Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Or Maybe Two

This has been a good weekend -- I have actually been able to do nearly everything I have been telling myself I would do.  This includes laundry -- washed, dried, folded and put away; dishes -- washed, dried and put away.   The table still isn't cleared off and the tablecloth washed, and my bed isn't stripped and the sheets changed -- but it's barely noon, so how much do you want for a nickle? 

I have also been tidying things in between bouts of dishes and laundry and watching Hawaii Five-O -- so the whole house is looking pretty good.  And I'm not even tired, or bored, (the main thing that frequently keeps me from continuing when I start a cleaning project) and  nothing hurts (except my head, and that's a result of not getting up until seven this morning -- I felt the headache before I even opened my eyes -- and it hasn't responded to caffeine or ibuprofen) so this a win, all the way around. 

I left off at noon, and came over to the library to use the computer, and now I am going to play Scrabble for a few minutes before heading home to vacuum and strip the bed and so on.

It's a bright afternoon, and I noticed the brightness of the yard yesterday, now that all the leaves have fallen from the tree.  For the past couple of weeks I have been coming and going after dark -- and, of course, Thanksgiving weekend I was up in Ocean Park -- so I hadn't noticed.  But it's noticeable.  Almost everyone is dressed appropriately for the chilliness of the day, although a group of twenty-something girls just walked by without a coat among them. Silly things.

A grandmother and her granddaughter -- about two or three -- are in the reading circle, and I just heard the little girl say, very seriously, "No, I'm not leaving, MeMaw.  We're staying one more minute."

The grandmother said, "Oh, okay, one more minute?"

And the little girl said, "Yes.  One more minute. Or maybe two."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Defaced Ace

Nameless Agent:  What's the password for WiFi here?

Me: Defaced Ace, all one word, all caps.

Nameless Agent:  What?  De -- face --

Me: Defaced Ace, all one word -- and all caps.

Nameless Agent: Okay.

Pause

Nameless Agent:  Nope -- incorrect password.  What is it?  Deface...?

Me:  (using hand gestures) Defaced Ace -- but all in one word, no spaces, and all capital letters.

Nameless Agent: Okay.  D- F...

Me:  No -- defaced.  D-E-F-A-C-E-D.

Nameless Agent: (stares blankly at me)

Me: (writing in capital letters in the air) D-E-F-A-C-E-D-A-C-E.   All one word, and all caps.

Nameless Agent:  Defaced?

Me:  Yes.

Nameless Agent:  Okay.

Pause

Nameless Agent:  Nope -- incorrect password.  Never mind.  It can wait.

Me:  Want me to enter it for you?

Nameless Agent:  Oh, yeah!  Would you?

I enter DEFACEDACE.  The computer makes a brief melodic sound.

Nameless Agent:  Oh, Face Dace!  I thought you said something else.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Me on the Weekends

I love my Sundays.  I love the fact that I get up at roughly the same time I do on a weekday -- seven, this morning -- and then have hours of quiet and stillness and peace, while my neighbors sleep.  I love that I have already taken down a load of garbage and dusted everything and redone the couch cover before I hear the floor creak upstairs.  I love that the weather continues being the weather even though I am the only one up to witness it -- the rain keeps trickling down the window, the wind blows in raggedy bursts.  I love that I can watch Perry Mason in between each job, and not feel like I am wasting my time.  I love my hot coffee, and my thin, crunchy toast, my hummus and my special, home made raspberry jam.  I love being me on the weekends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fallen Arches

So this is day six of wearing the arch support brace that I got last Friday.  Since the severe and increasingly crippling pain I was experiencing in my arch-foot-ankle-calf-knee, was that of a fallen arch.  You know, you read about people with fallen arches in books, and they are always either men who can't get accepted into the army, or elderly fat ladies with spoiled poodles, who make rich fruitcakes.  I do make the worlds's best fruitcake, even though I hate it, personally, so I guess I had better just give up and start spoiling some poodles.

However, the degree of pain that this condition was causing me was really an eye-opener.  I mean, I had to limp heavily everywhere I went, sometimes I could not go down stairs without hanging on to the wall,  I had difficultly moving in bed at night, since every shift sent severe pain rocketing down my leg -- it was a serious thing.  And getting slightly worse every day.

But now, with the brace filling in for the actual arch, the pain is getting slightly better every day.  Today I notice that I can walk, still more heavily than I would like, but almost naturally!  I sleep much better, and don't have suppressed shrieks filling my inner ear. I can sit comfortably in my chair, no matter which chair it is, since I'm not aware, constantly, of the pain in my foot and leg. It's possible that I am going to be able to live out my life in some degree of normalcy, instead of as an agonized, mean-spirited and very fat lady!

I am going to have to get some new shoes, however.  And I can't just wear whatever shows up in my size at the Sally Army.  I need to buy some ankle boots.  The ones I am wearing are coming apart, since they were second-hand when I got them, and anyway, are a startling orange suede.  Not the best for my quiet, mostly dark clothing choices.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Morning Delight

Every morning when I begin my drive to work, I suppress a momentary frisson of excitement.  Because, come on, I'm just on my way to my place of employment, the spot where I labor, in order to be given money, with which to pay my bills.  

Right?  

But no -- because what I am actually looking forward to, is the drive itself, and the morning hours that I am alone in the office at the computer.

The drive, is going to be pleasant, non-scary, non-crowded, and beautiful.  Every morning, whatever the weather.  I go overland and avoid all congestion, love the flickering raindrops or bursts of wind, or dancing tree branches or swaying circle of leaves.  I have the power of an automobile under my hands, and can, by quick small movements, traverse the corners and hills with ease, and dryness and no effort.

And the morning hours, when I am in the office early, are a delight as well, since I have online access and talk to myself, as I am doing now, with my fingertips.  I can see what my friends and family and acquaintanceship are doing with their time, and comment on it, and I can look at pictures of things that make me feel stuff.  All very happy ways to spend one's time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

American Woman

So.  On the list of "Ten Best Countries for Women" this year, where do you think America falls?

Anyone?


Nope.  It's not even on the list

The top five are Scandinavia plus Iceland, which I'm never sure whether it's Scandinavian or not.  But then comes Rwanda and Nicaragua and Ireland -- three places I would not have dreamt could be there -- because come on, genocide and drug cartels and The Troubles and Catholicism?  And we are really not better places to live and work than they are?

Sobering and infuriating.  Makes me want to rush out and volunteer somewhere, doing something.  But what?

I'm currently reading Terry Bisson's 1988 book, "Fire on the Mountain" which is an "Alternate History" novel, about what the world would be like if John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry had been a success, and slavery had ended so much sooner.  This is one of the books I added to my library list because Jo Walton, a favorite author of mine, liked it a lot.  And I am really enjoying it.  Oddly, I have just returned to the library, the recently published book "The Good Lord Bird", which is also about Harper's Ferry, and Old John Brown.  Written from the point of view of a slave boy, who is passing as a girl.  Not the other way around.  Strange!  And, as I said, odd, since I haven't seen a book about this time in history for many years, and here I have two, in the same week.

Hallowe'en coming up!  My costume is ready, just needs to be assembled.  My apartment building's party is a murder mystery theme, and this year it's Death at the Deadwood Saloon.  I'm Poker Alice, a poker dealer with a secret.  Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pedestrian Foolishness

This morning, on my way to work, I was driving down Burnside, approaching the bridge -- green lights all the way.  It's still fairly dark at seven-ish in the morning, now that Autumn is here, and that morning was even darker, since it was overcast.  I was therefore unable to see any details of the woman who stepped into the street in front of me, as I approached the last light.  She was heavy, with thin legs, and a fairly large topknot-style bun, and she was hurrying, but not nearly fast enough to justify crossing, unnecessarily, in front of traffic, against the lights.  A few seconds wait would have given her a traffic-crossing signal.  As it was, I had to break hard and heavily, and my car skidded a tiny bit.  I didn't hit her, though, and was able to continue on my way, shortly, with a pounding heart.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jo Walton and her Love of Sci-Fi

Reading Jo Walton's collection of blog posts this morning, and fell prey once again to the inherent flaw in -- not her writing, but in my reading of it.  Since she is a writer I particularly enjoy, and seems to think in ways that I think, and reads voraciously and as if it is her life she is living on the pages, I assume (and there's that naughty word once again) that her brain and mine are similar.  So when she is enthusiastically discussing her favorite literature -- science fiction -- with such detail and dedication, I get swept up in it and feel that somehow, I have just always been unlucky up til now, when reading science fiction.  Because even though I love the ideas behind it, as a genre, and the "other world-liness" it presents, like a good fantasy, and even though very occasionally I have been impressed by it to the point of buying it and keeping it, for the most part it is Extremely Disappointing.  EXTREMELY. 

But now, I have come to the library, and enthusiastically put several books she discusses, on my waiting list, even though part of my mind feels sure, feels certain, knows beyond any reasonable doubt, that I am going to be unhappy again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morning Drive

Once again this morning, my commute filled me with joy, as I drove along through the wet dark.  My radio sang along with me as I passed under trees, past houses, through neighborhoods, as I climbed hills and swung around corners.  I was always the only one in my lane, going my direction.  I would occasionally pass cars in the left-turn lanes, but otherwise, I drove alone, passing the long stream of headlights going the opposite direction.  Even over Mount Tabor, no one in my rear view.  The tires hissed, the windshield wipers hissed in alto counterpoint, my small warm dry space was warm and dry.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Came to Work This Morning

So I came to work this morning in the silver-chain rain, and smiled all the way here.  Portland is a beautiful city, especially wet and gleaming in the early morning light.

So I came to work this morning, and promptly tore the shoulder pads out of my jacket.  Caught sight of myself hurrying past the mirror in the bathroom and was struck -- again -- by the ludicrousness of shoulder pads as an additive to clothes.  At least to MY clothes.  Possibly some thin and narrow-shouldered people exist out there who feel reassured by the squareness to their outline, but I look like a linebacker.  And a cartoon linebacker, at that.  So I pulled the shoulder pads out with a quick jerk, and now I look human again.

So I came to work this morning, and one of our more recently hired agents -- a nice young family man -- came in to the office about half an hour early.  I was already there, since I avoid traffic and make use of the internet by getting to the office a couple of hours before nine.  He came in and asked if he should slide the pushbar holder back, thus unlocking the front door.  I said, "No -- still got half an hour!"  He looked blank for a few moments, and then asked, "You're here, but the office isn't open?"  As though I and the office are ONE.

So I came to work this morning, and spent at least half an hour fiddling with the hinges on the cupboard door in the kitchen.  It's some kind of fancy-schmancy hinge that has two sets of screws to adjust to make it exactly right, and if you merely tighten both of them, the door won't even come close to closing.  Which is all well and good, except that they also suddenly give way and come loose and need to be fiddled with and experimented with, and loosened and tightened and moved a fraction hither and yon.  I was tempted to merely remove it, like the momentary fad in kitchens a few years back.  But you will be glad to know that I didn't. I stood patiently on the little stool, and opened and closed and wiggled and fiddled and twisted and shoved and tightened and loosened until I was finally able to close the cupboard door.  It's a tight fit, but too bad.

So I came to work this morning, and made a pot of coffee, of which I am now enjoying a delicious and fragrant cup.  It is very tasty.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chinese, not British

Nameless Agent just asked me to enter his name and e-mail address into the scanner so that he could send himself copies of things with the push of a button.  I agreed, and as I was doing so, he stood and looked over my shoulder.

"Arthur -- that's A-R-T-H-U-R, " he began.  Really?

"Yup, just like the King!"  I agreed cheerfully.

He drew himself back and looked with some hauteur at me.

"I'm Chinese, not British!" he said.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I am 49 years old today.  

Yesterday my cousin was telling me that when I turn fifty, all play time is over, I can no longer make excuses for myself as being too young to know something, or making a mistake because I didn't understand something -- "when you're fifty," she said.  "All bets are off."

Well.  However much truth you ascribe to something as didactic as that, it's not for another year, anyway.  I am 49 today.  And will be able to remember this, now, I hope, since this past year of being 48 was one of the hardest-to-remember years I have ever experienced.  I could never tell whether I was 47, 48, or 49, and had to stop and count laboriously backward from the date to the year of my birth.  And sometimes was incapable of doing that.  I just don't get numbers.  They don't speak to me, they don't live in my head.  Words, do; letters, also, do.  Numbers -- you kiddin' me?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Really Very Healthy!


I had my one-year check-up at the eye doctor's this morning before work -- turns out that the e-mail I got telling me that my next appointment would be covered by insurance was incorrect -- I still do not have vision insurance, and had to pay $100 upfront.  Going to be very tight for a week!  But that's okay -- I have bread and milk and tea and a tankful of gas.

In any case, my doctor, an NZed named Rory Cook kept murmuring, "So healthy!  Really healthy..."  which pleased me very much!  It is good for me to be told, occasionally (regularly would be better!) by someone who cannot be argued with, that my worries are for naught.  Like Bob, telling me that my car is running fine, when I am stressing over every little sound.

So, I am seeing out of very healthy eyes today!  And now that the dilation has gone away, I really am!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

No Floor to Stand On

So, last night I had a sudden swell of determination, and instead of sitting down with a plate of food and a book, I went into my bedroom, and began moving things around.  I didn't even wait until everything was put away and tidy, although later I wished I had.  You shall see.

I have been thinking about how to move the furniture in my bedroom around, to give me better usage of space, and keep me from having to walk around the foot of the bed to turn on my bedside lamp, and stand between the foot and the dresser to put clothes away, and all that sort of thing.

So I figured that if I opened the top drawer of the dresser, and leaned down to get my fingers into the gap at the bottom of the dresser, I could pull it along the carpet without taking all the drawers out (such a drag!) and then I could little by little get it away from the corner, where I intended to to put my bed.  So I did that, huffing and puffing like an old fashioned steam engine, and covering only five or six inches with each heave.  I got it over to the side of the room, and swung around so that it was directly in front of the tallboy dresser, and keeping me from getting to my closet.  

Then I went over to the bed, and stripped all the bedclothes, and the clothes-clothes, and the afghan off into one enormous pile which I heaved over into the doorway, just to be out of the way of the moving, but ready to be replaced (in part, at least) on the bed.  Then I stood the mattress and box springs up against the wall, and began trying to move the frame. 

To make a long and somewhat embarrassing story at least a bit shorter, I will just say that the headboard came suddenly all to pieces and one of the side-board parts did, too (in fact, it was already split, and just holding itself together in some bizarre and possibly magical way, waiting for me to give it a good hard tug, so it could all fly to bits at once.) 

So then I had to realize that there was nothing I could do about this, that the bed frame wasn't worth re-assembling and gluing, again, and that I had better just disassemble the whole thing, and throw it away, and get a new/secondhand one.

So I ended up doing that, which was more difficult than moving the bed in one piece was going to be -- in my imagination, anyway -- and involved carrying the separate pieces of the bed frame out into the hallway over the large hump of bedclothes and afghan and clothes-clothes which I had just hurled into the doorway -- say about thigh deep -- and put the mattress and box springs (which are the part of the bed that I was PLANNING on getting rid of, they are so old and worn out and crunchy) into the corner, and remaking it, down on the floor.  Now I was drenched in sweat, and very tired, so I clambered over the (slightly less) large pile of clothes and afghans and bedspreads in the doorway and out into the living room and collapsed into my chair for about forty-five minutes, to catch my breath and wait for my heart to start beating normally again.

And slept there, last night -- quite comfortably, in so far as anything that involves that mattress is ever comfortable -- and when I got up this morning, and was getting ready to come to work, I couldn't get into my closet.  Because there was a dresser in the way, and a pile of clothes which were on the floor preparatory to being washed, which had been pushed back into the doorway of the closet, so that even  if I had been able to clamber over the dresser, I would still have been stymied by the no-floor-to-stand-on issue.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Geisler's House

So I went to Doug and Kathy's house for dinner the other night.  It's a large modern home, looking from the outside like any other housing development home built in the 2000s.  I was sort of appalled as I drove up to the three-car garage.  It's the kind of home that wouldn't even register on my brain as I passed it, so completely do I have no desire whatsoever to live in one.

However.

The really excellent thing about this house, which has a lot of good, comfortable things about it, actually -- the really excellent thing, as I said, is the VIEW.

From the upper deck in the backyard, right up under a very tall conifer of some variety, you can see across hilltop after hilltop, and hints of valleys below. As the sun began to set, the sunset filled the entire sky, since they are high enough on Mount Scott (I know, it's called Happy VALLEY, but that's just false advertising) to have nothing in the way to the west and south.  And when it grew dark, the moon was large, vivid and right...over...there.  Moonlight drenched the backyard, already beautiful with water and bridges and flowering shrubs.  It was LOVELY.

Was it enough to make me want to live in a Wealthy House TM?    Nope.  But certainly enough to make me want to go back and visit them again.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Universal Shape

So I'm in my office reading an article about totem poles from Sitka, Alaska, that were displayed at the Lewis and Clark Exposition here in Portland in the early 1900s.  I'm always interested in the Exposition, because my apartment building was built to house the workers.

Anyway, I was talking to Nameless Agent about this, and they were looking at pictures of the poles.  "You gotta wonder what it is about that shape," Nameless mused.  "Is it like pyramids?"

"What do you mean, pyramids?" I asked, confused.

"Well, you know pyramids are some universal shape.  They've discovered that.  And all the totem poles you see are the same shape, so I wonder if they are some universal shape, too?"

"Well --" I wasn't sure where to go with this.  "Totem poles are all the same shape because they are all carved out of a tree trunk.  So maybe that makes them a universal shape.  I guess I don't know what that means, really."

 "Nobody does," said Nameless solemnly.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Moderatin'

I slept under all the covers last night!  With my pajamas ON!    'Course, I woke up at two, and didn't fall completely back to sleep -- just dozed off and on until  the alarm went off -- but still, the weather is improving!  Or, to quote Huckleberry Finn, it's moderatin'.

I dreamed this morning that I was here in the office, and Mickey was coming in to teach class.  She looked at the signs I had posted about the class, and said, "Bethie, these are wrong, these are not my class!"

I said, "But those are the ones you sent me!"

Mickey said, "No, they aren't --- oh, DAD!!"

And I realized: A) Uncle Ken had made the mistake, sending Mickey's e-mail out for her, and B) Uncle Ken is sending Mickey's e-mail out for her??!!  Uncle Ken now WORKS FOR MICKEY??!!

You see how my subconscious mind works?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peaches and Nebbiolo

Another empty day.  I shouldn't mind, and in fact, I don't -- I can easily enjoy myself in front of a computer screen for eight hours at a time -- but I feel as though I should.  I feel as though I am not "living life to the fullest" if I just meander along and do nothing for eight hours.  So I am feeling guilty for not feeling guilty for not accomplishing anything.  I should be writing my novel!  Or -- letters to people!  Or running my own computer business or SOMETHING.  Instead of merely allowing time to pass me by.

In any case.

I went to see Heather last night -- my friend from Prairie with the houseful of foster and adopted children (and several of her own body as well.)  I went specifically to listen to her talk, because her 22 year old son had recently killed himself.

Joe is 22.

And I am going to see Julieann, my second cousin once removed this evening!  Am just killing time (the death of more time!) before heading over there.  Have peaches for grilling (she is a non-gluten eater) and some Nebbiolo.

And!  I got a beautiful blue single hide-a-bed sofa!  This past Saturday as ever was.  I found it, negotiated with the people to deliver it to my living room, moved the furniture around in there to accommodate it, and I love it!  It is beautiful and perfect and will make my next batch of company so much easier!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Fillory, O Fillory!

Remember in "Among Others" when Morwenna is categorizing people who like sci-fi, into groups, and she is one of the group that likes to enter other worlds?   I, also, am of that group.  I love being in some other place, and if I have to close the book, I feel bereft until I can hurry back between the pages into the kingdom I have had to leave.  I was noticing this yesterday as I read "The Magician's World."  Not just Fillory, but even when they were (supposedly) on Earth, in Brakebills, it was such a different place that I felt as though I were somewhere else, and didn't want to leave it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blue and Gold

The weather today is pretending to be as hot and miserable as the past few weeks have been -- 82 degrees, the thermometer says.  But what it doesn't say, is that there is also a bright, fresh, crisp breeze that smells of the ocean and has been blowing all day.  Feels lovely outside, gorgeous, exhilarating, like you could go anywhere and do anything and really like it when you got there and did it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In My Lunch

I have made a great many pies in the last month.  Five for Alan's birthday a few weeks ago, and then one for the apartment building, and one for Joe, and one for Brad, and one for Mom and Dad, and now another one for Brad.  That's how many, ten?  The second one for Brad I made last night, and got to bed around midnight as a result.  It's a good thing that my ease and speed at making them has improved in this last little flurry of baking, cuz my back was already hurting like a big dog, from the book sorting we had done earlier that evening.  

Brad had brought over five or six boxes of books that he had rescued from a neighbor woman moving out of the house she had lived in for forty years or so.  My job was to go through them and identify for him any that I thought would be of value. And there was one.  Lots of good looking hardbacked books, and lots of good stories in paperback, but the hardbacks were all textbooks, and the paperbacks were all cheap editions of no-name thrillers.  One or two exceptions, but as I say, only one that might sell.  It is a history of the Heywood Wakefield company. Written by them, and illustrated with photos and all -- it was in pretty good shape, too.  I've just been looking on eBay, and if he can find the right buyer, he has a chance of making some money.  If an ad on a  page from a magazine can command $24 than a whole book ought to be worth something.

Anyway, he also brought a bowl of wild blackberries from his backyard, and they are in the pie I made.  The leftovers of them are in my lunch.

Monday, August 4, 2014

No light, no light

On my drive up to Ocean Park this weekend,  I was stopped on HWY 30, just after the Kittredge Road turnoff, by the clean-up of an accident scene.  Someone (or someTHING, dun, dun, DUH!) had driven into a power pole with more than a little force.  It was snapped in half, but also munched pretty severely several feet up from the break.  The light was down on the street, and all the traffic lights were out for several intersections.

And nobody stopped, or even slowed at any of these intersections!  Just barreled on through, like there was no traffic waiting to cross from the other direction.  And, in fact, there wasn't, but nobody checked to see, or ANYTHING!  'Course, this was at about six a.m. so cars were pretty thin on the ground, but still!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

So, it is a lovely afternoon.  Bright and sunny, but not hot, so I can fully enjoy the beautiful blue-and-gold day and the colorful neighborhood it is lighting up.  

I devoted this day to cleaning my kitchen, finally, since I did not end up doing  a lick of work on it yesterday -- kept falling asleep and then reading and falling asleep again.  So this morning when I sat down with my hot tea and a book, and felt myself drifting off, I overcame my sedentary urges and got up and got busy.  The kitchen is mostly clean, now -- just a few more dishes and maybe a mop to the floor, and it will be somewhere I can welcome guests with a light heart and clear conscience.   (Though when I say "guests"... it's mostly for the light heart and the clear conscience.) 


And yes, I did abandon the project for an hour or so to come to the library and use the computer, but don't worry, I fully intend to return to the task as soon as I get back to the house.  It's difficult to steadily wash a great many dishes, especially those involved in pie-baking, (seven pies last week! SEVEN! ) when you don't have a sizable dish drainer to stand them in.  Every ten or twelve dishes, I have to stop and either give them a few minutes to drain (preferred) or else dry them with a dish towel (not preferred -- in fact, disliked).  And it gives me those few minutes to fill the sink with another bunch of berry-stained, or flour-encrusted dishes to soak for a bit before turning to and scrubbing.  And that is also a relief.  Let's me feel busy and efficient instead of lazy and slovenly. 


Also, my back is unusually achey today -- I don't know why, although I feel, with no evidence to bolster my theory, that it is somehow connected to sleeping so much yesterday.  Even if I had been sleeping in a bed, I would be stiff today, but I wasn't, I was drooping in my wing-back chair.  So I am certain to have strained at least my neck muscles, which were forced to hang onto my heavy head as it sagged at perilous angles from my shoulders.
Last night we watched a movie in the yard -- I had requested it from the library, after hearing Linda and Russ talking about a Marlene Dietrich movie that I had been shot at Vista House on the Gorge.  "Golden Earrings" it was called.  A sillier movie may have been made, once upon a time, but I don't remember having seen it!  It was fun, however, -- I had made a cobbler from Grandma Mary's recipe, which both fed my neighbors and used up the small amounts of four kinds of berries  I had in this weeks food box.  Not enough to make anything of any of them, but plenty for a bumbleberry cobbler.  And Russ brought chips and pretzels, as well as drinks, and a good time was had by all.

Apart from that, I need to buy a few groceries today -- I'm out of bread, for one thing -- and then my weekend chores will be accomplished, and I can sit down and watch Big Bang Theory.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Full Circle

Well, it is a peaceful day here in the office -- no one has crossed the threshold since I did, and I've turned the air conditioner way down, since Mickey will not be here today. Her office does not get much movement of air, and it is always too hot for her in here, even when my fingernails are lavender and I'm all goosebumps. So it's nice to know that she won't be coming in, and I can adjust the heating to my specifications.

I also have my cup of hot, hot coffee -- almost too hot to drink, but plenty delicious in the tiny sips I am taking. Strong enough for me to really enjoy -- which is another reason to be glad that no one is here but me. Almost everyone else prefers their coffee weaker than I like it. So I can't indulge myself in good coffee. Creature comforts!

So. This weekend was both very enjoyable, and also
sort of not. Saturday morning I worked, and by the time I got home it was a warm afternoon, although overcast. There was a note under my door from Myrtle, which read, "See me! I have RASPBERRIES!" So I got the raspberries -- freshly picked by Linda from our own bushes! -- from Myrtle, and made them into a pie, which turned out very well -- and I left my door open so that the apartment house was filled with the smell of baking pie -- and then I took it outside with a carton of vanilla ice cream and distributed it amongst my neighbors. One of them was so impressed with it she could not stop exclaiming about how good it was, which made me very happy. So that was a good day.

But then that evening, I got a call from my friend Bradley, who was once my unlamented ex Michael's friend. Michael is due to be released from prison this coming Friday, and Brad called to tell me that Michael had sent him a letter, reminding Brad that back when Michael was first imprisoned, Brad had promised to pick him up when he was released.

Since then, of course, Brad had realized that Michael was a grade-A liar, and had a very unhappy time of trying to relate what he was learning with his memories of their friendship, and all – I felt very bad for him – and had pretty much stopped
accepting Michael's collect calls or sending him cards. But now was feeling that he had made this promise, and had to keep it, and was wanting my opinion. Poor guy.

In spite of how (nearly) entirely I do not care about Michael anymore, and how (almost) completely unconcerned about him I am, it was weirdly upsetting to have Brad telling me what Michael had said, and hearing his imaginary voice in my head. Brad was unhappy, as well, which also made me feel bad.

The upshot of the conversation that he had with Michael, though, was that Michael had changed his mind, and was being picked up by his mother, (his MOTHER!) and would not need Brad. When he called me back to tell me this, Brad was both relieved, and even more unhappy, since he can now tell when Michael is lying -- and I know you're saying, "When his mouth is moving!" -- and although true, there is a certain "I'm-in-control-of-everything" tone of voice that should clue one in immediately. And Brad now recognizes this. Poor guy!

He was also amazed and exclaiming over how rapidly six years had gone by -- which I agree with, it is amazing. But then I comfort myself with the knowledge that Joe is 22, strong and healthy and not on drugs, with a good job, a good girlfriend, a house waiting for him, and a good relationship with me. He will be ALL RIGHT. I command it!

Sunday, I embarrassed myself by taking a watermelon out to the smoking circle, and offering it to them, and having all six of them turn me down. All six! One right after the other. I know I am over-reacting, but I felt very stupid.


So I spent the rest of the afternoon reading in my chair. And went to bed early, where I watched the first Harry Potter, for comfort's sake. And slept very well. And here I am, so that's full circle!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Overheard

"I mean we don't really work for the state, but we used to. You know, that's why we are called real state agents."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Morning

This morning as I drove over the north shoulder of Mount Tabor, I was enjoying the delicate beauty of the early Spring morning -- so much lovelier than a brilliantly lit blue-and-gold day, when all the details disappear in a blurry cloud of yellow.  The sky was a pale shade of grey, the trees were that impossibly bright crisp new-Spring green, and all the grass and flowers versions of it in multiple shades.  The touches of color, lavishly applied here and there -- salmon pink, lemon yellow, ruby red.  And it all seemed more sharply lit because of the reflecting drops of water on everything.  The pavement was wet, the tarmac, the leaves of every tree and bush, the edges of the house roofs -- it was a thing of beauty, although not, alas, a joy forever.  But certainly a joy for me!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Free Weekend!

Well, I have just enjoyed the first weekend with nothing I was required to do for what seems like years.  (Hasn't been years -- we did have a snowed-in weekend -- but it seems like years!)  No class on Saturday, so I did not have to get up early and make a trip to the grocery store to buy bagels and cream cheese and juice and pastries and then out to Beaverton to get the coffee started and the classroom set up before class started at 9:30 am.  And I also did not have to get up early to get started driving the three hours up to Ocean Park, which is what I do on the one weekend a month when I don't do the previously mentioned.  So the main thing is this: I did not have to get up early.

Now of course we know that I cannot sleep late, ever, cannot wallow in luxurious bed til the cows come home, since my caffeine addiction will give me a very nasty headache if I do, but I can sleep about an hour longer than usual.  And so I did.  The alarm went off at its usual time, I turned it off and turned over, and went solidly back to sleep for an hour.  An hour!  

And then I made my coffee and schlepped around the house in my pajamas for a couple hours, not immediately showering and dressing as I usually do, and that was fun as well.  I spent most of the weekend in my pajamas, in fact, only taking a few quick trips to run errands and go to the library.  I pondered merely putting my long coat on over my pajamas, but I am not someone who can carry something like that off with any degree of savoir faire, and would merely have looked like a housewife who had lost all sense of appropriate behavior.  And the library and the grocery store are places I go to at least once a week.  They know me there!  Not like it was a 7-11 across from the motel on my trip across country, or anything. I mean.

I also spent most of the weekend in my chair.  In my pajamas and in my chair, ahh, bliss.  I watched a few movies, and read a few books, and ate a few crackers.  Graham as well as soda.  I even took an actual nap in my bed.  Soundly asleep.  One in the chair, too, just a little naplet.  Often happens when I have been reading for awhile.

I did, however, do the dishes and fold the clean towels and tidy up and make a strawberry-peach upside-down cobbler.  The house smelled glorious as it was baking.  I went and opened my door so my neighbors could all enjoy the smell.  If any of them had turned up looking hungry, then I could have shared!  But none of them did.  They haven't learned yet, but they will.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And I Would Give You Flowers, and My Time, and Me

Do you remember the days when I lived in this apartment before?  The seven years in the nineties that this was my address?  I was dating Keith, and then Dale, and then Lewis.  And my friends were Jill, and Alan, and Kelly, and Cagney, and James, and Jim.  Toward the end of the seven-year-stay, when I had broken up with Keith and had much more time on my hands, I started hanging out in James' apartment downstairs, watching M*A*S*H, and smoking pot and talking with James, and Jim, and Chris Corno, and Big Paul, and Christopher, and Carrie, and Laura.  And Christopher was almost always there, since he liked the company, and the pot-smoking.  And I was fond of him as well, since he was Myrtle-my-landlady's grandson, and so knew more about her than I did, and because he was charming and friendly and like a big puppy-dog in his willingness to please and to be pleased.  And because he talked very frankly about things like pot-smoking, which was always something I wasn't so familiar with, and I liked having his outlook laid open for me.

I remember one night, in James' apartment,  when Chris and I had been seeing a lot of each other -- always in the group that contained at least James and Jim, and usually several others, one of whom was usually sleeping with Christopher -- and James and Jim were in the kitchen.  I was sitting on the couch, watching something, and Christopher came in from the kitchen and threw himself at my feet.  He was mildly intoxicated, and very up.  Clasping my knees in his arms, he poured out a beautiful and poetic picture of what our life would be like if only I would marry him, how happy we would be to wake up together, how happy we would be to go to bed together, how happy our life would be to look up and see each other across the house we would so happily be sharing.  "I would give you flowers,"  he said, "And my time, and me!"

Though amused and flattered, I was also embarrassed, and had to flee, and our interactions were flirtatious from then on, even the time I ran into him on the street after my marriage.  He called out, "It's beautiful Beth!"  and looking up I saw Christopher, and we walked together for about six blocks while he told me what was going on in his life.

And that was the last time I saw him until I moved back into the building, some fifteen years later.  He no longer lives here, but his grandmother still does, and now his mother and brother do, too.  And he did not recognize me, and I walked past him on the stairs without recognizing him, but goodness, I really did when his mother called his name.  He is much better looking now -- his boyish puppy fat is gone, and he has cheekbones and deep set eyes, and the same dark curly hair that he always had.  But he is still the same happy-go-lucky guy who doesn't much care where the money he spends comes from as long as someone has a joint.  I'm guessing his mother doesn't like that very much.

So, yesterday, I was walking home from the T&P, whither I had once again been driven, as the library's w-fi was too feeble to permit me getting online, and it was a lovely, lovely, early Spring day, with bright high sun and robin's-egg sky, and a warm buoyant breeze, and I passed Seth, Christopher's older brother, who does live in the building, crossing the parking lot across the street.  We exchanged hello's as we passed one another.  He looks like his brother, and I always have a moment of confusion when I see him -- Christopher or not? -- and so Christopher was freshly in my mind as I opened the door and went in.  Linda, his mother, was in the hallway.

"Oh, Beth," she said.  "I don't know if you've heard.  My son Christopher died yesterday."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Eye-witness News

Across the street from my morning bus stop, and above the Tavern and Pool that occupies the ground floor, are some apartment windows -- one of which is usually lit, in the mornings when I am there, and never curtained. Since I am looking up at it, I cannot really tell what sort of room it lights -- on the one hand, it is a bay window, and has three sides, so too big to be a kitchen, or even a bedroom, and it is at the front of the building, all of which argue for it being the living room -- but on the other hand, the room seems to have several different types of furniture and articles in it -- so perhaps it is what they call in England a bedsit?  Or one of those kitchens that has no walls dividing it from the rest of the apartment?  Maybe one big room, with a bed out of sight along the back wall, and a kitchenette in the right-hand corner?

In any case, this morning as I sat on the little bench under the roof of the shelter, I was looking up at the yellow rectangle, which had a curtain drawn back in the far left side, condensation along the bottom half of the middle section making the view blurred, and the right hand section being at the wrong angle to see through.  And I saw what looked like either a blurred outline of a man's head, or a shadow on the wall of a man's head.  But I could not tell what on earth the man was doing.  It looked as though he were crying in desperate sobs, with shaking shoulders and bobbing head, on and on.  I looked away for a moment, and then looked back, to see him raise his head and then drop it again and the "sobbing" continue.  

I was both sorry for him, and confused -- it was seven a.m. -- not usually the time to see someone overwhelmed by tears.  Unless this were a very depressed person, or possibly someone with mental difficulties... and then the large cat stopped washing itself and jumped down from the table it had been sitting on.  Its shadow grew and shrank as it moved, until it clearly delineated a cat, and then vanished.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Anyone Who Knows Me Well

You know what I need -- I need a small tape recorder that hangs around my neck or slips in my pocket -- so that when these lines cross my mind I can record them, and not merely repeat them to myself several times in admiration and then promptly forget them.  Don't think I have remembered a single one, when I was seated at a keyboard.  That's why it would be good to have a place to set up my computer so that it was constantly on.  Still wouldn't be as good as having a tape recorder, but.  Can't afford a tape recorder at the moment.  

And the thought of one gives me a moment of mixed negative feelings -- since a) I gave Michael I small handheld recorder back in the days when I believed (or at least almost believed)that he was writing songs and needed something to hum into; b) Dad lent me one when I told him about how Michael was trying so hard to make me think I was severely brain-damaged, and couldn't remember what I had just that minute said and done; and c) when I consulted it and showed Michael what I had just, in fact, said and done, he pitched a huge fit, and confiscated it.  So I was unable to return it to my father. 

Nonetheless, I would like a small handheld, voice activated tape recorder.  And some mini tapes.

This is Saturday, noonish, and I already feel as though my holiday has gone on and on.  The cheerful smack of pool balls momentarily lifts my spirits, but I am feeling a weird combination of bored and lonely. Not that I AM bored -- I really am not.  Been enjoying myself in my solitude -- but it is a recognizable part of the feeling I have that makes me want to get my coat on and go out into the snow.  I called Ruthie yesterday and today, and that helped me a great deal -- and I feel as though I am going to accomplish all sorts of stuff in the time that I have left.

Unlikely as that may seem to anyone who knows me well.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More Than I Deserve

It's been a lovely weekend so far.  I'm currently sitting in a comfortable booth at the T&P, waiting for the burn to die away in my lips and tongue, so I can think about ordering something sweet to eat.  I had a few little soft tacos and the Sriracha I sprinkled on didn't affect me until after they were gone.  I'm drinking clean, crisp, sweet and orchard-y apple cider -- so delicious -- and watching people stroll by, all of them squinting in the excessively brilliant sun.  Yesterday and today were both very, very bright.

(The Pogues!  How long has it been since I've heard the Pogues, when I wasn't playing them?)

Across the street, the usual crowd is standing outside Besaw's -- a perfect example, if any were needed, of the public's bovine natures.  Probably half of them have never been there before, but they've heard the name for so long, and the cachet of being one of NW Portland's oldest restaurants has brought them driving in from Gresham and Bethany and Fariview.

And when I think back to the first time I ate at Besaw's --twenty years ago -- and the only customers were some aged, deeply wrinkled little men drinking at the bar, and the cook was a heavily tattooed, skinny, black- haired man with track marks -- makes me shake my head!

Been watching "Fringe" all over again -- just finished the third season before I came over here -- and last night I went to bed at about ten-thirty,  feeling pleased that I hadn't allowed the seduction of that show to keep me up to any ridiculous time.  Woke up at about six, and was thinking about what the plan was for today, and it suddenly hit me like an ice-cold water balloon --I had left my car in the library parking lot overnight!  It was only allowed to be there until library closing, which on Saturday night is six pm!  So it had been there for twelve unauthorized hours, and this was in NW Portland, where not only is parking at a premium, but the people are, as a generalized whole, self-righteous and much given to reporting people parked somewhere they ought not to be.  I've seen that little meter-maid car out tooling around before dawn!  I threw my coat on over my pajamas, and without even wiping my eyes or straightening my slept-on hair, I rushed over there.  As I rounded the last corner, my relief at seeing the familiar blue lines of Beauty the Buick almost made me gasp aloud.

I also made it back to my apartment without running into anybody, or seeing a single soul, except for the driver of a car.  Which is more than I deserve!  Whew!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Michael Orville Estes

I was just reminiscing about Prairie people, specifically from my freshman year – the friends I made just as a result of being in the same place they were.  Not because they were friends of some other friend, or sister, or roommate.  Not because they wanted to date me, or Ruthie, or Roseanna, or Kelly. 

That was the best year of the three years I was there – there was no pressure.   I felt protected by my older sister’s presence, even though we shared no classes and rarely ate meals at the same time.   I wonder, now, if that was the cause of my terrible, mind-losing insomnia, my junior year – pressure from others, instead of from the school itself.  I was trying to be too many things to too many people – and at the same time trying to hide the person I was to person A, from person B, since I knew they would not approve.  What a coward I was!  Afraid of everything, and resenting others for having to be their version of me, to them.

Anyway – Shannah (my very first Prairie friend) had sent me an e-mail with pictures attached – one of which was of me and Mike Estes on the beach – my skirt is wet, and Mike is half buried in sand – and I paused and gave some time to thinking about Mike.  He was a really good guy – I had no fault to find with him, save that he did not light my fire.  And yet I had no idea how to behave towards him, to let him know that I did not “like” him.  I was just as friendly as was allowed, and when he wrote me letters – awkward, staggering letters at about a fourth grade level – I responded with real letters and candy and baked goods sent to him in boot camp – he brought me a stuffed fox and I named it Foxibus and kept it on my bed for years – I’m afraid I behaved just like a conservative, small-town Christian girl who intended to marry someone would have behaved.  But I did not know how else to be.  And no one ever mentioned it to me, no one found any fault with my behavior,  no one said  anything about it to me – I’m sure my parents thought I might, in fact, marry him, but we never mentioned it to one another.

So, I was thinking that I really owed the poor guy an apology for my ignorance and my unintentional leading him on.  I mean, he made the trip from Spokane down to Cannon Beach just to see me for an afternoon.  (I wouldn’t let him put his arm around me on that occasion, so perhaps that told him I wasn’t interested…?  but probably not.)

So I began looking for him, first on Facebook, (my goodness, hundreds of Mike Esteses! But none of them that blonde, square-faced young man with the wide space between his front teeth) and then on Google.   And on the first page of my search for Mike Estes – Army -- Washington, I got this headline:  Sheriff's Deputy killed in the line of duty.

Oh, my god.  And it was him.  Michael Orville Estes.  At age 43, so only about five years ago.  Responding to a 911 call, his car was broadsided by a semi-truck.  The only Walla Walla sheriff’s deputy to be killed in the line of duty.  Merciful heavens.

Dead.

I mean, really dead.  As in dead.



Is he the first one of my Prairie friends to die?  I will have to ponder that for a bit, but I think he really might be.  Marshall got brain cancer, but he recovered.  Daniel was in a car accident, but he is more or less okay.  Dave survived malaria.    I had a brain hemorrhage, but here I still am.  Mike Estes.  First death.  Wow.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Opting for the Auto

Well, it's a lovely morning, in that good old Pacific Northwest way -- overcast sky, still a deep purply blue, fresh dampness to the air, though no rain falling, wet pavements shining gold and lavender in the reflected lights.  When I stepped out my door this morning, the familiarity of this lifted my soul with a physical lift that I could feel in my chest.  Ahh, home!

Which is probably why I wasn't annoyed or dismayed to realize, just as I rounded the corner, that I had forgotten to get my new pack of bus tickets the previous night.  I had gotten off the bus, thinking, "Stop at the library, then at Food Front, then home,"  (isn't it lovely to live so closely with one's need-suppliers?  Both of these things between my bus stop and my door!)  and I did make the library stop.  But when I came out, I was passing St. Honore's bakery, and my eye and appetite were caught.  I went in and bought a blueberry tart (note to self: don't buy that again) and a small bag of chouquettes, which I ate with great satisfaction -- and passed merrily by Food Front, without it tickling the smallest response in me.

But, as I say, I wasn't even remotely distressed by this, merely pondering whether I should ride the bus and pay cash, and then try to get some more cash somewhere to make the trip home, or simply drive.  And I opted for the auto.