Thursday, December 31, 2020

Theft and Crafting?

 You know how it goes--one memory sparks another. Never a bonfire, thankfully, but little fires hither and thither. So naturally, another senior year moment popped up--featuring our small town's women's club. 

I remember when it was Mom's turn to host the club, because it always meant she'd make a special dessert that wasn't for us. <cue sad violin> I'm guessing they did projects and had fundraisers (bake sales?). One year, they took their hard raised money and purchased a sturdy wood bench, to sit in front of Johnny's market downtown.

I don't know why that bench chafed us teens so. We couldn't see the purpose. Where we did see a purpose for the bench, was in our "senior hall". We talked about it and came up with a plan to make it ours, but it was all a silly diversion. Until ... I bet it was Timmy, with a small crew, went down school house hill and freed that bench.

Oh the elation, when we came to school the following day! There it was! Sitting in our hall! The adults were beside themselves--nothing new there, as far as our class was concerned. We declared it was our senior art project.We sanded, carved our initials, sanded more and finally it was time for the shellac. What a thing of beauty! 

And now, as an adult, I wonder why the women's club let us keep it. Because we all know, that's the only reason it became ours. And I wonder where it went after we left? Does anyone remember or are the adults involved all gone? <shrug> Hard to say, but I'm glad that memory rose to the surface. Love, K

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

More Ridiculous Me

 This week, I had the opportunity to finally recognize/pay heed to one of my many human quirks. Yay? It's about buying clothes--something most do from time to time. 

One of my favorite shops had a nice sale this autumn. I found a shirt I loved and bought it. Once it arrived, I admired its cut and fit, put it in the wash and then eventually, hung it in the closet. Each morning, I'd look at that shirt and ponder when I'd have the chance to wear it ---and wished it was soon.

Then one morning, it dawns on me . . . what the heck are you saving that shirt for, K? The thrift shop? Good grief! Not only are you retired and cannot wear it to work, but it's a fekking pandemic, K. Wear that lovely shirt FOR YOU. And so I did. 

Love, Ridiculous K

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Golden Day

 Our ragtag group of classmates, didn't really coalesce until the summer before our senior year. Before that, it seemed we were all divided into groups whose edges rarely touched--except for the cruelty that was dispensed between the groups. We excelled at that. But that senior year, we hung out, smoked the weed, drank what we had and listened to music. So much music. 

One day, in particular, stands out: we were gathered at the other David's house (one of three or four classmates, no longer living)--a rarity, but it was a rare year. David had just been to a Springsteen concert and was eager to share the (life changing) album with the rest of us--Born to Run, was playing loud throughout the house, as we enjoyed the day and the moment. A golden day.

Love, K

Sunday, December 27, 2020

His Grandmother's Cashews

 I've mentioned a childhood friend named David more than once here, but there were two Davids in my class. At least I think that's correct--we did have five Jeff's in a class of fifty five-ish. (That actor must've made quite the impression on those parents--couldn't have been just the mothers. Am I right?)

One long time memory of David B-- was gifting (they'd discover later it was temporary) his wristwatch to whichever classmate took his fancy. Eventually, it became a competition to see who could keep it the longest or receive it next.

When we were older--maybe middle school--he asked me to join him on an errand. Maybe it was lunch time. Naive me, didn't ask questions, I just chummed along--something I learned at a young age. We went to his grandmother's house, perhaps he was doing a promised chore. 

Speaking of naive, he left me sitting alone in her immaculate living room, in front of a coffee table with a lovely cut glass dish heaping full of some kind of nut. He asked if I'd ever had a cashew before, "try one. they're good", he urged. David wasn't kidding! They were good! They were irresistible! 

I can still see that look on his face (shock? awe? horror? fear of grandma?), when he came back into the living room and saw the shiny, unnutty, bottom of that cut glass dish. 

"You ate them all?!" 

"They were so good. I couldn't stop."

And that was the last time I was ever taken to David's grandmother's house. The end.

Love, K

 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Childhood Camping

 During my growing up years, camping with my folks, was never at a campground. Even now, I believe it was something at the very core of my father's being, that kept him from embracing using his hard earned money to camp. It's something we may have teased him about, as we were raising our own crew of minions. 

The favorite spot, for a number of years, was Dry Creek. The space where our pick-up and canopy (and later, the camper) was parked, along with the friends and family vehicles, was probably created for water trucks to fill up during slash burning or forest fire season. There were plenty of trees and a fisherman's path to and along the creek. 

Come morning, the men would leave early with their poles and creels and then the women and children, would take chairs and head down to the rocky beach. We'd take off our shoes and socks and cool off our feet or, if you were me, you'd build a rocky dam. 

Years later, when we had families of our own, we'd tease dad about his camping spots. And tell our children that their grandpa was perfectly fine with camping on the shoulder of a highway or in an abandoned rock pit, and enjoy the looks on their faces. Thankfully, the littles never asked about the bathroom situation. 

Love, K

Friday, December 25, 2020

We're All Swimming to the Other Side

I can remember driving south on I-5, when this piece came on the radio, eighteen years ago. And the featured song, still lives strong inside my head--like an anthem that lifts you up and urges you to sing along. Enjoy, K 


 'Swimming to the Other Side' May 22, 200212:00 AM ET Heard on All Things Considered 10-Minute Listen

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Gray, Grayer, Grayest

 Little doubt that I've written about this before--how the pandemic has made daily/weekly mood cycles more noticeable or not as easy to ignore. At least that's how it's been for me. 

Last night, as some old irritation, wound or shame, rose up out of the old gray matter, instead of attempting to redirect my thoughts, I took my own hand and led myself over to the old irritation to peer closely to see what truths I could tease out. "See, K. There's nothing here. Never was."

It's an interesting exercise, but sometimes I forget or I'm not able to take that mental walk. I reckon it has much to do with what shade of gray has gathered in my head--the lighter the better. 

During the lighter days, it's easier to find and dig into those old dust motes. And, often, there is no shame or bad response or blame for me to accept. Often, it's all in my head. How's yours?

Love, K

Monday, December 21, 2020

New Experiences for an Awkward Child?

 Growing up in a big family (by today's standards), eking out a life in a small town, I had few outside of the "shire" experiences during my growing up years--except for camping, trips to the store, visits to and the occasional meal at a neighbor's house. Yup, that about covers it.

I do remember being taken to the neighboring town to a Chinese restaurant with my folks and their friends--probably an issue with noone to watch me at home. I ordered a hamburger and my folk's friend, Ray, began feeding me morsels from his plate. Sweet Ray.

And then it was time for some kind of special class field trip to Portland, while I was attending high school. We may have gone to the zoo and the forestry center (I honestly have no memory) and then ended at the old downtown Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner.

About half of my fifty-fiveish classmates had been there before, but it was all new to me. There was much to take in--the quirky old building, the interesting seating and the people. So many people. 

When the waiter came to take our orders, I was completely at sea--green salad? Salad Dressing? Menu items that were completely foreign to me. Not a great feeling, when you're amongst your peers. 

My childhood bud, David, was beside me trying to assist with my choices, but was bewildered when I said no dressing on my salad. And, to be honest, once that bowl of green arrived--I was also bewildered. I'm sure I provided entertainment to my more experienced classmates. So that's something . . . 

Love, K

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Shadows in the Night

 Are we born programmed to be cautious or afraid of shadows? I've often hoped that was the reason for my fruitcake-ish behavior over the decades--mainly during the young years. 

The chair at my childhood bedroom desk, would often become a creature watching me huddled in bed, especially when clothing was draped over it. Or if I forgot to slide my closet shut, I'd wake to creatures fluttering out and had to pull the covers over my head to keep them from ... coming to get me? Hard to say, with a small brain seeing a threat and not ready to listen to reason.

But there's one night that stands out. I may have reached adolescence, a bit of a guess. What I do remember, was the shadow on my bedroom curtains--no doubt about it, there was a person in a cape and a Dick Tracy fedora, right outside my window. 

My first thought--how to alert my parents, while frozen to my bed? I began to hit my hand against the wall separating my room and their closet, "whump, whump, whump". And then Dad, in Mother's robe, appeared at my door, "what's wrong?", he may have asked. All I could do was raise my arm and point at the window. 

I remember Dad starting to explain that there must be an easy explanation--right before he darted outside to see what in the world that shadow could be. When he returned, he was chuckling and filled me in on how my Uncle Pete's horse, Dutch, we were boarding, was near our mercury vapor light, with his rear hooves on an incline and ears just visible above his rump. Dutch the vampire horse! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Halloween or Hallo-won't

The year was 1991. The month was October. The day? The thirty-first. That was when our small family unit relocated to Salem. 

Such a full day: 

  • meeting at the title company, 
  • denied keys, 
  • broker advocating on our behalf due to a listing agent's upset over not having been the seller,
  • realtor bringing us McD's breakfast and a fig tree to soothe our upset,
  • finally emptying contents of moving truck into house,
  • and then the realization of ... the date. 
As the day crept towards late afternoon, oldest offspring began to ask about Halloween. My lame response: "On our moving day? I was thinking you could pass out candy to meet the new neighbors.", I uttered unsympathetically. 

Silly me, I thought I'd won and all was settled. But unbeknownst to me, the offspring had shifted their strategy towards N. Once the contingent of three, reappeared to talk to me, I learned that N had brainstormed costume ideas and settled the young and then he was ready to settle me. 

Such a sweet memory, of how he advocated for the kiddos, and made me see that it could easily be done. I bet he even drove to the store to buy the candy for the trick or treaters. That's my N. Me? I stayed and answered the doorbell. I smiled and handed out candy--even to the tyke who asked where Mrs. SoAndSo went and how much they liked her.

Love, K

Monday, December 14, 2020

Dusting the Dough

 The period of time, that all of my siblings were under the home roof, was a brief blip on my timeline. Which probably explains how few of those memories are still active in my head. 

One that shines bright, was a sibling cookie making effort. I have to believe that sister S, was in charge--she was born to manage and tend. My spot, was atop a stool. The cookies, were Snickerdoodles. And with several workers shaking the dough balls in paper bags in the room, the air was filled with sweet cinnamon.

A sweet moment for all. Love, K

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Tickled While Falling Asleep ...

 As I lay in bed last night, willing my body to become one with the mattress, a moment from years back popped up and brought a smile. The memory was attached to a "get to know you" conversation with a work bud and mentioned childhood neighbors, Grandma and Grandpa Curly. I can still hear the two beats of quiet and then, 

"wait--your neighbors were your grandparents?"

"No. No relation to us, but that's what I grew up calling them."

Something that had never seemed different or odd to me, but I was suddenly seeing it through another's eyes. And saw the amusement--especially when they added that they thought the name sounded like something a child might come up with on their own.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

And the People Stayed Home . . .

This afternoon has found me reading this article about a woman who wrote a poem that has resonated and inspired a book and videos like this:


 

And the People Stayed Home ~ Poem by Kitty O'Meara

And people stayed home 
and read books and listened 
and rested and exercised 
and made art and played 
and learned new ways of being 
and stopped 
and listened deeper  

someone meditated 
someone prayed 
someone danced 
someone met their shadow 

and people began to think differently 
and people healed 
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways, 
dangerous, meaningless and heartless, 
even the earth began to heal 

 and when the danger ended 
and people found each other 
grieved for the dead people 
and they made new choices 
and dreamed of new visions 
and created new ways of life 
and healed the earth completely 
just as they were healed themselves.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Caught in a Book Passage

 Last night, as I read my current novel before bed, I found myself. There I was, tucked neatly within a paragraph, in words of the young main character, describing how his mother coped with life "by appeasing".

It was a revelation that felt like a slap across the face. And my first thought-- was appeasing something I adapted to ease my way in the world OR was I born that way? Appeasement--perhaps that was my tool as part of the family constellation. 

I read a book about family dynamics thirty plus years ago and it was the first time I found words to describe what I'd witnessed in my own family as a child. Families are like living breathing organisms, each member unknowingly influencing the behavior of the other members. 

And now, after a quick search, I see when you search for "family constellations", you mostly get information about the therapy that has blossomed since. And, once again, I mourn the rabbit hole searches without all of the commerce sites. Sigh. Love, K

Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Seinfeld Nod

Was thinking I ought to do a Seinfeld post--you know . . . about nothing. 

Yeah, this is my current brain status during these seasons of Covid. 

I've been feeling more lethargic, forgetful, and ridiculous. How about you? 

Love, K

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Living in the Stream

 How many shows have you streamed since March? Our list is long and varied, and I'm thinking of catching up on some movies, before we begin another series. Okay, then ...

  1. The Sapphires
  2. Water Diviner
  3. 20th Century Women
  4. Roma
  5. The Irishman
  6. Lost Girls
  7. Schitt's Creek
  8. American Factory
  9. Amy
  10. Little Women
  11. The Good Place
  12. Jackson Brodie
  13. Fantastic Fungi
  14. Amazing Mrs. Maisel
  15. Bel Canto
  16. Shaun the Sheep
  17. The English Game
  18. Baptiste
  19. Bosch
  20. Never Have I Ever
  21. Late Night
  22. London River
  23. World On Fire
  24. The Untold Story
  25. Collateral
  26. Dead to Me
  27. Dark River
  28. Book Shop
  29. Mr. Roosevelt
  30. The Door
  31. Lady Bird
  32. The Queen
  33. Repair Shop
  34. Flea Bag
  35. Very British Scandal
  36. The Goldfinch
  37. Love Wedding Repeat
  38. Knives Out
  39. Da 5 Bloods
  40. Marcella
  41. Moone Boy
  42. Children Act
  43. A Merry War
  44. The Politician
  45. Beecham House
  46. Eurovision
  47. Hamilton
  48. Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
  49. Fathers and Daughters
  50. River
  51. Britt Marie
  52. Pale Horse--Jim Gaffigan
  53. Kettering Incident (unfinished)
  54. Radioactivity
  55. Episodes
  56. Endeavor
  57. Bernadette Where'd You Go
  58. Little Fires Everywhere
  59. Normal People
  60. Palm Springs
  61. Shetland
  62. The Assistant
  63. 100 Foot Journey
  64. Handmaid's Tale
  65. Bill and Ted
  66. Olive Kitteridge
  67. Big Little Lies
  68. Mildred Pierce
  69. Sharp Objects
  70. Damn Yankees
  71. The Point
  72. Great British Baking Show
  73. Coupling
  74. Gentleman Jack
  75. The Russians Are Coming
  76. Queen's Gambit
  77. Clemency
  78. The Crown
  79. 12 Years a Slave
  80. Motherless Brooklyn
  81. Lala Land
  82. Emma (2020)
  83. Enola Holmes
  84. Harriet
  85. His Dark Materials
  86. Rebecca (NF)
  87. The Happiest Season
  88. The Undoing
  89. Human Nature
  90. Becoming Astrid
  91. Never Rarely Sometimes Never
  92. Pen15
  93. The Lie 👎
  94. The Prom
  95. Morning Glory
  96. The Old Guard
  97. Sylvie's Love
  98. Dash & Lily
  99. Black Book
  100. Family Tree
  101. 6 Feet Under
  102. Herself

There's an app, Just Watch, that does a nice job of showing you where a particular show or movie can be streamed. This list doesn't include all of the PBS programs we watch: Masterpiece Theater, Mystery, Last Tango in Halifax, Finding Our Roots Frontline. 
This year, we'll be giving thanks for the ability to stream--both shows and music. Love, K

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Breakfast Strata

 Way back, in the last half of the eighties, our wee crew was living in Roseburg. That welcoming community, that made us feel right at home, also made sure we were involved. And the main involvement for both N and I, was at Melrose Elementary. Before we knew it, we were involved in raising funds for a bell tower and I was being urged to take a position in the PTO.

One of the big yearly events, was a volunteer breakfast, that the PTO board put on for all of the school volunteers. And that's when I learned about breakfast strata. Susan Yoder, PTO president and encourager of others, had invited me to her house (the day before the breakfast) to help put together the stratas. I was impressed with her ability to estimate how much to purchase and how to divvy up the ingredients on the fly, for such a large group.

The tasty and easily changeable casserole, was something I decided to add to our family recipe file. I'm not sure how it was relegated to Christmas morning breakfast and eventually included Thanksgiving, but it made the enjoyment slightly special. (Maybe that was my plan.)

Now, I prefer making skillet strata--they're smaller and are put together and baked at the same time, rather than sitting in the refrigerator overnight. Plus, making them more often than twice a year, has placed that recipe in my memory--the recipe now is rarely needed ... unless I'm thinking of making a change up of ingredients and want to see what others have done. 

There are oodles of recipes out there. Go find one that matches your belly and your larder. Lykkelig å spise! 

Love, K

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Myrn

 It wasn't until I began to compose this in my head, that it occurred to me, this name I've admired for so many years, was not a one-of-a-kind handle crafted by parents, but an "a" away from Myrna. {K takes a moment to ponder this again} 

Not only did I like to say her name, that usually brought a smile, but I enjoyed being in her company. Myrn, made this wee runt, feel special--much like my Auntie M's stepdaughter, Linda (yet another epiphany). 

Myrn, came along at a certain time of my life. I had entered the age of change, and there she was, dispensing essential advice and knowledge. Reading, together with me, one of those dreaded pamphlets, that my adults pushed across the table in my direction. My two older sisters, had each other, but not this runt--I was on my own (or so I felt). 

All to say--thank you, Myrn. You were there when this runt needed you. And you, too, Linda. You also aided this runt. Reach out and help, whenever you see a need, but also check to see if it's what's needed. "Softly, softley, catchee monkey ..."

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Yorker Radio Hour

 Such a relief, that I wasn't running the vacuum when this interview was on the radio. There was something about the tone, that made it a joy to listen to: relaxed, honest, engaged with each other. But there was also a question that's kept this old brain busy: "Do you remember when you first met another funny kid?" I remember observing my first funny kid, when I was in middle school. It was when I realized how cruel jokes could be. But I also remember my first funny work bud and how one of us could say something that seemed innocent during a meeting, make eye contact with each other and then try to keep from bursting out loud. 

Ah, Linda, such good memories. Love, K


Saturday, November 14, 2020

An Old Thanksgiving Memory

 Who knows what the year was (possibly 1994), whenever my folks decided to head to Arizona earlier than usual or stopped returning for Thanksgiving or whatever it might have been. Difficult to remember at this late date. What I do remember, is that (most) of the family had gathered at my eldest sibling's home. Such a great house!

That Franklin stove, was probably glowing red, in the corner by my brother-in-law's favorite chair and the family room/ kitchen, was probably alive with activity. So many wee folk and so many boisterous adults! Yes, that volume was loud--especially with a movie (Speed) playing on the satellite TV system.

I don't remember if we had already enjoyed dinner or not, but I do remember a phone call with my folks in Arizona on the speaker phone. It was my first experience with a telephone call on speaker phone and (to be honest) I hoped it was my last. 

So many voices, with something to add and no way for the recipients to know who was talking or (most likely) what was being said. And yet, I think the overall message (hopefully) was that of love and wishing they were with us. 

Love, K

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Who Ate My Sandwich?!

 The following was posted on this blog six plus years ago. I was reminded of the story this morning, after people began talking about ravens damaging windshield wipers at a trail head:


The parent club at the local elementary school our girls attended, sold bags of popcorn to the students once a week. One day, as I was leaving the school after volunteering, I noticed every tree in and around the playground was filled with crows. The large numbers were so remarkable to me that instead of the hairs on the back of my neck standing up in horror, I began to wonder what event they were anticipating. Crows don't gather without purpose. I don't know if I put it together that day or later after witnessing the gathering another week, but it suddenly became clear they were all waiting for lunch recess when the children would emerge with their bags of popcorn and inevitably leave many many morsels behind.

Several years later, I was sitting in my car waiting for a walking partner near a Willamette University practice field. There was a team of young soccer players attending a summer camp out on the field. The wood bleachers were decorated with the player's backpacks and duffle bags. While I sat watching, one young man ran over to his bag and removed his water bottle for a quick drink. Minutes later, a crow landed on the bleachers and casually strolled and hopped from bench to bench, with one eye on the team members. The crow zeroed in on the thirsty boy's bag, hopped on top, grasped the zipper in its beak and began to unzip the bag. He resumed his casual hopping from one bench to another while watching the boys and then returned to the bag. The crow pulled it open, eyed the contents and lifted out a sandwich wrapped in foil. He carefully folded back the foil, removed half and flew away. When the boys returned to their bags for a break, the owner of the violated bag appeared incredulous that someone would take his food. An unsolved mystery that was probably the cause for suspicion amongst the team members. All because of a crafty crow.

Last year, a friend shared a story of a crow who visited her backyard squirrel feeder. The crow visited every day for a week (at the same time), trying to figure out how it might access the peanuts inside the plastic tube. The following week, the crow showed up with a second crow. My friend said the original visitor, showed the  second one how he'd been attempting to access the nuts. Then the second crow hopped up onto the feeder tube and showed how to grasp the tube while upside down. It worked! It was as if the stymied crow had called in a consultant. Amazing! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Resonating Quote

 Last night, as I was reading myself to sleep, a quote in the current novel resonated. Was the narrator pointing out something deep within our human nature? Sadly, it feels that way to me. And also something to watch out for, when we deal with others. 

"I have said before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it's the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down."

-- "My Name is Lucy Barton", Elizabeth Strout

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Boy Howdy

 Woo doggie! What a ride the past few days have been! And ... to be alive during yet another historic election! I know, I know, it's not completely over. It's been eons since we last had a creature like Drumpf in the White House and our memories are short--though our written history is (somewhat) long. Thankfully, we survived the last one. Let's make it a double, shall we?

Cheers!

Love, K


Friday, November 6, 2020

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Walkies






 

A Time for Reading

 Ever since March, I've become slightly more in tune with the width and breadth of my stack of books to read--noticing when the stack seemed to be disappearing at a faster speed and restocking. During the most recent decision on which novel to read next, I failed to go through all of the titles, settling on the first one that appealed. After three days of reading, I realized that I had not read the first of what I find is a two book series. 

In "normal times", I would continue on with my mistake, hoping I wouldn't miss the earlier character development. But this time around? Why the heck not? It's not like I have a completion date or an assignment due. AND entertainment is essential this year (almost typed "these days", ha!). Though, knowing myself, saying I'll do this is still a step away from doing it. <shrugs> Maybe now that I've shared, it'll be the shove I need.

Off topic: And speaking of entertainment: we found, "The Russians Are Coming", on Prime. I'd forgotten what a sweet gem that is and how young Carl Reiner was, as well as Eva St Marie. 

Love, K


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Garrison Keillor's The Old Scout

© 2009 by Garrison Keillor. 
The Old Scout A Day to Remember January 20, 2009 One simply wanted to be present. Freezing cold or not, a crowd of 2 million, whatever — solemn warnings about tight security, long lines, traffic jams, cell phones not working. In the end, one wanted to be there on the Mall before the Capitol on Tuesday at noon amid the jubilant throng and see the man take the oath of office — our first genuine Author-President. So I hitchhiked a ride in the middle of the night on a jet heading to Baltimore and got to the train station at 5 a.m. and already the platform was packed. A lot of black people in parkas and scarves and mittens. It was like "The Apollo Goes to the Arctic." There were Obama stocking caps, ski caps, skullcaps, and pins with the first family on them, and everyone was beaming, and nobody complained about how cold it was or having to wait in line. People were being marshaled into waiting areas for each train to D.C., each of us with a Commemorative Train Ticket with a picture of Himself on it — and the marshals, who wore yellow vests, were insistent on us Staying In Our Place, but I just boarded the first train that came through and nobody ever checked my ticket. Big rules, no enforcement. I rode with a group of black women who had left Portsmouth, Va., at 1 a.m. to be sure to be there on time. They were heavily bundled and so excited they could hardly speak. And then when the conductor called out "Union Station, Washington," one of them looked at the others and she burst into tears. And they all cried. I would have, too, if they'd looked at me. Long lines at Union Station for coffee and restrooms, but everyone was in such a fine mood that waiting was painless, and the same was true of the line to go through security and be scanned and get onto the Capitol grounds. The line was six blocks long, the longest line I have ever stood in, but there is nothing so pleasant as being in a crowd of happy people when you are happy about the same thing they're happy about. Up above, cops with automatic rifles on parapets and walkways, and down below the mob milled along Louisiana Avenue and the line inched forward and the good will radiated up from the crowd just like in Grant Park on Election Night. It was more than Democrats feeling their oats or African-Americans celebrating the unimaginable, more than revulsion at the gang of bullheads who held power for too long. It was a huge gasp of pleasure at a new America emerging, a country we all tried to believe in, a nation that is curious and venturesome, more openhearted and public-spirited. All kinds of people, the slim and sleek, the XXXLs, the heavily insulated, the carefree, and we moved through ranks of souvenir sellers — whatever else he may accomplish, Obama has been a boon to the pin and T-shirt trade — and in our slow trek toward the Capitol, one felt the enormity of the day for the black people around us. I wouldn't try to express, I simply was grateful to be among it. Old ladies with sore feet hauled themselves along. The crowd down below the podium had their opinions. There was a profound silence when Mrs. Bush was announced and walked out. People watched the big screen and when Mrs. Obama appeared, there was a roar, and when the Current Occupant and Mr. Cheney came out of the Capitol, a low and heartfelt rumble of booing. Dignified booing. Old black ladies around me tried to shush them — "Don't do that!" they hissed — but it's a democracy, and how will those men know how we feel if we don't tell them? The band tootled on and there were shouts of "O-ba-ma" and also "Yes we can" (and also "Down in front") and then he came out and the place went up. That was the first big moment. The second was when he took the oath and said, "so help me, God" and the cannons boomed and you got a big lump in your throat. And the third was afterward. The invocation was extensive and segued into the Lord's Prayer, and the music was OK if you like Aaron Copland, and the inaugural speech was good enough, calling on us all to great deeds and sacrifice, details to be announced later. You could hear each oratorical phrase repeated over and over in the series of loudspeakers down the Mall and bouncing off stone facades, a sort of cubist effect. The inaugural poet followed, a sort of filler, with a long windup, a few good phrases in the middle ("someone is trying to make music somewhere ... a teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin.'"), and then it trailed off into some misty thoughts about love. And then a big horn blast of a benediction. But the great moment came later, as the mob flowed slowly across the grounds. I heard loud cheers behind me and there on the giant screen was the Former Occupant and Mrs. Bush saying goodbye to the Obamas in the parking lot behind the Capitol, the Marine helicopter behind them. The crowd stopped and stared, a little stunned at the reality of it. They saw it on a screen in front of the Capitol and it was actually happening on the other side. The Bushes went up the stairs, turned, waved and disappeared into the cabin, and people started to cheer in earnest. When the blades started turning, the cheering got louder, and when the chopper lifted up above the Capitol and we saw it in the sky heading for the airport, a million jubilant people waved and hollered for all they were worth. It was the most genuine, spontaneous, universal moment of the day. It was like watching the ice go out on the river. © 2009 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, INC.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Dreams in Pandemic Times?

 I rarely have the types of dreams that stick with me anymore. Do you? Once upon a time, I was one of those people who would recall their last dream's every detail to anyone who would pause to give me an opening. My sincere apologies. Seriously, that was terrible. 

But last night, I experienced what might be described as a bad dream with Covid 19 stirred in. N, I, the offspring and their partners, had stepped into a building. The building turned out to be a bar, filled with people drinking and smoking and no one wearing a mask. A chill fell upon me, when I realized the risks around us and none of us wearing a mask. And of course there was the drama and tension of finding everyone.

That's it. That's all I had to say. Perhaps (K hopes) if I write this down, it'll leave my brain sooner. Anyone else having weird dreams? Can't just be me. Love, K

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Learning to Drive a Stickshift

 Does learning to drive a stickshift, create a stronger memory than learning an automatic? I mean, with the extra brain growth, thanks to the third pedal and all the humiliation it offers, it seems like a firm foundation for long remembering. 

It was the early seventies, and there were three vehicles I can recall learning to drive in. One was a homely, unreliable, Ford Maverick, that Mom used to try to teach me, but only in the upper driveway. Guess she wanted to be close to home or hoped the stress would be less in a driveway. My favorite, was a car my father hated, a red Toyota Celica (formerly owned by older brother). Such a (short-lived) joy to drive! 

The third vehicle, was a Ford truck--most likely a 250. It sat high and had, what Dad called, a Granny Gear. Dad would take me down to our small town's frontage road. The road was built for traffic to easily navigate our small "industrial area" by the river. There was so little traffic, that the road was a safe bet for a new driver. 

During one of our drives, Dad spotted a friend coming towards us on the road. We stopped and the two of them enjoyed a nice spell of jawing, as I kept that strong clutch pedal down on the floor. It wasn't easy, but I wanted to show him how strong and able I was to hold that foot down and steady. But that's not what he noticed--he noticed an opportunity to tell me about neutral. Always something more to learn . . . 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Few of My Favorite Things

 Don't we all have our ever changing list of favorite items? Items that vanish from stores and we "ugh and sigh" at their loss and then buckle down to search for a replacement. No, you're correct, they don't always disappear, but we notice when they do.

Soap for instance: I prefer liquid soap over bar soap in the shower. Who knows why or when this occurred, but it's one of the items I've had to search for and replace. One brand that I recall, was Nature's Gate. They sold their company, but prior to the switch, they removed several items from their offerings--choosing to focus on shampoo and conditioner. Oh! And the same thing happened with Aubrey Organics. The latest fav soap, that appears to be gone, is EO Products', Vetiver and Coconut. It took me some time to get used to the scent, but now it's all I want. It's never a good sign, when you spot online folks selling lots of four of your fav scent. 

On the other hand, I can remember becoming a Paula Begoun fan back in the 80's. She was a regular guest on a morning show I watched most weekdays. Eventually, in the mid-nineties, she began her own cosmetics company in Seattle. Which led to me using her shampoo and conditioner for over twenty years. When you find something you like and need (unscented), you stick with it. (Did a search to check when she started, and learned she sold her company seven years ago. Now K is bummed.)

So, it's decision time once again, in the soap department. And I'm considering staying with the same brand and settling for one of the other scents. Settling--did not like typing that word, but there it is. It's not that big of a deal, K, plus--a good search takes time and you've got that. 

Later, K

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Social Thoughts and Concerns

 Hey . . . can we talk? In one of Carolyn Hax's recent columns, a reader sent in the following:

"To: Blanks: I suggest Anne Lamott's advice about life and growth: "It's an inside game." Which means we have to be our own cheerleaders, the authors of our own story in the face of loneliness, and we have to re-parent ourselves for all we never got. Looking to others serves just as an understandable, but ultimately pointless, struggle for meaning when it's really an "inside game."— Been there"

And their words resonated with me. Later, I began to ponder: how do we know what we never got? Or is it all about self awareness and seeing what needs to be tweaked and finding resources to guide us along? 

I'm guessing this is about two recent friend interactions, that left me noticing something--have I forgotten how to "be" with people? I've been trying to reassure and remind myself, that it might take some time, but I know how to do this. Hopefully. 

Love, K

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Does That Look Like a Wall to You?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've heard folks speak of the world hitting the six month wall of this pandemic. To me, that wall felt like someone had repeatedly dumped some gravel on this road we're traveling on, but I assumed it was due to the different, extra layers that have been dumped on us. 

There are states that have been dealing with devastating weather events, major fires and the smoke that goes with it, large virus outbreaks, events being planned that put towns, churches, families at risk, etc. Layer after layer--but not in a celebratory cake, more like straining the camel's back. And, every single part of the added layers, bring more concern and worry.

So today, when some suggestions turned into promises, we took a drive to Amity. I don't know what it is about a drive in the country, but those massive, gorgeous clouds, accenting the sky and the autumn light on the fields and orchards-- restore me. Whether we admit it or not, we are part of nature. We depend on it, and it depends on us. I hope we're up to the challenge, because time's running out.

Love, K

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Fortieth: The Joy of Sharing

 I can remember riding in the car with my mom, many years ago. I know I was a child, but no clue as to my age. We were driving past a relative's house, which reminded her of a story--more of an adult story than something shared with a child. Not inappropriate, just a story about a woman (can't remember which relation) whose husband was always accusing her of trying to get rid of him. 

So one day, the fed-up wife slips a note into his sandwich. The note read something like: "if I wanted to kill you, you'd already be dead"  I don't know whose delight was greater, mine at hearing such a story from Mom or Mom's delight in chewing on that tasty tale once again. 

Isn't that why we love to share those jokes and stories? It's like being able to revisit a lovely dinner, recalling each flavor and aroma, as we tell the tale of our sating.

Love, K

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Old Lady Problems

Over the past ten years, about every 6 months or so, my urethra gets irritated or inflamed. I blame it on menopause, but perhaps it's my flora getting out of balance. Sitz baths have been about the only thing that seem to work--or maybe it's just a matter of time until it clears up and the Sitz baths keep me entertained and temporarily soothed.

This Spring, our Fran, brought us some elderberry syrup from the farm she works on. I started taking a daily dose, until I forgot and the bottle was pushed to the back of the fridge. Then October arrived, and that twinge returned, and then a lightbulb went on over my head--maybe the elderberry syrup has some of the same properties as cranberry. And after a search online--I learn that it's true.

I wasn't prepared for such an immediate response and relief, but there it was. Once I ran out, I went to see what's available at my favorite supplement online shop, iHerb. Who knows why, but I chose Natures Way to try first. The results didn't give the same relief--it only lessened, not eliminated. I see they have another brand, Honey Gardens, that's calling to me. I'll let you know how that one pans out. 

Love, K

Update 11/04: The second brand, Gaia, seems better. I can tell when I take it, even if it doesn't give immediate relief.

Update 11/28: The most help of all comes from Fem-Dophilus®, from Jarrow. Thank you, cousin Clarissa.

Update 04/24: Nearly everything I tried helped ... to a certain extent. Then about three months ago, I began to think about any changes in my daily routine or the products I use. There's a brand and scent of Everybodys Soap, that I enjoy and then the scent was discontinued. I happened across a reseller on Amazon--and now I'm wondering if the reseller cut the product with a lower grade of soap, that caused my issue. <shrug> I'll never know for sure, but once I switched the problem disappeared completely.

Friday, October 9, 2020

When the House Demands Attention

 It started on Wednesday. We were three minutes away from finishing an episode of the current series we're streaming and . . . crickets. The modem's lights had gone out for good. No amount of rebooting or troubleshooting would remedy its desire to become a plastic brick. 

Thursday morning, we began an online search for the acceptable models allowed by our provider and drove the short distance to Office Depot. There weren't many choices on the shelf, but there was a model that would work in their glass case. And so we began to watch and wait for assistance from one of the five employees working on the floor, with about the same number of customers. 

After twelve minutes, a young employee came over to ask if we needed help. We told him we wanted an item in the case and he left (he said) to get the key. And then he didn't return after tenish minutes and we finally gave up and left. Our next planned stop was Best Buy, but I pointed out that Costco was on the way and worth a stop. Good old Costco had what we needed and it was one of the easier modem/router installations we've had. Yay!

Then later that day . . . when I was cleaning up after dinner . . . this garbage disposal newbie, clogged the drain. N snaked that pipe, until I told him it would still be there in the morning. And it was, just as stubborn as the night before--no magic in the wee hours for us. Today, he spent almost an hour snaking from the vent pipe on the roof, and broke through that mass of orange peel and used tea bags. Yay!

Are you done, House? I hope so. This is NOT the entertainment we were hoping for. Signed, K.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Feeling Slightly Ridiculous

 Two years ago, after our long time elderly neighbors passed away, we were fortunate enough to have gained some awesome across-the-street-neighbors. Then today they shared they're expecting another child and putting the house up for sale. To be honest, it's probably a good time for them to sell. Real estate seems to continue to move, unlike most of the rest of the world. 

But, instead of being happy and excited for them, I'm left feeling bereft. Because, unbeknownst to me, my brain was already anticipating being able to witness and enjoy the growing up, the milestones, the joys--yes, from across the street, NOT in their pockets.

And how utterly ridiculous is that? And even more ridiculous? My eyes may be leaking, as I type this. Blaming the damp keyboard on the pandemic . . . in my feeble opinion, we can blame much on this moment. 

By the way . . . do YOU want to be my neighbor? Love, K (hand me a tissue, please)

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Two Views, One Show

 This past week, N and I, watched HBO's version of Mildred Pierce. Neither of us had watched the 1945 Joan Crawford movie or read the book, so we came with fresh eyes. My first thought, while watching the opening credits, was an appreciation for the modern "film noir" nod via the chosen graphics, music, the tempo and content of the dialogue. 

After we completed the mini-series last night, I discovered N had successfully predicted the ending and I was left gobsmacked. That night we started a discussion about the film, that continued the next morning. This afternoon, I began to ponder how we had such a different experience. Then it dawned me, N was seeing the story from the viewpoint of Mildred's husband, Bert, and I was seeing it via Mildred's eyes.

That's it. Nothing more. But it was a lesson in perspective. Shift yours for a change.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Thirty-Ninth: Becoming an Aunt

 I was only eight years old, when my oldest (by 13 yrs) sibling had her first child. A baby! 

I don't remember much, but I do remember having something to share for Show & Tell at school--it was hard to compete with Disneyland, so I was glad to have something to elevate my rank. 

And, it's very possible, I glowed with the knowledge that I was now an AUNT! At EIGHT! Which probably happens less often now and I consider that progress (said The Consequence of the Rhythm Method). 

Love, K

Monday, September 28, 2020

Oopsie Pumpkin

 Today was our Costco day--according to the fridge, that is. Off we toddled, into the car and down the road-- after lunch, the way N prefers and I'm happy to oblige. I actually had a short list today--that was well padded during our travels through the store (of course). And, thankfully, we remembered--it's pumpkin pie for breakfast month! 

We were happy to see one of our favorite Costco employees at the checkout counter. (Hi, John! Bye, John!) And out the door we went. THEN, we began to notice a car that was hanging back on our heels. My first thought or two, was that the driver was anticipating us crossing the car path in front of them. But when we crossed, she was still there. 

I turned to make eye contact, she gestured towards our cart, I looked, saw nothing and then finally I went over to her passenger window. She gestured to our cart again . . . and FINALLY we saw the pumpkin pie escaping it's aluminum pan.

Fortunately, the majority of the pie slid into the plastic clam shell and not the ground or cart. It may not be pretty or easy to portion, but I reckon that pie will be just as tasty. And an attached memory that will make us laugh with each slice.

Happy Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast Season! 

Love, K


Sunday, September 27, 2020

To Find More Gratitude Essays or Let Them Find Me?

Several nights back, as I read my one Ross Gay essay before opening my novel, I began to wonder--
"what will I read when this is done?". I remembered seeing that Ross had written another, similar book, but maybe (I worried) . . . they're too similar. Or maybe this is one of those crossroads, where the decision must be made to rely on past good book picking fortune or to sit back and see what comes next. 

Sitting back seems the best strategy, because (speaking from past experience) so many of those books turn out to be a second chance after a first failed attempt to bring their joy to their readers. Though, to be honest, I doubt Ross would publish a "less than" book, but that's just my opinion.

Or maybe it's time for a new phase {shrugs}. Whatever comes next, I'll do my best to be present and focused, because there's always more to learn. Always. And I'm not talking about the weird, convoluted, conspiracy theories so many people are happy to let wash through and over them. That's not you, is it? Whew! 

Love,
K

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Thirty-Eighth: Snail Mail Joy

 

When it comes to snail mail, it's not just the writing, 

receiving and reading that bring joy--

there's also the discovering beauty nearby, 

tracking down its source 

and pulling out the wallet. 

Thanks, "What Penny Made"!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

And Today . . .

 Late last week, it was so great to watch the rain rinse the ash from our air. Suddenly, we can see the color of neighbors' houses and trees on the hill above us  . . .  plus the joy of good or better air. (Apologies to all who are still waiting for relief.) Then, after last night's dinner, we lost water pressure. A half hour or so later, we learn there's a broken water main, a short distance from our house. Another layer to this year--never a boring moment? Or something like that . . . maybe.

This morning, our Everbridge app alerted us to the inevitable boil water notice. Hard to complain when that broken water main was repaired seven hours later and we have shelter and everything we need to boil and store water for a day. Yes, indeed, it's difficult to complain, when you have an inkling over how much worse it might be. 

Soldier on . . .

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Thirty-Seventh: The Day After

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

Earlier this week, our area had one of those hours long, thunder and lightning storms: a seemingly never ending stream of "cells", levels of sound from loud grumbling, to a crazy roar of hail pelting the roof, a spectacle that can take your breath away. Then, finally--sleep in the last few hours left beneath the sheets.

When it was at long last done with us and rolling north up the freeway, a sweet group of memories popped into my head. When I worked with the wee folk, they'd enter the room in the morning, wide eyed with their memories of the previous night's big storm and the story sharing would begin. Probably much the same in all the small cafes and coffee shops--only younger eyes and shorter stories.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Spoon

Today, after licking the raspberry freezer jam off of a spoon, I felt like I was tasting everything I've been missing all these months. Something about that fresh sweet tang. It was like a brief but welcome, tap on the shoulder, to say "hey, remember me?".

Sunday, September 13, 2020

What Strange Times Are These 2020

 I was just getting used to the current retirement schedule--such a sweet wee groove I dug for myself: friend day, volunteer day, shopping day, etc. And then the virus showed up and the schedule constricted. N and I, did our best to adapt and adopt good practices and found ourselves in a new groove with fewer options, but . . . with food, shelter, entertainment (as well as the trailer taunting us in the driveway). 

Since the majority of the northwest, experienced a cooler, wetter, spring, we were hopeful for a less wild wildfire season. But then a historic east wind reared its old head, bringing down power lines, pushing the flames, consuming our flora, homes, businesses and fellow humans. And leaving us all choking in hazardous smoke--not just stuck at home, but stuck INSIDE.

I wouldn't have thought it was that much different, until I began to forget little routine things. And then I ponder--what else am I losing, but not noticing? <shrugs> Or I can start seeking some gratitude and singing those Raffi songs that re-landed in my brain this morning. Though I may be changing some of those lyrics. No offense, Raffi, but "Gonna Take A Walk Outside Today", is changing to "Gonna Stay Inside Today".


Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Thirty-Sixth: Heart Beeps

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

When bud K and I, were doing science lessons with the wee folk, we would make needed adjustments from year to year. Some adjustments were due to our time frame changing or a change in the number of small groups or to fix something that wasn't working great. One year, after doing our February lesson on the heart, we realized the wee folk weren't saying "heart beats", they were consistently saying "heart beeps".

We tried writing the two words on the board, to pronounce and compare the different consonant sounds, which helped, but then they'd revert back to "beep" without missing a beat (sorry, couldn't resist). Also, can I admit how difficult it is to correct "beeping" with a straight face? (But, no, stop that K! Save your sillies for recess!)

The following summer, I let my brain ruminate on the problem--inspiration arrived in the form of a small Bluetooth speaker. I'd purchased one for myself, to use while enjoying the backyard deck and was amused at the feel of the bass, when the speaker was in my hand. And that's when the spark landed. I searched online for a downloadable mp3 file of a human heart beat. 

It took some time, because we all know how much crap there is to wade through when doing a search for something specific. But eventually, I found a site with sounds for medical training--wahoo! There were a few bumps and potholes with keeping a good smart phone connection inside the building, but the hand-sized speaker emitting heartbeat vibrations was a huge hit. Their eyes lit up and the focused excitement level was on point . . . but . . . they continued saying "beep".

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Thirty-Fifth: Gifted Fence Tomatoes

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

Last Thursday, lucky for us, N had something he wanted to take a drive to check out. We hopped into the car and he drove us across the bridge to the west side of town. And then up the main road, through the residential area of apartment buildings and houses (some older, sagging houses, reminding motorists, that these haphazardly divided lots were once acres of farmland), and then the orchards, barns, rolling fields--some still growing and some harvested and a few tilled under, with the hint of the river, mostly hidden, on our right.

The Willamette has a greenway and water trail. We pass it often, as that particular drive beckons to us, but had never taken the time to stop. And that's what we came for this time--to finally stop and check out two of the access points. We didn't walk the trails far in the lose, dry, fine dust, that puffed up around each step. We walked just far enough to see what the access area offered and to watch a young couple cooling off their big dog in the water. And then home again, home again, jiggity jig. [As I type this, I'm surprised we didn't head to Dayton to pick up a fruit or pot pie. Doh!]

The pups were happy to see their tenders returned home before dinner time--so little trust after all these dog years! I opened the sliding glass door, to step outside to do some watering of the shaded plants in back, when I heard a man's voice say, "hello?". My brain decided it was our hard of hearing neighbor on his phone, but no--it was another neighbor, Ron. He said, he had too many tomatoes and couldn't visit friends to share during "our current situation". Would we like some? Amazingly, I didn't grab that tomato filled container right out of his hands, but I did make two batches of galette dough and we enjoyed bruschetta for dinner that night. And now I'll try not to wait on the deck, peering at the fence, waiting for more fence tomatoes.

Nearly forgot to brag--today we were given porch eggs, from the sweet fam across the street.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Reflecting

When did it start? Who knows, but I reckon it continued far longer than it should've. Perhaps it was the influence/role modeling of someone I worked with or it was due to whatever may have been going on in my life at that moment. Whatever it was, it was a force I didn't resist. Heck no--I embraced the hell out of those impulses.

What's amusing me, right now, as I type, is my firm belief that I had cracked the code of living in a small city, shoulder to shoulder with people (I'd been told) who wouldn't see my value if I didn't offer anything useful to them. "You'll see, it's different in a city. You'll need to dress better and be presentable whenever you leave the house." Ah, to peer at another's interesting baggage is . . . reassuring (and maybe amusing) in a way.

What was this force I had come under the influence of? Helping people. No one had asked or even hinted at needing this help I would dispense, but once I heard of (what I considered to be) a need or a lack, I might insert myself or rally others to step in. {Oh golly K! I'm embarrassed and ashamed to be typing this.) How did I finally "see myself"? I'm not sure, but it was probably in another's eyes or their words in response to something I'd done.

Change requires watchfulness and a willingness, which I'm working on. Though I do get concerned that I'm changing something fundamental about myself--where does this impulse begin and end? Am I trimming out too much? It'll probably continue to be a balancing act for awhile. <shrug> Besides, it's not like we stay static our entire lives. Thankfully.

Btw, my sincere apologies if you were ever a 'beneficiary' of my busybodiness. Sincerely, K.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Thirty-Fourth: Amusing Glimpses

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

How often do we take a moment and see ourselves, our actions, and the consequences? Once a day? Or all the freaking time?
No?
Seriously?
How does that not happen?
I mean, seriously.
So much possible amusement--just sitting there waiting to be gleaned from the vine.

The reason I ponder, is because our current pandemic situation has given (me) more opportunities for navel gazing, and such navel gazing rarely fails to embarass or shame . . . me. It's a daily struggle, say the tee shirts and memes. I was recently invited to go for a walk with a long legged bud. So what happened the night before? The mental planning, setting the (now rare) alarm and then . . . unable to sleep.

Those moments illuminate how many relaxation strategies I keep in my pocket . . . er . . . or under my pillow: breathing methods, backwards counting, kegeling (seriously), singing to self, tensing and relaxing muscles throughout the body. But on these "alarm nights", the methods become more like amusements that spark memories that spark smiles or a busy brain. And that's when I start to look forward to the following night--when my body will be unable to resist slumber. Thankfully.

Sweet dreams

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Thirty-Third: To Dare or Damn

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

It's a small and silly thing to remember, but there it is:

school dances and Mickey Wasson's amazing dance moves--
inspired (no doubt) by Elton John & Bernie's, Crocodile Rock.

And, of course, my brain connects a memory of Elaine's dance moves from an episode of Seinfeld--a celebration of joy, that many of us feel compelled to criticize and guffaw over.

I've often wondered . . . do the "guffawers" ever put themselves out there? Show their moves, their 'stuff', their (superior) intellect? Or are they locked forever into being only observers who mock?

If so, I'm glad none of them have asked me to join their club.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Thirty-Second: Henry

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

My very first boss was named Henry, though most folks called him Hank. He was Will Ferrell-esqe, before there was a Will Ferrell. He ruled over a staff of (mainly) mangy, high schoolers--training us up in the ways of Sizzler, making us laugh and comforting us when necessary. He was one in a million and I went so far as to look him up for that job in Portland, when my bud T and I decided to move.

He wasn't made for the type of business Sizzler ran. Henry believed in creating and maintaining a regular customer base. Which is what you need in a smaller town like Longview. So many unhappy customers, became friends of Henry and then regulars. Some people thought he was a schmoozer, but no, Henry was genuine.

Which makes this senior wonder, how many of the rest of his old crew still think of him all these decades later? Do they remember when he would pump the daily mist of insecticide into the dining area, while mimicking the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz, "I'll get you my pretty! And your little dog, too!"? Or when he'd bend over to stir the vat of ribs, simmering in sauce and evilly ponder: "Ever wonder what happened to that busboy? Bwa hahaha!"

Looking back, that year at Sizzler feels like a coming of age film. Especially, the after hours party, where one of the crew disappeared (temporarily) on the railroad tracks and Siz decided to let our buddy Hank go after parents expressed concern. But I'm glad I thought to write down this favorite boss remembrance. I'd forgotten how he was there to hold my hand after my car and I were hit at an intersection. The other driver left the scene, which made it even more traumatic for a teen. And Henry was there when my cat Raisin died. I hope he got to share in the good news, too. Thanks, for that year, Henry!

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Hairy Deed is Done


The pile of hair on the floor, 
wasn't as large 
as I thought it would be. 
But the incredible 
feeling of lightness 
is upon me. 

Oh and K? 
No backsies.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Thirty-First: A Furtive Thief

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

There were years, when our family of four, would head to Idaho's Cascade Reservoir, to join up with members of my family. This was during our tenting phase. I nearly typed 'days', but then realized those tents lasted for several years--no, I won't go back and count just for y'all.

The camping location, had everything to do with my parents and their love of Idaho and perch and my maternal family. I may have gotten the order of their reasons wrong, but you get the idea. A familiar location may call out to us for years: "come back!, your friends and family are here!, we need you!".

One of those years, during the full reign of the offspring and cousins', "Bodily Function Club", we noticed some strange happenings in the mornings. Perhaps it had to do with that particular campsite. It wasn't our usual.

We kept a Rubbermaid tub outside the tent flap. It's where we stored the family footwear and also provided a place to sit while putting on or removing shoes. Tho the kids didn't always make that extra effort to place their shoes inside the tub at night and I didn't always do it for them.

And then, one morning, one of the 'child alarms' went off, as they were crawling out of their sleeping bags and getting ready for the day.
"WHO TOOK MY OTHER SHOE?!"
The adults working on breakfast, probably made distracted suggestions on where to look and to have the others check to see if they had matching pairs on their feet. But no. That shoe was gone . . . until later in the day, when someone (another camper, maybe?) found it yards away from our site.

After that, more attention was paid to the proper storage of shoes at night. And thanks to G'ma's open ears and relationships with other RVers, the mystery was solved soon after. There was a mischievous fox, who liked shoes and pancakes. Huh, maybe the shoes were held hostage until the pancakes were handed over? Too fanciful? Never! What a shame we never got a photo.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Hairy Experiment

I think I'm done. Yeah, I'm fairly certain--despite my squiffy iffy words. Nothing definite, just a feeling or perhaps more of a desire to return to less fuss hair. Well, that and the reduced field of vision--something I don't remember anyone ever talking about--unless my brain discarded what it considered to be unnecessary information. And this fetlock of hair in the bang region . . . good golly, I can't believe I haven't sawed it off in frustration. I mean, it can be cute, in a "hurry take a picture, so I can put my barrett back in", kind of way.

But don't misunderstand me--it's been fun, I've learned more than I thought I needed to know about curls and waves, as well as the products. I wonder if I've learned enough to keep my current wash cycle of every two to three days? Or will I succumb to the old daily shampoo schedule? And will I keep wearing my bed beanie? Probably. I've come to appreciate less hair on the pillow and not looking like Kramer when I pop out of bed. Though, that was always a good morning laugh. In fact, the memory of some bedheads has made me chuckle as I type.

"Huh, maybe I ought to make that appointment with Karyn-who-cuts-the-hair . . . but there's no rush", mused the hairy procrastinator.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Thirtieth: House Hunting

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

It wasn't easy saying goodbye to Roseburg. It was the first time I had experienced the warm embrace of a new place. Later, I came to believe it was due to a chunk of the local population, that moved more often than average, creating a rhythm of folks moving in and folks moving out. Whatever the reason, it was a lovely place to raise kids, for so many reasons--most of which had to do with enjoying the outdoors and the people.

But the State was closing the office that N worked at for sixish years and we were offered a choice of places to choose from. After a weekend visit, we decided La Grande wasn't for us, which left Salem. The big plus, was that we'd be a few hours closer to family.

The downside was, N had to start work before we had moved our household. He tried camping in the back of his truck canopy at Silver Creek Falls Campground, but the distance to town, the chill of late October nights and partiers, put a damper on that. Thankfully, we had friends whose mother lived in Salem with a spare room.

During our search for a home, we stayed at a local hotel. Looking back, it seemed we searched for an entire week, but most likely just a long weekend or two. Nothing was feeling right--the yards were small, the prices were high, we were all exhausted and feeling the weight of needing to make a decision of some kind soon. Our realtor, Merri Friday, may not have been experienced, but she didn't give up easily. She also offered our offspring an afternoon at her house with her kids--something I'm sure they appreciated.

And then . . . the next day, Merri pulled some more freshly printed pages of homes for sale out of the printer. It was our last day to look. Once we drove up this street, I felt the draw of the neighborhood--trees! A park! Trees! It was the same, when we stepped foot inside the house. It felt like home and once my eyes met N's, I knew he felt the same. The owner, Mark, began to give N a tour of what he considered to be the highlights. Merri told us that the price may be higher than what we could afford, but she insisted we make an offer.

After our offer was accepted, there were a few bumps and stumbles before we were handed the keys, but the house was ours. All ours. And it still is. Love you always, you old abode!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Twenty-Ninth: Dancing in the Kitchen

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

When N and I, were first seeing each other, there were a couple of songs that were often playing--either on the radio or in our heads. One of the songs, If I'd Known You Better", by Hall & Oates, was always welcome on the radio and eventually our turntable.

Lately, I've been trying to seek more variety for my kitchen dance parties--I've been stuck in a glorious Blood, Sweat and Tears and The Guess Who rut for years. But wait K . . . there's so much more you've been ignoring all these years later. It's time to branch out and rediscover!

And so, yesterday, there I was, dancing my little heart out to that old song, with all the shiny memories and my wet face. What a delightful moment--accented by that big ol' smile on N's face. And now I'm thinking . . . what's up for tonight?
. . . Rita Coolidge's most popular album

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Hair! The Hair! The Hair!

How long have I been growing out this mop? Since I retired, I think, but not completely sure--two years maybe? Two years in and still trying to figure things out.

I go through stages of wanting to prune it or enjoy it with an inspection and adoration of the new locks. There isn't much emotion that falls between, to be honest--love or hate. And the endless number of alluring products--mostly with similar ingredients and SO MUCH scent. Good golly, I'm not trying to hide a corpse!

My most recent discovery is a combination of oils that don't leave my hair greasy and separating into . . . something less appetizing. Jessicurl has a product  that has been working well for me. I combine it with her Confident Curls, and Garnier Fructis leave in conditioner. But that doesn't mean I won't find something completely different in a couple of months. Always searching, that's me. One of things I appreciate about Jessicurl is her sample sizes. Who wants to buy a big bottle of untried hair product, over and over? Which makes me wonder if we shouldn't start requesting those sample sizes from all the companies.

These new oil combos, are a far cry from what was on offer in the seventies. I could never get the hang of the Alberto VO5 conditioning treatment in a tube. Could you? Always reminds me of that pomade I got into as a youngster. But these leave-in conditioners are much easier to apply, though you do have to figure out the combination that works best over a period of time and trials.

And here I sit with damp hair, wondering how the newest product, Klorane, is going to work. Huh, is my hair a hobby? It certainly is right now, K, it certainly is.

"Dear Hair,

You're a wavy whorl
Flowing through the air
The blonde spirals of curl
Full of frizz.
Unlike my friends' straight locks
Whom lay softly is
Mostly straightened and faux
I've learned to embrace
Creatively control
Keep in place
My mane in whole.
Cherished above
You are a terrific thrill.
Love,
Jill"
JILLIANE99

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Twenty-Eighth: The Possibilities of a Day

My late apologies, this ended up more like a rerun, but that seems right for these extraordinary times, when everything seems mostly the same each day. {K shrugs}

This afternoon, a social media bud, posted about what small things they're missing. And then my wheels start to spin a bit. My first thought was a concern such pondering might depress someone staying close to home during this pandemic, but once I began to muse, I realized it's an exercise into cherishing and inspecting those small, unexpected pleasures.

What comes to mind first? The sweet wee exchanges at the check-out counters--whether it's another customer or the clerk or both, they can lift the mood, open a face and maybe even bring a chuckle.

Perhaps I'm alone on the next possible bringer of joy, but doubtful. Now that I've begun to mull this one over, I'm wondering when it happened last. When you have a list of places you need to go, pet shop, post office, grocery store, book store, etc, and you plan the route that pleases.

So many of the looked forward to, appreciated, hoped for, involve people and places. Marked as, "something to look forward to", whenever enough people start taking this seriously and start wearing a mask.

I can wait.
I may not be thrilled,
but there's nothing to stop me from planning for afterwards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Twenty-Seventh: Freedom

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

There's a story that Mom would share about the two of us waiting in the doctor's waiting room. I was quite small, perhaps a toddler, and I was in pain, sitting on her lap, loudly wailing and sobbing, sobbing and wailing, my red wet eyes and my snotty nose. And then-- I stopped. And a smile erupted to transform that moment for all the witnesses. I can imagine my Mother's relief and then (perhaps) horror at the sight of what flowed out of my ear. Ah yes, the good old ear infection and the eventual freedom from pain.

When I was eleven or twelve, I was allowed to ride a Greyhound bus one hundred and six miles, all on my own--me and my little flowered suitcase. I'm unclear as to how it happened, but I do remember wanting to spend more time with my cousin Clarissa. Perhaps my cousin and I planned the entire trip--we didn't write those long long letters to one another about nothing. Or Mom had a brainstorm, but I usually had to push for any freedoms. It's still a surprise to me now, that I was allowed to go on that big adventure.

Huh, as I'm composing the next sentence in my head, I realize that it was peer pressure that nudged me to my first real job. Huh. My pal T, suddenly had more spending money of her own and was saving for her dream car. How? Where? When? Can I? Soon there were three of us buds working at Sizzler together. And soon I had a reason and money to get my own car. She was a lovely yellow, two door, Ford Pinto. The first thing I can remember doing after taking possession? I hopped in and started driving and then found myself at the beach. What an amazing feeling that was. Yeah, that was great.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Twenty-Sixth: Cha Cha Cha Changes

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

When I met N, it was during one of the "big eyewear moments"--as in size of lenses and frames. I enjoyed how his glasses accented his face, the bottom edge resting on his cheeks, rising up a tad, when he'd smile. Silly, I know, but I only knew a handful people who wore glasses back then. When they did, it was because of dire need. "I never saw birds or power lines, until I got my glasses", my childhood pal T informed me. And then, once we were wed, N began to notice my squinting. That's when I joined the spec club and began to appreciate clear vision.

I think that's one of the first "changes" I can remember. No, not the changes that we know are coming. I'm talking about our growing, maturing, learning and the eventual slippery slide towards death. The things we believe define us, the things we show or tell the people around us. Until we have an eye test . . . a realization, an epiphany, or we open our eyes wide enough to question those old tenets cluttering our brains.

One of the silliest changes? When we lived in Tillamook for 3 years, I began to associate the big black flies, the constant summer smell of manure slurry on the pastures, with the coast. Once we left, I didn't want to return. I can remember enjoying the surprise on people's faces, when I'd spout all of the reasons I rejected the beach. And now? Now it's one of my happy places, because we all know the benefits of a stroll on the beach or the lure of a sun sinking into the surf.

And there are others that amuse: my rejection of all red clothing for myself for years. Now I want all the red in my closet and drawers. Either I've changed my mind or those dyes are more pleasing? Who knows why. It's probably called being human isn't it? To evolve or soften or have a different opinion, show growth, reexamine old ideas. Yes, let's call it that--human.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Twenty-Fifth: Public Radio Nerd Alert

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

One of my favorite times of the morning, is when N and I loll and twine in bed for an hourish, listening to public radio. We snooze in and out of full listening mode, but when we listen to a story--it's with few distractions: those familiar soothing voices sharing news, music, nature, history, science and, yes, those less than soothing stories. We hadn't always immersed ourselves in their worlds, at least not in our first decade together.

There was a moment of introduction by my older brother in the late eighties--whether it was Prairie Home Companion or Car Talk or The New Yorker Radio Hour. Once we discovered there was entertainment to be had on the radio for road trips, we began to seek it out more often. And then, one day, it was only off once we turned on the television in the evenings.

That's when our offspring began to campaign during the pledge drives. I can still hear the scathing, snarky, tones--
"you know they're talking to you, right?"
"have you called yet?"
"it's called stealing."
"here, I wrote down the number for you."
"even Grandma M is a member!"
We resisted, we joked, and then finally joined the club. Or, perhaps I ought to phrase that differently--we caved? surrendered? cried uncle? And it felt good, to be honest.

And now, public radio has become intertwined with family memories: many long drives home, with various teens in the backseat, and we realize the quiet isn't due to sleeping-- no, they're engaged in a story. The sleepovers, where the offspring would show their friends how we spent our Saturday evenings--watching Keeping Up Appearances or The Vicar of Dibley or To the Manor Born. Apparently, that's when they thought we'd gone a step too far. {K shrugs and smiles and hopes the memories continue to bring them a smile.}

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Twenty-Fourth: Daily Delight

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

Well, then--where shall I begin? {At the beginning, K. Duh} 

The first possible delight of the day, is waking and discovering how many hours since I last checked the clock (something "working me", made an effort not to do). "An entire four hours!", I might remark to myself, while also inserting a mental high five.

And when Hope eats her food at the appointed time? It can feel like an unexpected gift of an hour, where I don't have to keep one eye on that dish, because Izzy does not need double meals.

Most days (particularly now, at this historical moment), I try to complete three crossword puzzles. How I love to come across a clue that my brain knows the answer to, yet I rarely know how. A delightful gobsmack?

SNAIL MAIL--both the receiving and the sending--and the joy is extended to crafting the replies; Having all of the ingredients for a recipe you chose at the last minute; Kitchen dance parties; Receiving a text from a bud; The pull of a good book; Writing; Taking a shower; Checking the plants in our yard; An earworm attached to a happy memory; Crawling into bed; Looking into N's eyes; Listening/visiting with our adult moppets; A job well done.

How about you? Where do you find your daily delights?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Twenty-Third: Rocks, Agates, Stones, Pebbles, BamBam

Part of a series inspired by Ross Gay
that starts here: 

Everyone enjoys rocks . . . right? Doesn't everyone have a small or large collection, or a favorite stone or six they keep close? What? They don't? Holy Sedimentary Rocks! How is this possible?

My first rock memory, was in Mrs. Minerva Kane's first grade classroom. We littles would bring in interesting bits of road gravel to share and she'd take it, admire its attributes, tell the owner what type of rock it was and then add it to the growing collection on the expansive window sill. She's the reason I used my first book sale quarter on a small book of gemstones.

Oh and did I mention that my folks were rockhounds? I don't recall any rock collecting trips during my time at home, but there was plenty of evidence to be found around our property. When my Pops decided to find a way to enjoy and display their prize finds, he created a base for a yard light. I don't know how involved I was in the process, but I do remember helping select and decide stone placement, when it was time to set them into the surface of the wet concrete.

Whenever we'd pass a rock shop during a road trip, I knew there was a chance the parents would stop. And the treat of touching, admiring those smooth, glossy surfaces, enjoying the patterns, crystals, colors and shapes, never got old: Montana Moss, Obsidian, Jasper, Tiger Eye, thunder eggs.

Many years later, when I was doing the science lessons with the wee folk, bud K and I eventually created a year end review. During our last sessions, we'd pass out remembering stones (agates) in velveteen pouches and each student would have the opportunity to share which science demo they enjoyed most. One year, all of us agreed that the breezy day we took our parachutes outside and one was caught in a tall tree and another sailed higher and higher, was a high point. Yes, that was some day. I can still picture your excited faces. Thanks for the joy.