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 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'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 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 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.