Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Color Hues Quiz

Just took the quiz described by txsguinan, which she linked to from "Unhinged" (andreakingme).  It was fun and fast.  Here are my results...I guess it comes as close to true as anything... you are teal

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively

Monday, December 29, 2003

Merry Cardinal

Here's part of my Christmas cardinal collection.  I collect certain kinds of ornaments..cardinals are big with me, as are anything with moon and star motifs.  This ornament was a serendipitous marriage of the two...so I fell in love with it.  I know it's late in the game to continue posting Christmas things...but I just love Christmas.  Don't be surprised if I'm still posting pictures of Christmas ornaments in July.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Drag out the Memories

What do I remember about Christmases WAY past?

The smell of those big tree lights--before anyone ever heard of "Italian" lights (which is what the mini-lights were called when they first burst on the scene)--inexorably dehydrating the Christmas tree. Does anyone else think of that? Remeber those C7 lights with the red and black twisted wire cords? The ones that, if you looked at them now, you would recognize as a house fire waiting to happen? I remember, by about December 26th, we were cautioned not to "turn on the tree" unless it was absolutely necessary (?!) But that smell, if I ever smell it again, will ALYWAYS take me back to the sixties.

I remember chocolate marshmallow Santas. The ones we weren't allowed to eat until we got home from church, because you had to fast three hours before taking Communion. Later, they changed the rule to ONE hour, and we carefully counted the minutes until the EXACT time we figured they'd be serving Communion at Mass...and pigged out pre-church.

I remember mountains of presents. We weren't poor growing up, but we weren't rich. We never had a brand-name toy in our lives. But the booty my parents bought for the five of us, for $15 per kid, filled the entire living room from the tree in the corner to the dining room door. Those Depression children really knew how to stretch a buck!

I remember decorating the house...we got a jillion Christmas cards each year. We taped them around all the doorways, taped them to the wall to form a tree-shaped collage, and still had a stack left over.

I remeber big family dinners, and sitting at the "kids table" until I was about 18...I was the youngest and didn't get to sit with the big people until we lost older ones to marriage and moves out of state.

All so long ago...it seems more like a movie than MY past. But nice to remember.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Here's the Downstairs Tree

Here's tree no. 2...  It couldn't BE more different from my bedroom tree!  This one is (a.)real, and (b.)NOT a theme tree.  Actually, I guess you could say the theme is 27 years of married life.  Every Christmas. we unwrap our family history and hang it up for all to see.  Our oldest 25-cents-a-box-Kmart-Christmas-clearance (1977.) A toothpick ornament made  by my oldest niece when she was in first grade...(she's 33 now, and the toothpicks are getting kind of frail).  A pipecleaner snowman made by my youngest niece.  Some felt and sequin ornaments I made when I was in eighth grade (those would be 35 years old now...yikes!) and  the  fancy beaded satin balls I made when I was jobless in the fall of 1986 (to keep myself from going crazy.) The family heirloom ornaments--the kind that you find in antique stores now, labeled as 50's and 60's kitsch--handed down to us by my mother.  THIS tree, though this is a poor picture, is a large part of what Christmas is about for me.  

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Spare Change

This has been the greatest holiday season, so far. We have done SO many fun things...attended two concerts, entertained family and guests, decorated like a TV show. There have been holiday seasons, not so far past, it seems, that were more of nightmare than dream. I've been so blessed this year, and I am grateful.

Yet, I have been starkly reminded that there are others who are not so fortunate this holiday season. We went to a concert in downtown Portland last night...the Holiday Pops of the Oregon Symphony to be exact. As the spangled, velveted, satined patrons alit from their SUV's, sports sedans, and limousines onto the sidewalk under the twinkling marquee, a tiny old woman leaned forward from her shelter in a doorway asking, "Spare change?" in a quiet, Asian-accented voice. Springing out of my husband’s new Hyundai, trying to sprint between the raindrops to the shelter of the overhanging marquee, I nearly barreled right into her. Normally, I practice the conditioned reaction to "spare change" requests that people here in the Pacific Northwest have developed, in order to avoid impoverishing themselves by acceding to street-corner beggars…I pretend I didn’t hear and keep walking. I walked past her without acknowledging her, because that’s what you DO. But my heart was broken for her.

And I actually had NO change. I had stuffed my evening bag with lipstick, powder, my ID and credit cards. No money. And I was pretty sure she didn’t take VISA… I tried to put her out of my mind, and couldn’t. I knew I had to give her something. All this consideration took place in the wink of an eye…suddenly, I was dunning my sister and her husband for cash so I could put something into this poor little lady’s hand. My sister coughed up two bucks. I went back to the woman and pressed it into her hand. She said, "God bless you." And I blinked back the tears.

But her image stuck with me as we gave our tickets at the door, stepped into the marble vestibule of the concert hall, and ordered a couple of glasses of chardonnay to sip while we waited for my husband, who had gone to park the car. I was kind of relieved I had not put cash into my evening bag. All I had was a fifty dollar bill, and I had decided not to take it with me, because it would be too easy to lose. I’m pretty sure I would have given it to her if I’d had it with me.  …Maybe I’m NOT so glad I didn’t have it.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

More holiday pix

Just wanted to keep the holiday spirit flowing.  This is my niece, Leah..she's 11.  And my dog, Lucy...she's 3.  Picture was taken during the Thanksiving weekend when my house was full to bursting with family from down south (Eugene...120 miles south.)
Not a great picture, but I wanted the file size to be small enough so that it didn't take an hour to load.  I managed to fix Leah's red-eye with the software that came with my camera.  Didn't work on the dog, though.  So she looks like the mirror-eyed dog from hell.  But the antlers are cute, anyway.

Out of Character

Did I not just write an entire entry about being introverted? Then why was I inspired, today, to email my husband and tell him to bring his bosses home after work for a holiday drink? Well, it was a lovely day, I had no other plans, and the house looked fairly decent with all the decorations finally in place. So I guess I just thought it would be neat to have someone come over and enjoy them with us.

Now, I am no great housekeeper. I worked full-time, and more, for many years, and I just sort of got out of the habit of keeping house. I developed a very high "crap tolerance." Days worth of dirty dishes in the sink didn’t faze me; the bed got made when we changed the sheets (PLEASE don’t ask how often that was), and vacuuming was a quarterly affair. When I "retired" to working part-time and running my own business a few years ago, I determined to improve in the housekeeping department. But after 25 years of developing rather slovenly ways, my best efforts are not always sparkling. I keep the place looking passable, but I don’t think anyone would be tempted to eat off my floor.

So I ask again, WHY did I ask my husband to bring the boss home for a drink? "Passable," even darned decent for my husband and me, becomes something completely else when the prospect of having actual guests looms over the horizon. (Or in five hours time after the invite, to be precise.) I logged off, slammed down the laptop and morphed into the white tornado. Pushed unsightly items into unused bedrooms, shut the doors and hoped the guests wouldn’t ask for the "grand tour." Vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed, and dusted my fingers to the bone. Ran to the liquor store and bought a $28 bottle of Vodka. Threw together some holiday munchies. Tried to make myself look presentable. Whisked open the front door and played the delightful holiday hostess.

They were here for about an hour and a half. Only drank about 20% of the damned expensive vodka. Ate some of the hummus and spinach dip. Complimented us on the house. REALLY liked my dog. Husband was so appreciative of my asking them over, it was almost painful. And now I am exhausted. But it feels good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Alone, Above and Apart

Journal-surfing yesterday, I came across two separate references to the label of "introvert." One writer was really struggling with the appellation. Another seemed to wear it as a badge of honor. Let’s face it, people, if we all weren’t card-carrying introverts, we probably wouldn’t be spending the time we do pounding on these keys and filling up these pages. And, like the over-thinkers we are, we sometimes get to wondering (obsessing) about whether it’s okay to be our quiet little selves.

In my own life, I’ve found that I cherish and nurture my introversion, most of the time. As long as I can retreat to my quiet places when things get hectic, I maintain my balance. I have always needed time alone to recharge my batteries. But it can be a double-edged sword. If I am frightened or wounded, I tend to retreat into myself, and STAY there. And then it becomes a struggle to get out again.

I’m in the midst of one of those struggles right now, in fact. And it’s been a long, difficult one. Six years of heavy losses had driven me deep inside myself. I’ve been swimming back to the surface for about three years now. So odd to talk about this in terms of YEARS. I look at it, written in black and white, and think what a long time it’s taken me to GET OVER IT. Can’t imagine how much of a weenie other people must think I am. And yet, how can you set a timetable for grieving and healing? It takes a complicated blend of LETTING yourself recover, and MAKING yourself well. Now that I am finally hammering away at the wall I had built around myself, I find that I have missed an awful lot. I’ve been so self-centered the last few years, I feel like Rip van Winkle. I’m lifting my head, blinking, and thinking, "My, how the world has changed…"

I’m still an introvert. Probably always will be. Like all other secret indulgences, it’s fine—even healthy –in moderation. But, like drinking, drugs, or chocolate, can be dangerous if taken in excess.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Bedroom Tree

I mentioned that I was putting up a tree in my bedroom. Here it is, along with the mantel decorations on the fireplace next to it. Yes, I have a fireplace in my bedroom. We have owned five homes in 27 years, each one with a master bedroom the size of a closet. I was determined to hold out for better during our last home-buying experience. There may be plenty wrong with this house…including a yard that won’t grow grass, siding that is possibly going to turn to mushrooms, and bumps in the linoleum where the subfloor nails were pushed up by the last earthquake. But I have a 300-square-foot bedroom with a vaulted ceiling, by golly!
Now I’m going to try to post this before I get kicked off my modem again. There’s something wrong with our phones in the neighborhood…it’s like we’re all talking on one big party line. When someone calls the neighbor down the street, my phone rings. When she goes online, I pick up the phone and hear her modem noise. It’s most annoying. And impossible to spend any time on line without being bounced off. Here goes nothing…

Journal Envy

As I meander through aol’s Hometown, I encounter a recurring theme: journal-envy. At some point, every journalist compares her writings to the creations of fellow writers, and comes up wanting. I’ve gone through it myself…in fact just about every time I read another journal.

Now that I’m writing stuff that people might actually read, I feel like I USED to know how to write, once some long forgotten time ago. Many years ago, a career in journalism was the only thing that ever crossed my mind as a reason for going to college. But I didn’t go.

I ended up using my writing as a tool to maintain my sanity. I wrote about myself. Filled journal pages with angst. Poured out through my pen the things that I couldn’t talk to anybody about. Used my spiral notebook as my own personal psychoanalyst. And it worked. There are times I KNOW my writing kept me sane. Unfortunately, writing for oneself doesn’t keep the skills sharp. When you aren’t really trying to communicate with anyone else, you forget how. Forget what might be interesting to other people. Forget how to entertain. When all you’ve done for the last thirty years is write to yourself, some very important skills become very dormant.

I actually stopped writing for awhile. I had a job I loved, I had friends, I had a great relationship with my family, and my marriage was rolling along on oiled wheels. I was free, or I thought I was, from the sadness and disillusionment that had always sent me to my journals. I felt like I had finally grown up.

In 1994, things started to go rapidly downhill. I lost my job, left my friends behind to move to another city. In early1995 I was in Illinois waiting for my sister to die. The old sadness and confusion were coming back, only this time, they came from outside, from things that were happening to me, not in my head. I reached for my pen again, and haven’t put it down since.

What I would like to do now is take my writing to the next level. Obviously, by writing here, I’m showing I want to start communicating with other people. To entertain and inform. To share, and maybe to help someone else get through something I have struggled with and learned from. And so I shall try…

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


I have the world's WORST job history.  There's something about me that just DOESN'T shine, working for other people. Because I'm a perfectionist?  A control freak?  Dunno...I start out every new job trying so hard to be perfect that I turn into a total harpy.  Then, if I should be so lucky as to not be fired for being a bitch, I become CERTAIN I could do a better job running the company than the owners.  Or the owners' kids---which is REALLY the kiss of death.  I've had exactly two jobs in my life where I was actually successful, challenged, appreciated, and LIKED by the people I worked for and with.  Not a very good record for someone who's been in the workplace for 30 years. 

I've filled pages and pages of journals with my job woes.  After awhile, I began to recognize a pattern (DUH!)  Of course, I began seeing this when I was 28 years old.  It took me almost twenty years (and the passing of my father-in-law [$]) to finally decide to break the pattern.

Two years ago, we plunged into the festival concession business.  Bought Big Red (our huge, mostly unroadworthy trailer) and a bunch of used restaurant equipment, and spang! started that "own business" I'd been wanting (needing) for years. 

Then the question became, what to do with the off-season?  Six months of the year, the trailer is up on blocks.  And I need soemthing to do.  But I DON'T need to work, thank God.  So I've been kicking around the idea of volunteering for a long time.  A couple of weeks ago I just fell into the right opportunity.  Started my first day today.  How can I describe the freedom of NOT being paid to work?  Completely pressure-free.  I apologize for arriving ten minutes late.  "Oh, we don't worry about that around here..."  I get all kinds of strokes about how "on the ball" I am.  Better than money, at this stage of my life.  The jar of Hershey kisses on the desk is really the only compensation I need!        

Vote 'im Off

Overheard at a McDonald's, one counter worker to another:  "I don't like President Bush.  If this were Survivor, he'd be voted off the island."

I don't know how to respond to this.  At first, I just thought it was really funny.  The comment echoed my feelings about Bush.  But when I got to thinking about it, it became sort of un-funny.  Is this how the average American understands the political situation in our country?  When you say the word "vote" to the guy next door, is reality TV the first thing that pops into his mind? 

I'm not the most politically savvy person in the world, and I haven't always been mindful of my civic duty.  But the events of the last few years have made me wake up to the fact of how important my vote is.  I've learned this from watching the tube, sure, but not from tuning in to "Survivor."  More like from watching long days of coverage of 9/11, and from watching Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld stand in front of the American people and lie through their teeth about the reasons for attacking Iraq.  Important things are happening now.  Serious choices have to be made in the voting booth.  And the guy at the machine next to me might just be thinking he's voting someone off the island.  Well, at least I hope it's Bush. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2003


Well, I promised pictures of the finished product.  It's hard to take pix of outdoor Christmas lights, so this is the best I could do.  What you can't see in this picture is the lights and stars running down the fence to the right.
I'm not sure if I'm actually DONE...it's my general habit to keep adding as long as the extension cords and outlets are available. Probably going to put some lighted garland around the door, and also put some lights on the topiary (it's rosemary..and it needs a haircut) to the right.  And did I mention that we will be putting up three Christmas trees in the house?  One in the living room, one in my bedroom, and a table-top number in the family room.  I love doing all the decorating, but when it comes time to pack it up and put it all away again, I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it all disappear neatly back into the packing crates.

Closet Diva

I have a THING for velvet and glitter.  Sounds kind of funny coming from a former hippie, I know.  When it comes to the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am ALL about glitter nail polish, rhinestones, red and black velvet, and lame.  I discovered a shop that's an absolute hoot.  It's a ridiculous little place in Old Town--a tumble-down twenties storefront with an inside to match.  Every square inch is heaped with dresses, scarves, jewelry, throws, beaded headdresses, sequined masks.  Anything outrageous or over-the-top.  Jilly, the proprietress, has connections to several garment importers; she gets these samples and sells them off.  Everything is one of a kind, most things come in sizes small or extra large and nothing in between (and small is SMALL...probably sized to fit some tiny Asian woman.)  You have to look at everything on a rack to find something you love in the right size.  But you always do, at least if you're me. 

I got this bee in my bonnet that I wanted to add some things to my holiday wardrobe.  Not that I don't already have a half-dozen velvet dresses hanging in my closet...  So I went to Jilly's yesterday.  God, she had some beautiful dresses.  I must have tried on about a dozen.  She kept bringing me things.  Brought me one that was SO pretty, all silver glitter on a purple ground with rhinestone buckles on the straps and drapey...things round the neck.  It was a small, but I thought, what the heck.  Took me five minutes to squeeze into it, and of course I looked like an overstuffed bratwurst in drag.  And then...I could NOT get it off.  Felt like I was trying to extract my entire body from a Chinese handcuff.  Finally managed to squirm out of it..did you know, glitter has teeth?  Chewed the hell out of my arms and neck, AND even embedded in my face.

I chose a more understated red velvet number with sequined straps.  AND a red sequin halter top.  AND a black beaded top.  AND a brown velvet jacket.  Spent $104...and felt like a million when I jumped into my van with my free red foil gift bag (for customers that spend over $50) full of treasure.     

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Holiday Stuff

Well, THAT holiday is over! It was an absolute zoo around here for four days.  Had three sisters, one mother, one brother-in-law, a niece and a nephew here from Thursday through Sunday.  Mom slept in a rented hospital bed in the living room, the two extra upstairs bedrooms were full to overflowing, and one sister (with allergies) slept outside in our RV.  I'm sure nine people doesn't seem like a huge crowd to some, but, as I said, we're used to just the husband and me rattling around in this big house.  The rest of the family lives 120 miles south...so when they visit, they come en masse and usually stay for a few days!  It's exhausting, but I enjoyed the heck out of it.  And I think everyone had a good time.  SO different from some of the crappy holidays we had just after my dad died.  Back then, it seemed like we would never enjoy each other as a family again.  This is one GOOD lesson I've learned in the past five years:  Never say "never." 

So, now I'm going to spend the entire week putting up outdoor Christmas lights.  On Sunday, Matt and I climbed up on the roof and did the "upstairs" part of the lights.  It wasn't raining (unusual for the Pacific Northwest this time of year) so we thought we'd take advantage of it in order to lessen our chances of falling off the roof and becoming holiday statistics.  Yesterday, I TRIED to continue the momentum.  Put up two strings of fancy lights, fussed with their exact placement for about 45 minutes, and THEN plugged them in.  Of course they didn't work.  About a half hour into the process I thought, you know, I really should have tested these before putting them up....  Duh!

Today, I'm off to the pool, and then I'll come home and TRY to finish the lights.  I need to get a picture and post it when they're done.  They're really quite a production.  Our house sits at the end of a long block...kind of a showcase location in the neighborhood.  So,of course, I feel obligated to make it LOOK like a showplace during the holidays ;-).  Our electric bill is way high in December... 

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, here it is, a quarter past midnight on Thanksgiving eve.  It's really a pain in the ass to type, because I've had two glasses of wine, and I got acrylic nails a week ago...just imagine!

I'm having the whole famn damily up for the holiday weekend.  Only nine people, but given that I'm used to only the two of us rattling around in this big house, it IS a big deal. Went to the grocery store today and spent $180 just on food for the next two days.  Of course, the place was a zoo.  Nearly took out five or six people with my two-ton grocery cart...  I now have orange Jello spilled all over my favorite sweater...  I had to substitute flat canned artificial whipped cream for Cool Whip in a dessert recipe because I forgot to leave the Cool Whip out of the freezer when I brought the groceries home.  (Can't wait to see how THAT dessert turns out!)  Ah...the holidays!!! 

I plan on starting the day tomorrow watching the Macy's parade.  NEVER miss it.  It's the only way to start a Thanksgiving day,.  The husband is all about the football games.  I told him, we have two tv's...he can go upstairs and watch football whilst I watch the parade and cook my fingers to the bone downstars.  Family scheduled to arrive noonish.  I am pumped!!

I am going to go over this entry and correct all the acrylic-nail caused typos...but I really should post it as is.  It would teach us all a valuable lesson about getting nails and trying to keep a web journal...  :-]

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Star Trek Wars

Uh-oh...now I'm going to get involved in a Star Trekian struggle with nzforme.   I commented in her journal on a remark she had made about William Shatner.  I merely said that I don't get why people are forever knocking him. How many other actors have transmuted a starring role in a low-budget, 2 1/2 year long tv sci-fi drama into a thirty year career?  And with an incredible sense of humor about it all...

People always compare Shatner to Patrick Stewart, and Stewart invariably comes out on top.  To me, it's like comparing apples and oranges.  Shatner is a career television actor.  He's been on tv almost since they dug up the foundation of that particular medium.  It's who he is...it's what he does.  Stewart, on the other hand (as nzforme crowed in her reply to my comment) is a classically trained stage actor.  Their styles are completely different...but that doesn't mean one is great and the other horrendous.  In fact, what I've begun to understand of late, as I watch TNG reruns on "Spike", is that Patrick Stewart can out-overact Bill Shatner any day of the week.  I think we just don't see it because of the British accent...  I think I first realized this when I saw Stewart in TNT's "A Christmas Carol."  I'm sorry...his performance would have been wonderful onstage, but was WAY over the top for the tiny screen.

Now, please don't nail me to a cross because you think I prefer Shatner to Stewart.  I actually LOVE Patrick Stewart.  I have DREAMS about Patrick Stewart (never really had a dream starring Captain Kirk.)  Just trying to be fair, and give Bill Shatner credit for making a hell of a career of James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Commentary on "Old Friends"

My old friend came to Oregon for a visit in October of 1997, and I haven't seen or heard from her since. 

The remarkable thing about that letter is, I believe I actually gave it to her.  I was so much more willing to be generous with myself back then.  I wanted to tell other people how much they meant to me. I was determined not to be afraid to expose my deepest feelings for the people I loved the most. 

You know, I can't do that anymore.  I think that was the thing that struck me about this letter...the reason I had to put it in this journal. To show how life changes you.  How the sheer weight of the years, and the tears, just flatten you.  When you're young and innocent, you can throw your emotions around like that.  After you've had them thrown back at you a hundred million times, you start to keep things to yourself.  You get older, you get tired, you don't want to take those chances anymore.  The chance that the gift of your love...will not be looked upon as such a great gift after all.

Ah, what a downer of a journal entry!  But it was an upper, too.  It was good to remember that once I had a friend I loved so much.  And that I let her know.    

Old Friends

I was looking over my ancient journals, trying to find a poem I wanted to share here. Instead, I found this. It is the draft of the goodbye letter I wrote to my one girlfriend back in the midwest when my husband and I left for Oregon nineteen years ago. Terry and I had been friends since  first grade. I was 29 years old when we moved away…

I’m afraid I have to fashion my own goodbye, or feel I was being untrue to myself. Each time a member of my family tore away from me to journey out West, there was no proper goodbye---only a sort of "We’ll be seeing you" or "We’ll keep in touch." Never a release of the sadness of parting. Never an acknowledgment that a time of closeness was ending and a time of distances beginning.

I have learned through the absences of my sisters that distances do change relationships. Much as we hope against just that when we embark on our separate journeys, and much as we swear to each other that it WILL NOT happen, still it must.

Sometimes I have yearned so achingly for what once was that I thought I would drown in uncried tears. Perhaps that is more than a small part of what causes me to make my own journey now. And yet, I leave someone behind who would tip the scales toward staying, if that were the only reason for going.

We are given family from birth, with no option to say we want them or we don’t. We grow to love them because we know nothing else. But we choose our friends. Long ago, and it is long ago, you and I chose each other. Through the years, it has often looked as if one of us had outgrown the other, or as if some storm would finally destroy us. Yet, somehow, we never seem to have really had the choice of reversing our decision to love one another as sisters. Love is often stronger than whatever life can deal to it.

…Please, never forget that our friendship has always been something absolutely special to me—at times it has been my lifeline to the rest of the human race when I would have thought that humanity had abandoned me.

Our friendship will not end here. It will simply change here, in ways we can’t understand or foresee because we are still young. Know that I love you and always will, for long ago, when we chose each other as friends, I believe we chose for life.


I mentioned in my last entry that I embraced liberal politics when I was in high school. I still do...but it has been an interesting journey. Actually got lost a couple of times, but I think I'm back on the right track now.

I grew up during the Vietnam War. The last draft lottery for the war was held for kids three years older than me. And it had been going on for more than a decade before that. Young guys, eighteen years old, inducted into the army and sent to hell in Vietnam. Many didn't come home. For a person my age, watching my contemporaries worry about being sent to fight a war half a world away for a cause they didn't believe in, there was no other way to BE besides liberal. Anti-war. Anti-murder.

Funny thing was, in the eighties, I became a born-again Christian. We were REALLY involved in a Pentecostal church. To the tune of having church-related activities going on five or six nights a week. Unfortunately, I had a HUGE problem with their politics. I remember being EXTREMELY troubled when our pastor, a former Catholic like myself, stood at the pulpit on a Sunday morning and told us all to go to the polls and "vote for the Ronald Reagan of our choice." I HATED Ronald Reagan. Always have, always will. But I never told anybody in our little Christian church. Looking back, I see how cowardly that was.

It was the Reagan years that sealed my bond to the Democratic party. The "trickle down" economics (I never got trickled down on, did you?) The wheeling and dealing, and never getting nailed for the illegal things he did. They called him "Teflon Ron..." And then, the conservative talk show thing started. The red-neck, "my way or the highway", holier-than-thou ***holes like Rush Limbaugh. I cringe for the American public, that jerks like Limbaugh have garnered such a following. Do you know, out here in Oregon, we have one of the greatest listenerships in the country for public radio? Because all they play on AM are conservative talk shows. Gag me with a spoon.

And so what can I say about GW Bush? That he scares the hell out of me? That he makes me so angry I can hardly see? That I can’t believe the American people have given a man who has the IQ of a garden slug the kind of adulation they have?  I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t care if the Democrats send Donald Duck up against him next November. Donald will get my vote.

Sunday, November 16, 2003


I went to high school in the early seventies. I keep thinking it was maybe the best time in the last forty years to be a teen-ager. It’s not that we didn’t have angst, and certainly not that we didn’t suffer from raging hormones. But we were the tail-end of the "Love" generation. It was COOL to appreciate other people…and decidedly UN-cool to be judgmental or unaccepting of anyone. The drugged-out potheads…they were cool. The over-achieving college bounders…they were cool. It was the days of "Do your own thing" and "Whatever makes your boat float." Society as a whole, and therefore, those of us incarcerated in society’s high schools, were into the mind-expanding exercise of looking at other people, trying to understand "where they were coming from", and letting them go ahead and COME from there.

I was a "conservative" hippie in high school. A walking contradiction in terms. I dressed like a hippie, embraced liberal politics, but didn’t (and still don’t) smoke pot or use any kind of drugs. People didn’t GET me, but they let me be. I was standing at the mirror one day after gym class, applying my face. A girl I hardly knew came up to me and said, "You wear the cutest clothes…" I remember blushing purple, stammering, "Thank you," and being jazzed that someone had complimented my wardrobe. And that was it. How would this episode play out today? What kind of serious acceptance/rejection drama would be going on? That kind of stuff—what you wear, and what other people think about it---seems to have TONS more weight than it ever did when I was young. To say nothing of where you live, who your friends are, what kind of music you listen to, what kind of video games you play...  It's all so much a matter of HAVING to have and do all the right things, or being completely ostracized.  I'm glad things weren't like that for me...I was nuts enough without all that going on!

Picture Grab-bag--Episode 2

Pulled out another picture for "Show & Tell."  It's a bad picture, but I scanned it in.  It's of my husband and me on our 25th wedding anniversary.

My mother and sisters took us on a weekend to the Oregon Coast, and threw us a little dinner at the hotel restaurant.  It was kind of a surprise, given the upheaval that our family had gone through after my dad passed away in 1999. I half  believed my family wouldn't choose to help us celebrate our special milestone.  My husband's mother used say, "We're going to be a family if it kills us."  For the Baldwin girls from 1999  through 2001, it damn near did.

Dad was diagnosed with cancer in September of 1998, had surgery October 1, and died four months later, almost to the day.  Two weeks after Dad's surgery, Mom was sent to the ER in the middle of the night with back pains so severe she couldn't move.  For the next four months, while we daughters were trying to help my dad die at home, Mom was bounced in and out of hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities.  Three months after Dad passed away, they finally diagnosed my mother's illness and treated her for it.  It took six weeks of IV antibiotics to knock out the bone infection in her spine. Mom had lost 100 lbs.and looked like she had aged 20 years. She COULD have died while Medicare kept costs down by throwing her out of the hospital three times without a diagnosis, so they wouldn't have to pay for nursing home care.  AND Dad died of cancer in the interim.

We four girls ended up taking out our grief, fears and frustrations on each other, for whatever reason.  I felt as if I hadn't just lost my dad, but my entire family.  We said and did things that we never knew we were capable of.  And the memory hasn't gone completely away...

So, I started out writing about our 25th wedding anniversary weekend, and ended up telling the story of my familiy's troubled journey through my Dad's death.  That's how my mind works.  If I ever HAD to write an article about a specific thing, and keep to the subject, I'd be sunk...

Thursday, November 13, 2003


Ever have one of those times when absolutely NOTHING would go right?  I had to go down to Eugene to do an "event" for my catering business...  It was actually a favor for my sister.  In the last four days I have:

1.)Driven ninety miles looking for a coffee supplier that's only 16 miles from my house.

2.)Paid $26 for two lbs. of coffee beans because said supplier was closed when I finally found it, and I had to buy the coffee retail. 

3.)Driven 150 miles to cater an event where only five people showed up.

4.)Developed tendonitis in my left ankle from driving my husband's (five-speed) car to and from said event (Ow!)

5.)BROKE my espresso machine.

6.)Found out that espresso machine can only be fixed with a part that comes from Italy.

7.)Wasted 6 1/2 hours sitting at an event where only five people showed up.  The organizers went away and left ME to deal with their clients!?!

8.)Got a tankful of gas that was EASILY 15 cents per gallon more expensive than ANYWHERE else in town (didn't look at the sign before I said "Fill 'er up!")

9.)HAVE NOT yet been, and probably won't be, paid for catering event.

This past week has been a lesson in how NOT to be a successful entrepreneur!  Moral of story:  Doing favors for family members is probably NOT sound business practice.   

Monday, November 10, 2003

Adventures in Jounal-land

Been out and about, reading other journals.  I haven't found too many, yet, that I think are worth going back to again and again.  Keep running into references about being nominated for "Top Journal Picks" or whatever.  Seems we've even found a way to make journal writing a competitive endeavor.  :-P

I write this journal because I will always have things rolling around in my head that have to come out through my pen (keyboard?)  Always have had, but most of the stuff I've written will never see the light of day, so to speak.  You don't go around asking other people to read your journal.  I've even gone so far as to leave my notebooks lying around where my husband couldn't miss them, open to something I would have loved him to read.  Alas...he's such a respecter of my privacy, even that didn't work.  Don't know that I could be so purehearted if the tables were turned...

Anyway, when I learned about "blogging" it seemed to offer me what I've always wanted:  The opportunity to write things that other people might even READ.  I don't want to use this as a forum to prove I'm a good writer.  (I might have been once, many years ago, before I lost my innocence...)  I'm just hoping I can write something that makes sense to someone else.  I read over my old journals a lot.   They go back thirty years.  I can say the stuff is good...but what a kick it would be if there was someone who could back me up! 

Anyway, back to my original point...Why does it have to be a competition?  All you budding (frustrated?) writers out there...who do you hope is gonna read this stuff?  Are there journal scouts out there that I don't know about?  Kind of changes the spirit of the whole "journal" idea.  Makes the writing frenetic and superficially entertaining, like Hans Christian Anderson on meth.   Maybe I'm just reading the wrong journals?

Saturday, November 8, 2003

"Celia, yer breakin' my heart..."

What acts would I pay real money to see?  Never been much of a concert-goer...never seemed to be able to spare the money for tickets, which were always a little more than I wanted to spend.  In the last ten years, I have seen:  Stars on Ice, Taps, Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, John Denver (about a year before he died), Dan Fogelberg (a disappointing acoustic concert)...a few others.  And, last Sunday night, the Simon & Garfunkel "Old Friends" Tour. 

The concert was ALL about the old songs... they sang nothing less than twenty years old.  Considering the body of work they've both produced in forty years, I thought that kind of odd...  But I enjoyed the hell out it.  Knew all the words, and sang along on most (quietly...unlilke the boozy guy sitting next to my sister who belted out every song MOST untunefully.) 

And of course the crowd was funny.  Standing in line to get in, there were a couple of kids in their twenties...looking around saying, "Dude, there's no one else here our age.."  No, there wasn't.  We were a very happy, orderly, slightly high crowd of forty-,fifty-, and sixty-somethings.  Gathered to hear our "Old Friends" sing Sounds of Silence one more time. 

Sometimes I sit and wonder when I lost track of the current music scene.  Must have been in the eighties, really, when I stopped being aware of what was happening on the charts.  I hear Blondie or the Eurythmics on the radio, and think it was only a few years ago that they were "happening..." But it's been twenty years.  And I was already an adult then.  I heard somewhere that fifty is the new thirty.  I think it's true...fifty seems to be the age when we boomers finally have to admit we're grown-ups (read old).  But I'm hopelessly distant from popular music these days.  During the nineties and early 0's (is that what you call them?), "music" has become increasingly violent, and that doesn't appeal to me at all.  I tend to surround myself with the old stuff.  Much more comforting (and tuneful.)  Am I starting to sound like an old fart?  Don't answer that...

Thursday, November 6, 2003


I mentioned that husband and I had serious talks when we were on vacation two weeks ago.  One of the conclusions we came to was that we needed to keep talking.  He came up with the idea that we set aside a couple of hours once a week to sit and talk.  Being the creature of list and schedule that he is, he thought it best to go with the same time and day each week.  To me, this seemed a little...forced.  But he IS acknowledging the need; it would have been stupid for me to veto his method.

So, Wednesday nights at 6 pm it is.  Last week, we just sort of dusted the surface of things.  It was pleasant, but we didn't resolve anything, either.  Yesterday, I was determined to go deeper.  I told him how I felt after losing my job nine years ago, and then running headlong into my sister's illness and death, without ever really having time to deal with the failure of the job.  How that started a whole downward trend for me, which lasted years.  In fact, I told him, I'm just NOW getting to be able to stand back and look at it as the PAST, and not feel like I'm still in the middle of it.  I wanted him to know that I've felt like an emotional basket case much of the time, and I also felt like that's what HE thought I was.  I imagined him spending the last five years wanting me to GET OVER IT!  And I wanted him to know how hard it's been.

We discovered that, during that time when we were, for all intents and purposes, living apart, when we started having real problems, we stopped talking.  It was just too hard, and we didn't see each other enough to make it worth spoiling the time we had together by hashing things out.  It was a mistake.  Things just got worse, until we became more and more like strangers.  And then, five or six years later, we're looking at each other and wondering how we got so far apart.

This stuff is HARD.  In the middle of our talk last night, he looked at me and said, "Is this cathartic?  Are we making any progress here?"  Like a kid in the backseat asking "Are we there yet?"  No, not yet...but getting there.     

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Picture Grab-bag

I stuck my hand into one of my boxes of pictures (all meant for a "someday" project), pulled one out at random to scan into my journal, and then tell the story. Makes this journal more about me.  

This my backyard flower border at our previous home.  It was my attempt at an "English Garden" perennial border.  It actually doesn't look too bad...decent job of varying foliage colors and textures.  This was how it looked at the height of the season. At the time, I thought it looked okay...but it really was a pain in the butt.  All the weeding, dividing, and pulling out of spent plants...TOO much work to keep up.

And now...how I miss it!  The trick to the border above is that the previous owner had cared for and amended those flower beds for years.  All I had to do was plunk in the flowers I liked, and they grew.  The yard at our new home could be a nuclear waste dump, as good as it is for planting. Being newer construction, the house is built on layer upon layer of what they call "fill dirt" which is anything anybody wanted to dump there (it actually COULD be nuclear waste...), and then it got run over and tamped down by a HUGE bulldozer until it was high and level enough to build a house on.  Needless to say, this kind of "garden" does not accept plants too readily.  We've planted trees...it took us four hours, working with a sharp-pointed maul and pick (Shovel? Did you say shovel?  You can't use no stinking shovel) to dig a hole for a small plum tree.  It didn't die, but let's just say it's not thriving.  Even the lawn is patchy and sick. 

Our new yard will be a long, drawn-out project.  And I am NOT the most patient person in the world.  In the end, though, I just love working in the garden, even if the results are less than prize-worthy.  I like being outside as long as the weather is decent.  I love feeding the birds and talking to them while I dig, prune, mow, water, and sweep.  Bugs, which I used to scream and run away from when I was little (until I was about thirty), I just push out of my way and keep digging.  For me, I guess it's more about the process than the results. 

Friday, October 31, 2003


Ah, yes...work.  Earlier in my journal I was talking about how much I DIDN'T want to go back to work.  And yet I did.  Why?  There's so much history to this, it'll hardly fit into one of these little journal entries.

I started working full-time in the restaurant business thirty years ago, when I was eighteen.  I always felt bad about what I did for a living, thought it was somehow beneath me.  I SHOULD have gone to college, should have had A Career.  But, when I was seventeen, graduating high school with NO idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, my family didn't have the money to send me off to college to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  And I didn't WANT anything badly enough to put myself through college.

So I got a job at a local pizza parlor,  and the rest is history.  It seems like menial work, but the ride was rarely easy.  I was an intelligent female in a world dominated by men.  Probably, I took my lumps like any working woman of my generation.  I had some successes.  But, all in all, I was miserable working for other people who had less vision, less intelligence, but more money than I had.  And I had the added misfortune of  working for several small business owners or managers who were really certifiable.  I dreamed of having my own business some day.

Thanks to my father-in-law's estate, I HAVE my own business now.  But it's harder than I thought it would be to transition from working woman to business owner.  My concession trailer is a seasonal thing...I basically have the winter off.  That's a good thing, right?  Well, I was just about going crazy after the first month of being a woman of leisure.  It's HARD not to work after you've worked for thirty years.  It seems I need the structure of a job to make the rest of my life fall into place.  So, much as I wanted NOT to, I went back to the old part-time job at the Assisted Living Community.  I cook meals for old people twice a week.  It keeps me sane.

Global Warming?

So, tonight we're going to experience the first freeze of the season.  Wait a minute...wasn't it just last weekend that temperatures were in the seventies,and we were all saying how weird this weather was for the end of October in Oregon?  Now, they're talking about record lows in the next two days.  This is definitely NOT usual for this time of year...or for Oregon at all, for that matter.  We don't DO extreme temperature swings like this.  I begin to wonder if global climate change isn't a much more dangerous and immediate problem than we have all been wanting to admit.

I packed all the container plants I cared about into my little $200 portable greenhouse this evening when I got home from work.  (Work?  Oh, yeah, that's a story for another entry.)  I hope they're all safely bedded down for the winter, and that I'll have some success bringing them out of hibernation next spring. 

But there are the other plants--the annuals in the beds in front of the house, that I know are doomed.  I will go out tomorrow morning and they will be piles of green mush...massacred by the frost.  I thought of pulling them out of the beds today, before they died, but I couldn't.  I felt that they deserved to die in dignity with their "roots" on.  Outside with the dog this evening, I had the oddest feeling.  I could almost HEAR them dying.  I felt such sadness.  Not for the end of the summer or the coming of the cold weather, but for the plants themselves.  They have such a brief life, that is so much dictated by things beyond their control.  Yes... it's nature. It is The Order of Things.  But it's still sad. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

More fun with Pictures

Every Web Journal I've read has this same picture frenzy in it when the writer finally finds out how to put pictures in it.  This is my attempt to put a smaller picture in....since my last two were rather HUGE (beautfiul, but huge.)

This is one of member of "the Zoo" -- our cat family (of six.)  This is "Bebe" (pronounced bee-bee, like the gun.)  It's a known fact, at least in our house, that an animal never retains its original name.  The story of Bebe is this:  I wanted to name her "Tup-tim," (after a character in The King & I).  Husband decided on "Ming", which I never really liked, but it stuck...for awhile.  Until I got into the habit of coming home from work and calling out, "Where's my bebe?"  (baby talk for...um..."baby.")  And she started answering to it.  So she has no idea her name is "Ming," and we haven't called her that for years.  Makes it interesting when you take her to the vet..."What's the cat's name?"   Haven't been brave enough to tell any vet we call her "Bebe"...too hard to explain, and, well, you sort of had to be there...  The veterinary world will always know her as "Ming." 

Oh. boy, I can do big pictures

I had such picture envy for other people's journals.  Everybody seemed to know the secret of putting big, borderless pictures in their journals...except me.  Well, thanks to Mary (Alphawoman1) I now know the secret.  Look out, y'all!

The picture above is of my dog, Lucy, going off on her "it's-all-about-the-dog-at-the-beach" trip.  And that other character in the picture is...well, just some guy I met at the beach (heh-heh.)

When it comes to my dog, she is ALL about the beach.  Specifically, playing with the dog on the beach.  As soon as we hit the sand, she starts popping up and down, performing these spectacular head-high "sproings" from a standing start.  Don't know how she does it.  This is our signal to find a stick for the dog to chase on the beach.  Woe be to you if you do NOT find a stick.  Then, you needs must throw said stick, for the dog to chase and bring back to you, to throw again...ad infinitum.  I really don't know how long she would chase if you were willing to keep throwing.  Probably forever...haven't tested that theory yet.

And then there is the drama of the walk TO and FROM the beach.  The beach approach has dog with head up, tail wagging, straining forward on the leash.  LEAVING the beach, however, finds dog with head down, tail dragging, and being dragged herself behind the humans who are cruel enough to take her away form the beach.  Back in camp, she literally sulks for hours.  My dog, the drama queen.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Well, we just got back from a week at the Oregon Coast.  Couldn't have had better weather if we had ordered it in advance.   Every day warm, sunny, not too windy...and this is NOT usual for the Oregon coast in October.  In ANY month, really.  Someone was smiling on us...

We didn't do much.  Relaxed, shopped, walked on the beach with the dog, built campfires in the evenings, enjoyed the wildlife.  We went down to Bandon; haven't been there in almost six years.  Still a lot the same...things don't change too quickly anywhere in Oregon, as a general rule.  Some new shops in Old Town, but those come and go practically yearly, anyway.  Didn't buy too much CRAP.  I've been trying to cut down on my rampant consumerism disease.

We did have several good, deep conversations about our relationship and where it has been the last five years, where it should be heading.  Not easy to have these discussions  There's a certain amount of dredging up of old stuff--stuff we'd rather not talk about--that has to be done in order to clean it up and make a base for a new, spiffed up relationship.  We had to come to realize we're NOT where we'd like to be with each other...figure out how we got there, and how to get back where we want to be.  I wondered aloud how my family would react if they knew we spent difficult hours dealing with our marital problems.  One sister's husband is in jail for the next ten years. One has been married for 13 years to an obsessive compulsive verbal abuser.  And one sister is the caretaker in a twenty-year marriage to a middle aged beer-a-holic recently diagnosed with heart disease.   So... my sisters have never been a good sounding board for my relationship problems with my husband!  They think I have it easy...and, compared to them, I do. 

But we've been on a rocky road over the last five years, and we're just now starting to climb out of that pit to the promise of something better.  This past week at the coast put us well along a new, smoother road.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Little Women

With the husband out of town, I took the opportunity to engage in a little emotional indulgence.  I poured myself a glass of wine, cranked up the VCR, and sat down to watch "Little Women."  The 1995 version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon.

I CANNOT watch this movie without bawling.  In fact, I roll it out when I feel in need of a good, cleansing cry.  How warped is THAT?  Besides the fact that the actual story is sad, it tugs my heart in a very personal way.  I invariably connect it to my memories of Joyce, my  sister who died 8 years ago. 

Joyce was the oldest, I the youngest, of us five girls.  She was eight years older than I...a vast canyon when you're little.  She was more like my mother than my sister, used to read to us all the time.  Books like...Little Women. 

But as we grew up, those 8 years seemed to shrink. By the time I left her behind in Illinois to move to Oregon, Joyce and I had a close, yet strained relationship.  Trying to go from the big sister/little sister thing, to being real adult friends.  The distance proved to enhance our relationship.  I was determined to keep her close, and not let her think that we had all moved away and forgotten about her, as the rest of the sisters actually HAD.  She clung to me like a lifeline.  And then she got sick and died.

It looks strange to sum it up so succinctly.  So much to tell...so impossible to put into words.  She got deathly ill..I went home to Illinois to try to love her back to health.  She died, and her family fell apart.  I tried to scrape them all back together, but I failed.  For reasons unknown, they buried her out here, in the same cemetery in Eugene where my father was buried four years later.  So what I have  left of her is her sad, lonely grave, down the hill from Dad's.  I don't feel her there. Don't talk to her there.  But somehow, I know she'd want someone to go there once in awhile.  So I go.

And now and then, I sit down and watch "Little Women." 

Mom and Dad

For some reason, I maintain this fantasy that, growing up in the sixties, my family WAS "The Donna Reed" show.  And then somehow, as we grew up, all that fell apart and we became "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."  When I really LOOK back at it, I realize we were never perfect; much like other families of the time, that had young post-war couples raising large broods of baby-boom children.  They were EXPECTED to marry, EXPECTED to raise families.  Never mind that many of them weren't particularly suited to being parents. 

In your twenties, you spend a lot of emotional energy separating yourself from your family...trying your wings, as it were.  In your thirties, you start to realize how your parents' parenting formed large portions of your personality.  You start to blame them for your neuroses.  Understand how their failures became your own.  And resent them for it.

When you hit forty, and the old man and old lady are shrinking before your eyes, and you realize they won't be around forever, you start to forgive.  You come to the great epiphany that Mom and Dad didn't wake up every morning trying to think up ways to ruin your life.  Most often, they did the best they could with what they had.  And they made mistakes.  They are human, after all. 

I suppose if I had children, these realizations would have come to me sooner, and through experience rather than contemplation.  I have this sort of third party, standing back and observing point of view, as I see my contemporaries go through with their children what we went through with our parents, only from the other side of the generational fence.  And, really, I don't think I have what it would have taken to be a good parent.  If my children had rejected me, as they DO...I would have been hurt beyond endurance.  For this reason, I'm glad I HAD the choice not to become a parent.  Even though, when you reach this age childless, you start to wonder what you will be leaving behind when you go.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Had a huge fight with the husband the other day.  Won't go into the gorey details, but the main theme of it all was what we do with the other person's venting.  I had a really hard time after my Dad died, and my sisters and I were at each others' throats...and husband was the only person I had to lay it all on.  Long before I had talked it out enough to work through it, he made it clear that he didn't want to hear about it anymore.  Basically, he said that he was tired of hearing the same things over and over when there was no movement toward a resolution.

I was catastrophically hurt at the time.  And held on to that hurt for a long time, even to this day.  I'll never feel comfortable again telling him in depth how I feel about anything.  But I got to thinking, when we are venting our frustrations or hurts to someone else, how exactly DO we want the vented-upon party to react?  Do we want advice or counsel?  I don't think so.  Do we want someone to pat us on the back and say, "oh poor baby...?'  I don't think THAT is what I was looking for either.  I tried to really think about what reaction he could have had that would have made me happy.  And I couldn't come up with one.  So, is it really fair to hold a grudge about the whole episode?

No, it ISN'T fair to be mad at him because he was the instrument through which I learned one of life's tough lessons.  Which is:  You can't pile your emotional burdens on someone else.  In the end, we all have to deal with our stuff alone, and it creates more problems than it solves to try to get someone else involved, even if that person is your closest friend.  Maybe, when all is said and done, I have never really understood the concept of friendship.  Maybe that's why I have few friends.  Time after time, life proves to me that we come into this world alone, and we go out alone, and we are alone much of the time in between.  It's just the way it is...it's nobody's fault.  Or maybe it's mine.

Thursday, October 9, 2003


Oh, and I guess I have to retract my fears about the California election.  Ahnold DID get what amounted to 49% of the vote, I guess.  But when you think about it, how screwed up is THAT?


Did I mention that I drag myself to the pool three times a week to do water aerobics?  I'm thinner, sleeker, and I have more energy than I used to...and I STILL have to do the major spin job for myself on the subject of vigorous exercise every MWF am.  Once I get myself out of the house and in the pool, I'm fine.  I just do the workout and everything's cool.  But it's so HARD for me to get there, and it doesn't get any easier.

And then, you have to deal with the other swimmers.  The pool is a culture unto itself.  Most of the exercise classes are filled with women (and men) who are more intent on socializing than on actually working out.  Which is why I didn't join a class...I just take my own equipment and do my own thing during lap swim time. And I'm sure the other pool-goers think I'm anti-social  (I keep coming back to that, somehow) because I figure I'm there to exercise my body, not my mouth.  By now, most of the other children have learned that "hi" or "good morning" are about all they're going to get out of me, so they let me be. 

There ARE a couple of really spooky old men who hang out at the pool.  One guy in particular totally grosses me out...  He swims laps, down the pool freestyle, backstroke back up the pool.  The whole time he's swimming on his back, he's...what would you call it....hucking and spitting?  Hocking lugies?  Stroke, stroke, hchckkk, THOO!  Absolutely makes me want to hurl my Slimfast!  He'd better pray he never hits me with one, lest the full fury of an arthritic, hot-flashing pre-menopausal maniac rain down upon him.    

Aches and Pains

After spending half the day yesterday worrying that I was having atypical angina, I figured out what I did to screw my back up.  I (reluctantly) went to the pool, thinking I would just skip any exercises that made me hurt.  My workout actually served to loosen up my back, so obviously that wasn't the problem.  Then I took the dog for a walk and we went to the field to throw her ball...BINGO.  Dog-ball-throwing made exactly the same muscles hurt in exactly the same way.

So why do I write about such a stupid, trivial episode?  It all has to do with the title of this journal--coming to terms with middle age.  I realize that I'm not as active as I was twenty years ago, but I'm not exactly a total couch potato, either.  Why is it that the most innocent little bit of physical exertion, if it's something that is not normally in my pattern of exercise for a day, can reduce me to a cripple?  Throwing the ball for the dog, for God's sake?  This is one thing I really HATE about getting older...it basically hurts to move, but if you DON'T move, it hurts more.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but after awhile, it just wears you down.  Pile it on top of the lovely symptoms of menopause, and it's really no wonder so many women my age are so bitchy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Lousy Morning

God, I feel like crap this morning.  Woke up with a crick in my back just below my shoulder blade.  Makes it really pleasant to even move, much less think about going to the pool.  But go to the pool I will.

My life has become a showcase for how the differences between men and women can make a wife miserable.  Now, we've been married nearly 27 years, and I couldn't imagine my life without him...but sometimes I get fed up with this "men and women are just different" thing.  I've heard all the blather about how cultural, hormonal, and basic physiological differences make men and women see the world in vastly different ways.  And I even believe it.  But in pratice, you would think that two people who have spent 27 years in the same house could have made it to some common ground in between.

It's my misfortune that I have never had women friends, and I expect my husband to fill my need for human connection.  There was a time in our lives that I thought this was actually happening...unfortunately, lately he's given up even trying on that score. I'm wondering why, even while I'm reading articles on how we women just need to GET the differences between our husbands and ourselves.  Okay...then why can't he GET the differences between our views on sex?  It's pretty classic...I want the romance, the emotional connection, and he looks on sex as some kind of purgative calisthenics called for as soon as we hit the sheets at night.  No matter if we've been sitting in front of the tv for 3 hours and he's hardly said five words to me since he got home from work.  He doesn't understand why I can't turn desire on and off like a light-bulb.

The result of all this is, well, he's not getting everything he wants, and I'm not getting everything I want.  And maybe it's the hallmark of a good marriage--that we hang in there and keep trying.  We each know we'll get lucky once in awhile...

Sunday, October 5, 2003


I've been watching, horrified, the California gubernatorial fiasco. The rest of the country looks at California as the hub of all extremes of American life, a caricature. This episode is proving that opinion valid.  Perhaps the rest of the country can learn from this...some of the things that can go WRONG with the Democratic process in the hands of extremists with money.  Frightening that such a small minority of the electorate can wield enough clout to drag a sitting  governor of the opposing political party out of office, and set up the possibility of replacing him with a candidate of their own who will certainly not receive the nod of a majority of  voters.  If this can happen in California, how far is it from becoming a reality on a national scale? 

Oh, wait...it almost DID happen to Bill Clinton, didn't it? 

Thursday, October 2, 2003


I think I'm getting the hang of this not-working thing.  It occurred to me today that I should try being HAPPY that I don't have to work.  A hard thing to ask of someone who worked for a living for 25 years.  And hated all but about 5 or 6 of them...  I realized long ago, way back in my twenties, that I wasn't going to be happy working for anyone else.  When we first moved to Oregon, I wrote in my journal about my dreams of having my own business.  That was 19 years ago.  And it has finally happened (though not in the flambouyant and instantly successful way that I had always envisioned.)  Why can't I accept this and be happy?

My typical day lately is spent at least partly feeling worthless or guilty because I'm not working.  I know this is because I DID work for so many years, and much of my self-image was tied into my jobs...(considering my success rate at the jobs I've had, this explains why my self-image has been so dirt-poor most of the time.)  I look at this and I KNOW it's silly...my life is so much more than just what I do to earn money.  Why am I so invested in the work thing?  I'd say it's that good old pioneer Protestant work ethic, but I'm not Protestant.    But I'm older now, and I'd like to think wiser.  I should be able to make myself understand that I have worth outside the workaday arena. 

For years, I said to myself, "What would I do if I wasn't working?  I'd be bored to death being at home all the time!"  I look around the house now, and there are literally a million things I could be doing.  Between the house and the yard and my business, I'm really not hurting for things to keep me busy.  But as I told Donna the other day, after working for so many years, you get to where you don't know HOW to be at home.  Keeping a home can be--IS--a full-time job.  What I need to do is find out how to get the sense of accomplishment I crave, from creating a beautiful environment in which to live, rather than punching a clock for forty or more hours a week.  THAT is how I need to look at it--creating a healthy, nurturing environment for myself, my husband, and our little responsibilities--the animals.  I think I can do that... 



Okay, what gives?

Okay, so NOW what's going on?  Look at what happened to my last journal entry!  What's with all the plus signs?  It's obviously been coughed up in some gross state of underdevelopment.  It looks ghastly, like an aborted cyber-fetus or something.  Must've REALLY pissed off the technology gods!

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Do I need a job?

Well, I dutifully scanned the "Help Wanted" section of the local paper today.  Nothing in there that I would be interested in.  Can't think of anything I WOULD be interested in if it appeared.  I don't WANT a job.  That's why I started my own business.  It's my misfortune that the business I chose has a definite off-season.  It's not so much that we need the money, though it's always nice to have more.  But I KNOW I'm going to go stir crazy, and rather sooner than later.  Season has been over for a week and a half, and I'm already climbing the walls with boredom.  And isolation.

Gave some thought to going back to the old job, but I have to admit it doesn't have what I need.  What I need in a job right now is some social interaction...someone to talk to besides myself.  Working all alone for four hours every afternoon in a nursing home kitchen was NOT providing that for me.  In fact, the last several jobs I've had, over the last four years, have done nothing but add to my sense of isolation.  Makes me wonder if in fact I don't crave isolation more than companionship.  The places where I have had the most success have always been the ones where I spend most of my time alone.  In today's resume lingo, they call this being "self-directed."  I'm starting to think it should read "anti-social." 

But there has to be some middle ground, doesn't there?  So what if I'm not exactly a social butterfly?  Aren't there any places to work where I could really connect with maybe one or two other people?  If there are, I haven't found them. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


I think I actually heard coyotes howling tonight, sitting here in the office in the quiet, with no tv, fan, or music.  Kind of creepy...but we knew they were around.  They're part of the reason I don't decide to let the cats outside to roam.  Don't want one of them to come home dead some day.  A  kitty paid me a visit outside while I was going out to get the mail.  On the sly, I gave him a bowl of food just to help him out a little (Matt would be pissed if he knew I did this.)  Poor thing was all skin and bones...couldn't decide whether he was starved or sick, so I figured I could help him out if starving was the problem.  He didn't eat much, so I'm afraid he really was sick.  He was wearing a collar and ID tag...local phone number, so he must be from around here somewhere.  No excuse for an animal to be neglected like that.  Hope he doesn't end up coyote-lunch.

Browsing through other peoples' journals, I came across someone asking questions about God...reminded me of the confusion I have on that subject.  Used to believe...don't know what I believe anymore.  Find that organized religion seems to be a tool created by man, used to beat up other people.  Historically, people are driven to create ways in which they can make themselves superior to others.  And to create codes of behavior that criminalize the behavior of others.  If you don't believe what I believe, you are bad.  You are going to hell.  I have to kill you.  Whatever.  I'm sure that God looks down on all this and wonders if we'll ever get it.   

Well, the sun came out...

The "morning" clouds burned off at about 1:00 today.  Now it looks like a passably decent day.  I'm going back to "City Liquidators" to finish up my office shopping.  It's just about there...needs a couple more pieces to make it come together.  Needs lighting badly...bought an under-counter halogen light at WalMart yesterday, and it sucks.  Should have known better than to buy ANYTHING at WalMart.  WalMart sucks.

God, do I feel crappy today.  Menopause is no fun at all.  I'm not having hot flashes every fifteen minutes right now, but I can tell I'm revving up to start a period in a few days.  I'm so bloated I don't fit into any of my clothes, and I just feel like I'm walking around under water.  Slow and dull and stupid.  Hormones are nasty little things, put on this earth just to make us miserable, I'm convinced.  Along with vacuum cleaners, garden hoses, and other drivers.  Don't ask.  The house is starting to look like hell, the office is still only half-finished and all I have the energy to do is sit here and type on this damned computer.  Better go try to get something done.




Monday, September 29, 2003

Time to quit whining

Well, I guess I should quit complaining about the husband.  Don't want people to think he's  a jerk.  Actually, I think I'M the jerk. 

So, what are my politics, you ask?  Decidedly liberal democrat, I'm afraid.  Used to be a registered independent.  But the George W. Bush years have dashed the last of any conservatism I might have harbored right out of me.  Can't stand Bush.  Couldn't stand him from the moment he was elected.  Well, not elected, actually, but he became president one way or another.  Can not EVEN deal with a head of state that cannot pronounce the word "NUCLEAR."  He's got the button right there in front of him...maybe he should READ it,  "Now, just sound it out, Georgie...NOO--KLEE-UR."  Very good!

And, I'm sorry..9/11 did not make him any smarter!  Or any more qualified to be the leader of the free world.  Nor did it magically bestow upon him ANY knowledge of foreign policy.  He's a Republican through and through...knows EXACTLY how to use the fears of the common people to further his political agenda.  What he has done to this country in the name of "the war on terrorism" scares the hell out of me.  It doesn't surprise me that he's not doing all that well in the early polls against "any democrat."  ANY democrat has my vote! 

Fallout from yesterday

It suddenly became autumn in Oregon today.  Weather was cool and rainy all day...a stark contrast to yesterday, which was sunny and in the nineties.  Today's weather fit my mood...or maybe it created it.  Still feeling a little put out with the husband about yesterday.  When will I learn that he is not the person to go to with my feelings of loneliness and isolation?  Instead of being sympathetic, he reads that I am somehow criticising him for not being a good husband/friend/whatever.  And then I have to hear about how hard he works and how he's so wasted when he gets home at the end of the day.  Just so I know it's really unreasonable of me to want him to actually interact with me when he gets home.  He must have known I was upset, though...he emailed me from work today saying, "why don't we go on a picnic after work?"  I emailed back, "Uh, in case you haven't noticed, it's raining."  I SHOULD give him credit for the thought, but I'm not so inclined.  It seems so much a case of too little too late, as usual.
Office is coming together pretty well.  Got most of the business stuff categorized and put away today, will start on the craft stuff tomorrow.  Don't think I yet have enough room for it all.  And I though I had already thrown tons away.  Had to buy a shredder for all the old bills and stuff.  I'll probably spend half the day tomorrow shredding paper.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Doing stuff together

Well, as much as yesterday was a success, today wasn't.  Had to go down to Corvallis to check out a festival's possibilities for the business.  I thought we were having a good time.  Husband, apparently, didn't.  Disappeared the minute we got there, and spent most of the time wandering around by himself, calling me every ten minutes on the cel phone to try to figure out where I was.  When I asked him later what was up with that, he told me how he thought we were just going to check out the business aspects of this festival---NOT spend the afternoon strolling around the craft booths.  I asked him if he thought we were going to drive two hours to get down there, meet my sister, and then leave after a half hour.  So that started a fight. I told him I have no idea what he likes to do anymore...mostly it seems that sitting around watching tv for hours on end when he's not working is good enough for him.  He got mad at me about that, asking his usual "What do you want from me???" crap.  Well, I'm not sure exactly what I want, but I know I don't want to feel like I'm living alone.  I feel like all I do when he's home is try to stay out of his way and not make him feel like I'm bugging him to spend "quality" time with me.Which IS what I'd like, come to think of it.  But if he DOESN'T want to, what would really be the point?  Once again, I'm left to feel like I need to get a life.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Went out and spent $400 of "Cafe de la Rue" money on new (old) office furniture today.  Discovered a WONDERFUL place down in the SE industrial district across the river.  I could have spent days, and probably thousands of dollars, in the place.  TONS of used office furniture, and other stuff, at rock bottom prices.  I guess I'll never be a card-carrying yuppie.  I just love places like that.
I'm trying to start to take myself more seriously as a business owner.  I'm hoping that making the office functional will help.  The place always looks like the aftermath of a level five tornado, mostly because there aren't enough places to put everything.  Bought three big shelving units, a new desk, and an 8' long table.  Still need a file cabinet and another table for crafts.  But it's starting to look more like an office and less like a junk room.
Gave in and let Matt take me to the Polish Festival for lunch.  Real "back home" type food...though my family was Hungarian rather than Polish, there's a lot of similarity between all those Eastern European cultures.  Croatian pastries reminded me of the sweet tables at the Schleich weddings.  Went back three times for more goodies, at $2 per plate.  Loved seeing Matt's eyes light up, reveling in the Polish stuff that takes him back to his childhood.  Made me wish I could come up with some more things to do that he would enjoy as much.  He works too hard, and needs the recreation.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Hello, journal

So, this is my first "blog."  I wonder how this will affect my writing, knowing that someone might actually read it?  I've been writing journals since I was in high school.  Always with the secret hope that someone might read them, and get to know or care about my thoughts, confusions, and yearnings.  But knowing that no one would ever read them, at least not in my lifetime.  In more recent years, I've contented myself with believing that I might be leaving a legacy...that SOMEONE might read the pages upon pages of my life's blood, and think about me when I'm gone.

This wanting to be remembered when I'm gone...this is a relatively new purpose for me.  I guess it's logical for someone my age, who has no children, to start wondering about my legacy.  Not only no children, but no social life.  No church, no job, no volunteer activities.  I sometimes wonder, if I dropped dead today, who would care besides my husband and my sisters?  And how long would THEY even care?  What would I be leaving behind?  As of this exact moment, I have to admit--not a whole lot.

I know I didn't used to be this way.  I've always been sort of a loner, and socially challenged, but I always had at least one or two friends, and some kind of social outlet besides my family.  I've become so isolated since the events that surrounded my sister's and my Dad's deaths.  I don't know if I would still be so affected by their deaths, if they hadn't been the start of this...this time of my life when I've felt expelled from everything I've ever known and loved.  It's been a god-awful struggle just to keep ties with the people who ARE still in my life, and I know they don't understand or care about my struggles.  I spend an awful lot of time wishing I had someone who DID understand.