Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Farewell to One of My Own

When I sat down to think about it today, I realized I didn’t know how old he was. Between my decaying brain cells and the sheer numbers of animals we have called family, the exact adoption dates have blurred and jumbled in my mind. He was seventeen. Born sometime in the spring of 1989.

In those days, we were the keepers of one very homesick niece who had moved halfway across the country to make a point to her parents…and came to live with us. In an effort to cheer her up, we got her a kitten. She and her uncle cleaned up this tiny, flea-infested scrap of fur…indeed, nearly killed him with an overdose of pesticides, trying to rid him of his cast of thousands. Then she considered the now soggy, slightly groggy mite, with an eye toward giving him a name. Upon hearing his tiny, high-pitched kitten squeak, she laughed. "I was going to call him Willie (after Willem Defoe, her then-favorite screen star), but he sounds more like Beaker (after Muppet character Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s language-challenged sidekick.)" So Beaker it was.

But even the little mostly-white-with-a-striped-tail-and-matching-nose-splotch kitty couldn’t entice the niece out of her funk. Before he reached his first birthday, his young mom packed up and moved back to the midwest (where she promptly got another cat, which she did name "Willie." Who, coincidentally, died just last month.) Beaker was left behind like a discarded toy. It was a less than amicable parting, and we had to fight with her to keep her from packing him off to the shelter (out of spite?) instead of leaving him in our care, in the only home he’d ever known, where he was perfectly welcome to stay. Eventually she relented, and left him with us to raise as one of our own. And so we did.

We had read all the books when we brought him home. And all the books said to put a pillow or a scrap of cloth in your new kitten’s bed to ease the loneliness he would feel being newly separated from Mom and littermates. So we put a gigantic red wool sock in his bed for him to snuggle. He nursed and nibbled on that old thing for months. Unfortunately, for the rest of his life, wool was Beaker’s "comfort food." We quickly learned to ascertain the fabric content of any upholstery or clothing material that might, unattended, find itself at the mercy of his oral fixation. He licked bald spots in wool rugs, gnawed wool fringe on pillows, and ate holes in my favorite wool jacket. He was like a giant furry moth with whiskers.

When Beaker was only a few months old, we acquired yet another member for our "pride"—a mink-tipped, blue-eyed little acrobat we named "Ming," but has been known for most of her life as "Bebe." From the moment she crossed the threshold, Beaker accepted her as his own personal kitten. The four older cats hissed at, spit at, or ignored the lowly youngsters. But they couldn’t have cared less. The two of them ate, played, and slept together, twenty-four/seven. Their favorite toy was a "Tinkerbelle": a little spot of light, either accidentally or purposely created, that inspires cats to fly off the ends of couches and skitter across glass end tables... I have archive footage of the two of them, rushing from one end of the living room to the other, up speakers, over television, across carpeting, chasing a flashlight beam.

And then there was "kitty fishing"—the toy which consisted of a pocket-sized fishing rod loaded with kitty bait, usually a feather or a catnip mouse, which you would cast across some large open space in the house—across the family room or down the hall. Then reel in any cat who happened to be in the vicinity. Beaker’s favorite lure was a giant jingle bell that had fallen off some ancient Christmas decoration. He would chase that bell until he was too tired to stand up. Eventually, that toy was lost in the bottom of a closet somewhere, but for years afterward, Beak would come running whenever he heard a bell jingle.

How the years have stacked up, one upon another, since those days. Beaker and his mates moved with us from that home to another, and another, and yet another. Hugged the woodstoves in dismal weather, stretched out in the rare sunspots on the winter carpet, sniffed at screen doors and raptly followed the ever-changing cast of Kitty TV in four different back yards. From the "pig tree" to the pines to the Dougs to the poplars. Chickadees and thrushes, finches and grosbeaks, hummers and squirrels, jays and siskins.

Upon the demise of our beloved Andrew—the last of our Illinois cats—Beaker stood to inherit the title of "alpha male" of our brood. He was fat, happy, middle-aged, and ready to rule the roost. But something went wrong. He suddenly dropped a bunch of weight, began to look hollow-eyed and scruffy. A trip to the vet told us he had developed diabetes. At the ripe old age of eleven, he began the two-shots-per-day insulin regimen that he would follow for the rest of his life. And so he became our "problem kitty." The diabetes gave him continence problems, an insatiable appetite and unquenchable thirst, and clouded his eyes with cataracts. Still, for five years, he lived quite comfortably in spite of his condition. Until a couple of months ago, when his appetite tailed off, his eyesight got noticeably worse, and he started having "spells" that were almost like seizures. The vet discovered gum disease and pulled two of his teeth, but warned us that there was probably something more sinister going on with him, since he was showing signs of kidney failure and was anemic. He was a sixteen-year-old cat who’d been an insulin-dependent diabetic for a third of his life. His systems were just starting to wear out.

Last week, it became obvious that old Mr. Beak was probably not going to last much longer. I laid him a bed of an old towel in his favorite spot—under the china cabinet in the dining room. From there, he still had a view of Kitty TV, was close to me as I prepared for my upcoming event, and the other cats could snuggle up to him and lick his head from time to time. He was just…winding down. Didn’t seem to be in any pain, really. I had it in my mind to let him go naturally, in familiar surroundings; spare him that traumatic last car trip to the vet.

But cats are so tough. They don’t let go of life easily. He lingered and lingered, dying by centimeters as the days passed. I had to leave for my job on Wednesday. I knew, one way or another, he wouldn’t be there when I got back. I crawled under the china cabinet, petted him and said goodbye. Told him to go ahead and join his brother Andrew, and grandpa (my dad), and that we knew he would be waiting for us on the other side of the bridge. Husband came home from work on Wednesday, saw how sick he was, and made the tough decision that I had been trying to avoid. He packed him in the cat carrier and took him out to the vet. Mr. Beak was too sick to object. And a few minutes later he died in his dad’s arms.

In the end, we broke down, pushed Nature aside and arranged the death of a beloved pet to fit our crowded schedules. I hate that life’s frantic busyness doesn’t allow us time to deal with the really important things. With all the other colliding agendae going on in our lives right now, neither of us had time to sit vigil beside a dying cat to ease him on his journey. But we didn’t want him to die alone.

I picture him today, sprawled on a wool rug, occasionally rousing himself to chase a gleaming fourteen-karat jingle bell cast by my dad’s expert hand…

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Since You're All Dying To Know...

Last night’s meeting at the bank took an hour and a half. After ninety minutes of stupid bullshit questions that mostly re-hashed things I had put in my presentation (I don’t think she read it…What a colossal waste of time!) we left without signing on any dotted line for any specific amount of money. Now, she says, she’ll have to "crunch the numbers" and will get back to us on Wednesday. Dammit! We got enough of a commitment out of her to at least believe this was going to happen eventually ("You guys looked real good for the last deal we tried to put together, and that was for more money…") But it certainly wasn’t the definite yes or no, here’s-how-much answer I was expecting to have by the end of the day.

We decided to proceed with the seller as if we had the money in hand. Called the seller’s agent to tell him we were ready to present an offer, we just wanted to know what the firm "cash price" was… And he basically blew us off. "Oh, we don’t write anything up right away. Just float us a number, I’ll present it to the seller, and he’ll either accept, reject, or counter." What? For god’s sake…I just want to buy this business. Can I please just buy this business????? Can you please just tell me how the hell much f’ing money he wants for it? We’re ready. We don’t have the time (or the patience) to play "Let’s Make a Deal."

So, last night I was up until midnight crafting a carefully worded email to the seller about how we think his asking price was fair, we just want to know what his "discount for cash is," and we thought everyone wanted to get this deal done as quickly as possible. Copied Mr. Seller’s Agent, and my husband’s work email (he was long asleep by the time I had finished the thing.)

Hop out of bed this morning hoping to see a reply. From somebody. Nothing. Damn. My guts are twisting into tighter and tighter knots about this. So I shoot off an email to the hubs asking if he read it and what did he think?

Three minutes later, the phone rings. It’s the hubs. "So?" I ask. "What did you think?" "I just got off the phone with (Mr. Seller.) He called me on my cel. I did the deal. Everything is agreed to."

"Wha-wha-WHAT? Hold the phone…WHAT?"

So there it is. Just like…getting hit in the face with a pie.

A very expensive, gourmet to the hilt, rich and yummy French Silk Cream Pie. Which, when the shock wears off, I intend to spend delicious hours licking up every single bit. In a year or two. When I might again have the time to attend to such things.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Ten Good Things Weekly---Number 10

While I’m sitting here on pins and needles waiting for my 4:30 appointment at the bank, I might as well try to assemble my "Ten Good Things Weekly" list for today. I can’t promise this is going to be great, funny, or witty writing… In fact, I can’t promise it will be at all legible or logical. I’m so pre-occupied with the bank business that it seems I can only apply a weak 12% of my attention to anything else. But, what the hell. Here goes:

  1. I took a couple of great power-walks, and did some upper-body weight work. I feel myself getting a little less creaky and flabby. This is a must if I don’t want to hurt my back again like I did last year, doing my teamster act at various venues. Imagine a 5’ 3", 120-pound teamster. Like I said, the better shape I am in, the less likely I am to end up squashed like a bug under a banquet table or a freezer.
  2. I accomplished the impossible, and managed to squeeze an equipment list and a P & L statement out of the guy who is selling this business we want to buy. He insisted he did not have time to deal with this information. I told him our "business consultants" advised us our "due diligence" included getting our hands on that information. Talked him into it, silver-tongued devil that I am. Though my husband and I did most of the work, at least Mr. Business owner brought his shopping bag full of invoices and receipts.
  3. Finished weeding, amending, and planting the flower beds and containers in the front yard. Up ‘til now, I’ve been focusing on the back yard, which is starting to look nice, but does nothing for the curb appeal of the property. Front yard is now catching up to back yard. If we end up having to have the house appraised to get money, at least the yard won’t have a negative influence on the property value…
  4. Made a wonderful salad for dinner the other night. When I make salads, I just kind of throw in everything but the kitchen sink. This time, it was pickled asparagus, garlic artichoke hearts, sliced bell pepper, sliced wine-soaked olives, crumbled feta cheese, chicken, baby corn (like you get in Chinese food), scallions, and I’m sure there was more I can’t remember, with baby greens, spinach and some iceberg lettuce for crunch. (I’m sorry—I like crunchy salad. And iceberg lettuce is really cheap these days, because it’s terribly unfashionable. I remember in its heyday, it used to cost almost two bucks a head. Now it can be had for 49 cents. I imagine it’s grown in South America or something, so I suppose it’s terribly un-PC of me to purchase it. Sigh!) Anyway, good salad!
  5. Finally settled on the menu for the event I’m doing next weekend in Yachats (better late than never….)
  6. Attended our local peace demonstration on Sunday afternoon! Held up a sign with a peace symbol on one side, and "honk for peace" on the other. I felt like I was eighteen again. Except that, today, my poor arthritic hands and shoulders ache from holding that sign aloft and waving at passing cars. No pain, no gain, I guess…
  7. Got the husband to ream the spider webs out of the works of our little propane fireplace on the back deck. And last night, we had a very pleasant evening by a cozy fire with a beverage in hand (Pinot Grigio for me, Pepsi for him…)
  8. We put up the canvas cover over our deck. Having that cover up drops the temperature in our family room (which has large, west-facing windows) by ten degrees. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as we put it up, it started raining. So now we start the ritual of having to go outside periodically with a broom handle and dump water out of the canvas. Oh well. It WILL stop raining sometime. It always does.
  9. I made friends with the neighbors’ cat, who has taken to sitting quietly under my backyard bird feeders, waiting for the birds to forget she’s there and get careless. I was not too happy when I found TWO dead birds in various places in the yard… And they didn’t die of bird flu. Now I just have to convince Ms. Cat to quit shopping for birdies in my back yard. I’m sure we can come to some equitable, non-violent agreement about it.
  10. Only 2 ½ more hours until the long-awaited bank meeting….

That’s it. I’m sure there are one or two sublime moments that have completely escaped me. But I really am in a state of mental paralysis. If I don’t write again for awhile, you can be assured that things are not going well in the "Lisa Buys A Business" drama….

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gratuitous Cat Photo

I've decided it's been way too long since I posted a kitten photo...


This is Alvin....

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What's So Scary About Da Vinci?

I just started reading The DaVinci Code. I needed to see for myself what all the hubbub was about. And I must admit, so far, I haven’t read anything that strikes me as particularly blasphemous or outlandish.

As a woman, it’s not much of a stretch for me to believe that there has been an historical conspiracy over the last two millennia to demonize and subjugate the “sacred feminine.” It would not surprise me that men had invested vast fortunes, mounted armies, and manufactured convoluted intrigues spanning centuries to absorb all human power unto themselves.

I am more fortunate…more free…than my mother. And she more than her mother. But it has been a long, slow, arduous climb for the female of the species. And those of us who have achieved, in some cultures, basic human rights, are constantly reminded that those rights have been graciously bestowed upon us by our generous brethren.

Apparently, the idea of a feminine balance critical to creation is such a dangerous heresy that the 21st century Roman Catholic Church, along with Evangelical Christians, Jews, Muslims—the world's dominant patriarchal religions—still feel compelled to threaten, condemn, deny, and call fire and brimstone down upon anyone who would dare theorize upon it as publicly as Brown’s book and Howard’s film have. It seems to me that very over-reaction to a work of fiction and its cinematic rendering, lends a suspicious credibility to the “blasphemous” theories they contain. Doesn’t it just make one wonder--what are they afraid of?

Men have done a bang-up job of running the world. Territorial squabbles, weapons of mass destruction, heedless pollution, genocide, homophobia…aren’t these all simply manifestations of rampant, uncontrolled testosterone? A couple thousand years ago, the men grabbed hold of creation and wrenched it dangerously out of balance. They’re driving the planet straight to hell, but they’re in the drivers’ seat, by God, and that’s what’s important.

Yes, The Da Vinci Code is just a book. And the movie is just a movie. Fiction. Entertainment. But obviously threatening to someone. Otherwise, why all the fuss?

Friday, May 19, 2006

And Now, We Wait....

I feel like I have just run a marathon. Today was THE day. The day to quit the hedging and second-guessing and put my money where my mouth is. Or, try to get someone to put money into my mouth. Or something.

This morning at 3 AM, I was stacking and patting down the last of the documents I had collected, copied, polished and printed for my presentation to the bank. To get the money. To buy the business. I had assembled, as best I could, snapshots of my life—old and new—that I hoped would tell the story of a competent, experienced restaurant manager on the threshold of realizing her lifelong dream of buying a place of her very own. It felt like walking down the runway in the bathing suit competition at a beauty pageant. Half-naked, exposed, wishing real life could be air-brushed…

I dragged myself out of bed at 8:30, attended to my chores, and rushed upstairs to get ready. It was so bizarre…superstition ruled my toilette. I hunted down my "lucky" shirt and built my dress-for-success outfit around it. I thought about lucky earrings, and realized I had one small pair left from the days of my late lamented dream job. They’re tarnished, bent and sticky with old hair-spray residue. But they had to be part of the ensemble. I even found, under my vanity, an old bottle of the cologne I used to wear back in those days. After a cursory test-sniff to determine whether it had gone off from age, I splashed that on as well. Liberally. Like holy water.

In the end, after all that trouble, I never even got to see the Loan Officer. She was busy with another client, so I just dropped off that folder full of my life’s blood at the front counter. She never saw my casual-yet-conservative power outfit, never glimpsed the sticky little onyx hearts that dangled from my ears, never got a whiff of Victoria’s Secret’s "Her Majesty’s Rose." It didn’t matter. All that mumbo jumbo had comforted me. It made me feel as if I had wrapped myself in a robe of positive ions. Old positive ions, but positive ions, nonetheless.

Arriving back home, I had a moment of panic that the ineffective-looking receptionist might not realize how hugely momentous was the information that I had entrusted into his hands. How direly it needed to be relayed to the all-powerful Loan Officer. I walked around the house,making coffee, scrounging up breakfast; but it was no good. I couldn’t get shed of that electric knife in my gut until I made the phone call. Called the Loan Officer, made sure she knew the packet—my life—was in her hands now. Casually, she laughed. "Oh, I haven’t seen it yet. They must have put it in my box." In your box? I wanted to scream. Go get it, woman! Have you no ken of how vital this is to the continued existence of the universe? But, no, that wouldn’t do. So I merely stuttered, "Well, I just wanted to make sure you knew I had dropped it off…"

I hung up the phone, and felt like all the air had just gone out of me. Like someone pulling the plug out of one of those big multi-colored punch balls we used to play with as kids. You’d pull out the cork, it would make that loud, flabby flatulence noise and go limp. And everybody would giggle.

Yep, all the spunk has just farted right out of me. Right now, I’m going to sit with my feet up and stare at…well, maybe nothing. Even television doesn’t sound appealing right now. I don’t want to think or worry or even move. For about an hour or so. And then I’ll blow some life back into myself, get up and go on to the next thing. Carrying around that little knot of apprehension in my stomach. Which is not likely to become untied until about 4:30 Monday afternoon. When I get to hear what fate the mighty Loan Officer has assigned my dream.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

AOL At Your Service...Or Not

Okay, guys...what gives with the hit counter?  At random intervals since the first of the year, my hit counter has zeroed out.  This last cycle, I had made it all the way up to over 600 hits before it bottomed out again.  I know you're reading, little AOL gremlins...is there something you could do to iron out this wrinkle in the fabric of my journal experience?  After all, you did manage to increase the amount I pay per month for this service that you give away free to AIM accounts... 

I'm sure it's a pipe-dream to imagine that the powers-that-be at AOL could ever dig up and return to me the actual hit count for "Coming to Terms..." which I would think would be well over twenty thousand by now...

Still, I would like newcomers to believe I've received more than 25 hits in almost three years...  How about it, AOL? 

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CBS Hearts Moms

I should know better than to watch anything on television that touts itself as a news program. This past weekend,it was CBS' "Sunday Morning" that curdled my non-dairy creamer. I'll assume Sunday's show was intended to be a Mothers' Day nod to American women. Charlie Osgood stepped aside in favor of veteran commentator Leslie Stahl. Happily, we were not regaled with 60's-esque segments on keeping your family happy, healthy, and well-fed, while remianing the petite size 4 that attracted the husband's lacivious eye at senior prom. Program directors are way too savvy for that, regardless of the political preferences evidenced by media ownership these days.

So what did the network deem of supreme interest to today's American woman? In one segment, a reporter displayed two different diamond engagement rings to interviewees and asked them to make certain judgments--about the man who gave the ring, the woman who accepted it, their relationship, and their social status --based on the relative sizes of the diamonds sported by each ring. Big rock--"He's got a good job." "He really loves her." "She's confident, knows what she wants." Little rock (less than 3 carats)--"Well, it's a nice promise ring" "He's trying, but not very hard." "She's a nice girl, not materialistic." Who knew that we were all wearing little crystal balls on our third finger, left hand? Oh..and the median cost of a diamond engagement ring in today's market is $4900 and change. Let's see...that would buy two dozen copies of my 1970's vintage bling.

And then there was the report on handbags, where we learned that a purse is not merely a purse, it's a status symbol. That the guts of your life--the fruit roll-ups, pampers, current novel, and the bic from the teller's counter at the bank--need to be enfolded in an artfully arranged assortment of fabric, leather, buckles, zippers, and handcuffs, preferably displaying a conspicuously evident designer logo, that cost roughly as much as my first new car. And that there are $12,000 handbags which women will endure the ignominy of being placed on a waiting list in order to possess.

I don't know...maybe we are not up for images ofwomen grieving at the gravesides of their young sons or daughters who returned from Iraq in flag-draped pine boxes, or mothers in Darfur lovingly cradling lethargic, emaciated, dying babies, at nine o'clock on a Sunday morning. But surely there is more to American women than this program--this disgusting celebration of shallow materialism and rampant consumerism--contrived to suggest.

I hope you had a happy Mothers' Day, America. And please, contact CBS News and let them know how much you appreciated their "gift."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ten Good Things Weekly--Week Nine

Was it only a couple of weeks ago I was whining that there was snow in the hills, the wind was biting, and it looked like the sun was never going to come out? Here is yet another example of our wonky weather: Today, I had to tote my laptop to a spot in the shade with a breeze, because the mercury is expected to shoot up to 97° . The rain lost its grip on the Pacific Northwest, blew across the country, and grabbed for New England before it could be blown out to sea in the Atlantic. And there it has dug in its heels and is causing all kinds of havoc. I feel your pain, my New England sisters!

My life is in a pattern of tense idleness. If only I could will this café deal into moving along at greater than a handicapped snail’s pace. The seller is busy constructing another building, and while he’s making noises indicating he wants this sale to go through as quickly as possible, he doesn’t have the time to collect the information we need to complete the sale. We’ve offered to help as much as we can, but we’re still at the mercy of his limited availability. I know in my heart that it’s all going to come to fruition at some point, but the waiting is frazzling my nerves and giving me an ulcer. Patience is not one of my virutes, as I’ve mentioned scores of times in the past…

Well, at least I have more time to put together my "Ten Good Things Weekly" list for this week. Let’s see how quickly this one will come together. In no particular order:

  1. I finished scanning pictures and cutting them out for my Mothers’ Day gift for my mom. There are "Cookie Lee" jewelry booths at some of the events we do, and I have discovered these great picture bracelets that my mom just goes ga-ga over. Cute, stretchy bracelets with little frames for half a dozen pictures all around. Perfect gifts for slightly addled little old ladies in Assisted Living apartments. For her birthday last October, I assembled one that had pictures of my dad and each of us five girls. The Mothers’ Day version was what I call the "dead animal bracelet"—the pictures are all of late, great pets. It went right on her wrist with the 96 other bracelets she wears every day. J
  2. Spent another $150 on plants when we were down in Eugene this weekend. I purposely put aside a large part of my plant budget to take south with me. All of my favorite nurseries are down there, and I still haven’t found too manygreat plant places up here in the northland, even after five years. So, every year around mid-May, I trundle back up from Eugene with a car load of plants. This year’s assemblage is even now sitting at my feet in nursery boxes, looking up at me expectantly…
  3. Managed to get our drip irrigation system up and running before we left town for the weekend. This is the system which allows me to be a successful absentee gardener. We were able to be away from the hose for 48 hours without doing any great damage to my tender, just planted gardens. They watered themselves while we were gone. Gotta love that.
  4. Two days after getting home from our last event in Astoria, I came down with a crummy, sniffly cold. I fully expected to be sick for weeks…colds usually hang on to me like ticks on a coon hound. Lo and behold, the cold was dried up and gone by last Wednesday, barely a week into its stay. Woo-hoo! I must be taking better care of myself than I thought…
  5. Property taxes 2005-2006 are now history. Paid the last of three installments this morning. Now I can wait at least a month before I start stressing out about next year’s tax bill..
  6. With temperatures soaring into the eighties, I was finally able to dig out the summer clothes. And all my favorite little shirts and shorts that I wore almost to death last year still fit me. I don’t look too terrible for a broad of my age. At least I don’t make people gag and cover their eyes when I walk down the street in shorts and a tank top…
  7. We went to the mall in Eugene just to go to the DMV and get some tags renewed. On our way out, we came upon a shoe store that was going out of business. I was able to score a really cute pair of Naturalizer pumps for $15. It’s always a good day when you get a great deal on a pair of cute shoes…
  8. At the family gathering yesterday, I entrusted my $400 digital camera to my niece (14) and my sister’s grandson (7.) Not only did they not break the camera, but with minimal tutelage from me, they came back with some pretty awesome shots. Especially the 7-year-old. At his age, I was rarely allowed to lay a finger on a camera, and when I did, the resultant pictures were usually of headless figures with feet perfectly centered in the frame, or three quarters of a frame full of open sky, with disembodied heads lined up along the bottom of the photo. This boy ran around the yard taking shots of everything from pets to flowers to the other party-goers to garden art. We called him our budding Ansel Adams…
  9. Speaking of my 14-year-old niece, I got to spend some time last night just fooling around and having a good time with her. She’s a neat kid, despite some of the crappy things she’s had to go through in her life. I think she’s going to turn out to be a worthwhile human being.
  10. I shared with my husband how much I want this café deal to go through. I read him my journal entry of 5/12, as a matter of fact. He kind of sat there with his eyebrows raised. He had no idea how strongly I felt about it, and this was the only way I could think of to let him know. He called me "driven." Our family tends to the stoic side on matters of real importance. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism…if you let yourself get passionate about something, and then it doesn’t happen, it hurts that much more. But I truly feel there are times when you just have to allow your passion to burn, if you want something to happen. If you want anything to happen. I honestly wonder where we would be and what we would be doing, as a couple, if it was not for me breaking out of the mold and allowing myself to be "driven" from time to time. I think the only reason he wouldn’t still be working at the K-Mart where he was working when we met, is because they closed the store and tore it down about ten years ago. We haven’t accomplished an overlarge list of great things in our married life, but everything we have, every new place we have gone, is because I dragged us there. With mixed results, I’ll be the first to admit. It’s to be hoped that this latest venture will fall down on the "good" side of the results meter…

I want to thank everyone for your encouragement and positive energy beamed in my direction. It has really helped to know that there are people out there pulling for me. Just keep your fingers crossed for a few more weeks, and I’ll be able to invite everyone to my place for a latte or a glass of Oregon wine…

Friday, May 12, 2006

Opposites Attract

red coil

steady glow

welcome reliable

burning warming

he is electricity



surging dying

too hot one minute

winking cool the next

she is fire


to him

she is wild

to her

he is constant



never quite comprehending

but forever


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Looking Behind to See Ahead

Eleven years ago, the world I knew came to an end. In 1995, I might have been gearing up for my fortieth birthday, and all the changes, real or imaginary, that would take place in my life when I exited my thirties—the last decade during which I could be credibly called a "young" anything. Looking back, I sincerely wish that were all I had to worry about. Because my fortieth birthday in July of that year faded into the background of upheaval and grief that was the final desperate illness and death of my big sister. And my misguided notion that I needed to sink every ounce of strength I possessed into comforting and binding the wounds of her bereft family.

Another thing that got buried under that load of sorrow was the demise of my "dream job." After spending fifteen years bouncing around like a pinball on the game board of my chosen profession, in 1986 I fell, quite by accident, into the best job situation I had ever encountered. Possibly the best anyone could hope for. In the next eight years, I accomplished more than I ever thought I could, grew more and in more directions than I had ever thought possible, mentored and guided and taught, spoke my mind and worked my butt off. But I was good at what I did, I was successful at what I did, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was fulfilling some kind of real purpose. I never realized how much employment success affected every aspect of life. I was happy at work, happy at home, outgoing and magnanimous and on top of the world.

Then the roof caved in. As it often does in the restaurant industry. Times change, fads fade, concepts come and go. When the corporation I worked for started to fall apart, the first guys to take the hit were we managers who had carried it to the top by the sweat of our brows and had been able, for a couple of years, to enjoy the fruits of our labors. All at once, we became an overpaid liability and were targeted for "redundancy," as the Brits so aptly put it. But it was not a quick and merciful severance. It was a traumatic, year-long pummeling process that felt like being beaten to death with a tack hammer. By the end of 1994, I was unemployed, exhausted, and emotionally trashed. And for a little extra added excitement, I was scheduled for major surgery.

I was still recovering from my own health disaster when my sister began her abrupt slide toward death in the early days of 1995. It could be argued that my sister’s illness "saved" me from going down into the pit of depression my own pack of troubles had been pushing me toward. I needed to rouse myself, stiffen my spine and "be there" for her and her family. That mission, that determination to be strong for someone else, actually kept me going for several years. I put my own trauma on the back burner, stepped up for the people who "needed me," and never looked back.

But my relationship to the working world never recovered. Still wounded and shell-shocked from the demise of my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I could never quite muster the confidence or the courage to get back on the horse and just…ride. I’d scramble up, but I’d jump off at the first sign of a rocky road. I changed horses so many times over the next several years that it got to the point where they would lock up the stables when they saw me coming. Eventually, the other half of my life began to fall apart, the part where I was supposed to be this rock of support for my sister’s husband and kids. Then, in 1999, my dad passed away, and my remaining sisters and I went through the tortures of the damned trying to deal with that loss.

As my relationship to my family took a nosedive, I realized that in the course of less than five years, I had lost virtually everything I believed I’d gained during that halcyon time when I felt like Queen of the World. I thought I had "arrived," but the place I’d arrived to had crumbled and faded before my very eyes. I was living the darker reality of the old cliché, "Life is a journey, not a destination." I tried to run away from my troubles with my family by running full-tilt back into the world of work. It was then that I found that I had no "world of work" to return to. I was pushing fifty, my resume was crap, and the doors of opportunity in the restaurant world, that I had always slipped through in the past, were only open to younger, happier people who weren’t afraid of their own shadows. Restaurant work is not for the faint of heart.

I tried office work for awhile, attracted by the nine-to-fiveness of it all, but found I absolutely hated it—from the enforced physical stagnation, to the back-stabbing, credit-grabbing, passive aggressive nature of office politics. The more I tried to put my restaurant past behind me, the more it rose up before me as the luminous icon of the only thing I had ever put my hand to that made me happy.

So in 2002 I started my own business. Something I probably should have done a decade or two earlier. But the time was never right, the money was never available. Once again, death changed my life. This time, it was the deaths of my husband’s parents…which provided us with the few extra dollars that made it possible to scrape together my concession business. Scared to death, but with no other real options open, I sallied forth into the world of the small business owner. It’s been a frustrating, enlightening, back-breaking four years. I’ve been able to pick up and dust off some of the scraps of myself that I had thought were irretrievably lost. It’s been a proving ground for me…showing me that I still can do this and I’m still damned good at it.

But the seasonal nature of the business has been at once a godsend and a handicap. Where it’s allowed me to creep forward at the snail’s pace that seems to be all that I can handle, it has also allowed me to be picky and half-assed about the challenges I want to take on. I can back away when I become intimidated by what the next move forward might mean, hit the brakes when I get frightened of putting my heart into yet another doomed effort. I love my little business, but I’ve come to realize that my complete healing lies in the direction of something much larger, much more engaging, and much more challenging.

And there it is, creeping up over the horizon like a late-autumn sunrise. A real restaurant. A roof over my head, a floor under my feet, a full-sized three-compartment sink in the kitchen. A place to go every day, to scheme, to strive, to formulate and refine. Every day. It’s been years since I’ve allowed myself to want anything this much. I want it so bad it hurts. But it’s a good pain…a pain of promise. Not unlike labor pains, I would imagine. This may be the closest I’ll ever come to the privilege of that pain. The pain of wrestling something new and vital into the world.

A snarky whisper in the back of my head mocks me about this. It taunts that what I am actually doing is preparing to lay out what amounts to three years of my dream job’s wages to…buy myself a job. That over the years, I have so trashed myself that I am not fit to be employed by anyone else. That little voice had me going there, for a minute. But I managed to put a sack over its head and conk it with a sledge hammer. Now I’m on my way to drown it in the creek. Because no stinking negative little demon is going to rob me of this opportunity, or tarnish the promise and anticipation. And I refuse to entertain fears that I’m too old, or too rusty, or too timid, or too anything to make this happen. This is my time, for the first time in a long time. And I am going to rise.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why I Hate Dentists (Today, Anyway...)

I went through a hideous month of dental crises earlier this year, where I had first one side of my face and then the other blow up like a balloon and threaten to explode with infection and pain (TMI, I know…) An extraction and a root canal later, I am mostly recovered from that trauma, and able to eat more comfortably than I have been in ages, since I can now chew reasonably well on both sides of my mouth (this was prevented for many years by a gigantic crater in a bottom molar.)

Of course, once you go in for emergency dental work, the dentist has to take stock of everything that is amiss with your mouth (which is plenty, in my case, since I hadn’t seen a dentist in an embarrassingly long time), and makes a series of appointments to start heading off all those various emergencies-waiting-to-happen.

This morning, I reported for my first post-root canal appointment, the one where we moved on to the next tooth on the agenda. "We" decided "we" needed to start a root canal on one of my front teeth. And right now, "we" are not too happy. I was on top of the world, not a twinge of pain to be found in my entire mouth—almost a miracle for me—when I got in the car this morning. And now, NOW as my upper lip and nose recover from the massive novocaine bolus, I’m sneezing, my nose is streaming, my lips feel like they are not connected to my face, and the spot where he drove in the anaesthetic into my face hurts like hell. Is there such a thing as a black nose (kind of like a black eye, only lower and more centrally located….)? Because that’s what I feel like I have.

This is a new twist on my dental experience. Instead of crawling into the dentist’s office in dire pain, begging for relief, I crawl out of the office in that condition. Not exactly how I wanted to spend the day…

Monday, May 8, 2006

Ten Good Things Weekly--ON TIME for Week Eight

Time again for the Ten Good Things list from the most recently past seven days of my life. I feel like I just did one of these…

With the weather brightening and things chugging along in the business-buying category, I think this week’s list shouldn’t consume my entire morning. I had intended to get outside straightaway this morning and dig back in to my yard work, but a bank of clouds blew in and decided to dump rain on that idea. So as long as I have to wait for the sun to reappear, I have time to dash off this list. Here goes:

  1. Drove up to Tacoma to attend the Northwest Restaurant Show. Gotta admit, it wasn’t much, but at least it was free. I got a kick out of wearing the ID card around my neck, and having people ask me if I "made the buying decisions." Made me feel like a real, grown-up business owner for the first time.
  2. Decided it was finally safe to start thinking about wearing sandals (safe, as in, I won’t get frostbite if I do…) so I stripped off the chipped remains of my Valentine’s toenail polish and gave myself a pedicure. For some reason, this is something I usually do in the middle of the night, after I’ve had a few glasses of wine. Maybe I need the wine to lubricate the joints enough for me to be able to reach my toes…
  3. I personally got out of my truck and poured myself a tank full of Bio-diesel. This is significant, because in Oregon, it is against the law to pour your own gas. However, since Bio-diesel is not gas, I guess they figure the average idiot can access it without immolating himself and everyone else (don’t ask me why only Oregonians are too stupid to pour their own gas.) Anyway, it gave me a such a feeling of satisfaction, both the "I did it myself" factor, and the knowledge that my ninety bucks (Ouch!) was not going to line the pockets of Bush, Cheney, et al.
  4. I found the bumper stickers that I got for Christmas, and applied two of them to Great White. My ridiculously huge, noisy, fuel-guzzling conveyance now proudly sports a "Powered by Bio-Diesel" sticker, along with a Mahatma Ghandi quote, and my version of "Support the Troops." Lest anyone think I’m just another red-neck cowgirl driving a big-ass truck strictly for the effect...
  5. Our purchase of the "Old Town Café" took several steps closer to becoming a reality. I hope you are all still keeping your fingers crossed for me…
  6. Went out on a plant-buying tour on Thursday. Set myself a $100 budget for the day. I burned a quarter of a tank of gas (um, I mean, french-fry oil…) but I got home with a decent haul, and only exceeded my budget by ten bucks.
  7. On that aforementioned buying tour, I made a list, and I actually stuck to it. When I go plant shopping, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Anything new or cool or "pret-ty" jumps right into my cart. Unfortunately, I can’t do that anymore, because there is very little that will grow in my yard. But it’s been hard to kick the habit. Which has resulted in a greenhouse full of plants that never make it into the ground, and just languish and die in their little nursery containers. This time, I bought only things I know will survive, and they’re going to be planted…as soon as it stops raining L !
  8. We went out for Easter Brunch yesterday. We’d had reservations for the actual day at Salty’s, a Portland restaurant with a killer brunch buffet. But husband managed to come down with a pukey stomach virus on Easter, so that took care of that. Missed the following weekend, as husband spaced making the reservations, and last weekend we were out of town at an event. So, yesterday was our Easter. The weather was almost as crappy as the real Easter was this year. But the food was good, the view was wonderful, and the champagne was bottomless. J
  9. Husband finished his favorite landscaping chore: Weed burning. This is quite the undertaking. First, you have to run around the property with the "Round-up" and spray the weeds. Then you wait a week, or two, or three, until they are all dead and look like hell, and it has stopped raining long enough for everything to be crispy and tinder-dry. Then you haul out your huge torch-thing connected to its five-gallon propane tank, wheel it around the property, and char the living shit out of what is left of those weeds; and, occasionally, the fence, and the shrubs, and the lawn, and the bark mulch. Always keeping a live garden hose at the ready… I tend to hide in the house while he’s at it; but the place does look much nicer once he’s finished.
  10. I lost two pounds! Two weeks ago, for the first time in two years, I weighed inat more than two pounds over my lifetime goal at Weight Watchers. Bummer! So, I had to break out the points counter and the journal sheets and go back on the program. At this rate, I shall be sitting pretty by my next weigh-in in a couple of weeks. And fitting a little more comfortably into my "skinny" pants…

Voila! It still took me over an hour to come up with this stuff. But here it is. And the time spent on this is certainly not wasted. It’s never a negative to take time to focus on the positive. It puts me in a great frame of mind—at least for awhile—to face the new week.

Have a good one, all!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

May Madness

Gardening in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest is a challenge. Actually, I don’t know whether my soil problems are local, or simply peculiar to my property. I couldn’t say what kind of soil naturally occurs in this area, because my house is built on layer upon layer of what they call "fill." Apparently, our lot is situated in a low spot in the development, and the builders contrived to solve "drainage problems" (which means we are living on what was once largely a swamp) by dumping truckloads of whatever was handy and then running a cat(erpillar—BIG-ass tank-like monster) over and over it until it was tamped down harder than the most impervious concrete.

Most developers will then condescend to throw topsoil over the mess so that the homeowners can at least grow a lawn. It’s possible that whoever built our home made some token gesture in that direction…but not nearly enough. To be healthy, grass roots need to be able to go down at least a foot. The two or three inches of barely arable soil sprinkled atop our "fill" make it a challenge to even grow decent-looking grass, much less anything else. Planting anything with a root system deeper that two inches entails employing a tool that I never envisioned would be an essential part of my garden arsenal—a pick-axe. The first time we planted a tree, it took us four hours to carve out a hole to put it in.

The best thing for this property would have been to dump three or four feet of topsoil over the whole thing and start over. If only such remedies came cheap! There was no way we could afford to do that when we first moved in. In fact, there’s no way we could afford to do it now, five years later. So I’ve spent the last five years scratching up the top few inches of this intractable crap we’re living on, mixing in as much compost as I can afford, and taking my chances

I want an awesome garden, but I don’t want to make a career out of creating or maintaining it. Up until now, we’ve been lucky enough to own properties where you could just plop things in the ground and watch them grow. Not so with the moon-soil on this lot. I’ve watched perennials, bushes, trees, even annuals wither and expire within weeks of touching their toes to this toxic, rocklike mess. And even the plants that eventually do make it languish on the edge of death for at least a year before they finally take hold. Since I am anything but a patient gardener, this waiting game/death dance drives me crazy. At least, in the five years I’ve been fighting this battle, I have discovered a few plant species that, in spite of all the odds stacked against them, will thrive in my gardens. At least now I know what I can plug into an empty spot and expect to grow.

The last few years, May has been my month for intensive garden work. With a business that eats up most of my summer weekends, whatever yard fixing needs to be done, had better be done in May, or it will have to keep until November. Or next May. So yesterday, under gray skies that occasionally spit a few drops of rain on my efforts, I literally dug in to my languishing shrub border. This one has been a challenge. Besides the crap-shoot of getting anything to grow, I have not had much success designing this bed. It has looked flat, hodge-podgy and scraggly from day one. I’ve re-arranged, uprooted, re-planted, and fussed, and nothing seems to make it look any better.

Part of the problem has been my soft-hearted reticence to pull the plug on any plant until it is completely, utterly, and irretrievably dead. No matter how stunted, misshapen or obviously not thriving a plant is, if it is brave enough to send out a green shoot or two in the spring, I let it be. This has resulted in four rosebushes planted by the previous owners taking up valuable space front and center of my shrub border. I warned these bushes when we moved in that they would be allowed to stay only if they could tolerate the same treatment as any other plant in my world: a month of fussing, followed by eleven months of benign neglect. Up until this spring, they have bravely soldiered on, sending out flowers beautiful enough to compensate for the rest of their increasingly shabby-looking selves. But when I went out to inspect them yesterday, it was obvious that our month of below-freezing weather this past winter had finally pushed them past the point of no return. Still, it broke my heart to cut them down and dig them out, the last few puny buds they’d been able to squeeze out trembling at the ends of the black-spotted stems.

So, yesterday I dug out three of those rose bushes, dug up and replanted two buddleias (butterfly bushes), hacked holes in the ground to sink a couple of new escallonias, planted some daylilies that I dug up from the front yard two years ago and have been living in shallow pots ever since, and battled my bucking Mantis tiller as I tried vainly to break up the soil and mix in enough compost to give the poor plants a fighting chance. I didn’t realize how hard I had worked until I tried to get out of bed this morning. I felt like I had been tied by my ankles and dragged behind a truck for a few hundred yards. Not to mention the sinus issues caused by the clouds of yellow pollen that poufed out of my little mugo pines every time I rubbed against them. Ah-choo!

I was all ready to shoulder the shovel and sally forth again this morning. But the skies were gray, and it has been pouring rain on and off all day. I guess the Powers That Be took stock of my age, condition, and the job ahead of me, and decided I needed a day to recuperate. There are 24 days left in the month, so there’s no big rush. Tomorrow is soon enough to take another crack at it.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

My Life's Music

I was nine at the start of the British Invasion. But I was also the youngest of five sisters, and wherever they went, I followed, as fast as my skinny little legs would carry me. Sister D was fourteen—a high school freshman—in 1964. The perfect age for a Beatlemaniac. And so she was, and dragged the rest of us right along with her. When a Beatles song would come on the radio, we would let out ear-piercing screeches and scramble into the living room to the vintage console stereo that we had got second-hand from some old aunt. The kind that looked like a piece of furniture. The record player, not the aunt. Four girls, ages nine through fourteen, ears glued to the booming tweed-covered speaker, leaving half-eaten plates of food cooling on the dinner table, to my dad’s immense annoyance.

We sang all the songs. Knew every word, all the harmonies. Sang while we cleaned up the dishes after dinner, or in the car on those six-hour station-wagon odysseys to campgrounds in the North Woods. The Beatles, of course—When I was younger so much younger than today… But there were others: Chad & Jeremy--…but that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone… Peter & Gordon—Woman, do you love me… Herman’s Hermits –Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter… Every Simon and Garfunkel song ever recorded. I handled the Garfunkel harmonies. At the ripe old age of ten. Hello darkness, my old friend

You were either a Beatles fan, or a Stones fan. Never both. I remember seeing the Stones on Ed Sullivan…the same place we had seen the Beatles for the first time. We had swooned over the Fab Four…and complained that the Stones were "ugly." Even in their sterilized, censored Sunday night American TV personas, the Stones were too high test for our vanilla suburban souls. To this day, I’ve never been able to warm up to Mick Jagger… And then along came the Monkees, spurned by the older, more refined fans, who were by now…seventeen. But, hell. I was twelve. I went for them ass over teakettle. Take the last train to Clarksville, and I’ll meet you at the station…  When I think of the old music, that's what comes tomind. My brain shorts out when I realize exactly how old it is.

Then there were the seventies…the longest decade of my life. From high school and graduation’s emancipation to marriage and a mortgage in ten jam-packed years. Rocky Mountain High to Saturday Night Fever. John Denver ‘round the family campfire to BeeGees disco lessons with the handsome young husband.

After that, my musical history smears to a blur. We threw over mainstream music for Christian Rock for half of the eighties. Though Heart of Glass and Sweet Dreams are Made of This penetrated sinfully past the halo. The Cars and the B52’s, Devo and Ten Thousand Maniacs dented my consciousness. And after that…I seem to have fallen off the face of the earth.

These days, my "new music" is a collection of New Age, Celtic and Acoustic CD’s. Which, I now realize, I started collecting in the early nineties. I wish I could say my musical tastes have become eclectic and refined. But I know the truth. I have finally gone down into the tarpit of old farthood. And I wonder how I look… On second thought, I don’t wonder; I know how I lookto twenty-first century fourteen-year-olds (I cannot possibly be old enough to be their grandmother.) Rolling my cart down the grocery store aisle singing out loud with the muzak tape--And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls, there walks a lady we all know….

Friday, May 5, 2006

...But Not My Way

People seemed to view my last post as sad. As if I was giving up on something important. Honestly, that’s not what I was feeling when I wrote it. Mostly, I was feeling anger at what religion has wrought in our world, both now and in the past. So much strife in the Middle East, in Africa, in the Baltics, even here on our own shores can be attributed directly to clashes between faiths. What’s the point? Why do we feel we have to beat each other to death with our personal perceptions of God? Why is it SO important, above all, to belong to the group that has all the answers?

I’ve not completely thrown over the concept of spirituality. I’ve simply come to the conclusion that organized religion, for the most part, has it all wrong. There is a Creator, and we human beings are tied to It, as all creation is. Most major religions assign man dominion over the rest of creation. Perhaps that is their primary mistake. Perhaps if we realized that we are simply a part of the whole, no better nor worse than any other product of the Creator’s hand, we could understand and fulfill our purpose here, rather than constantly being the force of destruction, conflict, and death.

Religion was created, I think, as a tool to identify and refine our relationship to the Creator. But, like any tool in the hands of man, it can be, and has been, used for great good or monstrous evil. And we have a tendency to lean too heavily toward the evil… Our own lust for power—over anything, over everything—drags us down. Why can we not leave the power in the hands of the Creator where it belongs?

My dear friend Jackie, who has lately embarked upon an amazing spiritual journey of her own,  wrote this prayer for me. It is such a beautiful gift. It touched my heart in a deep and special way. Thank you, my friend!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

"Losing My Religion..."

My personal religious history has led me to a state of profound agnosticism. Raised Catholic, “born again” as a twenty-something; baptized in The Church as an infant and in an elder’s swimming pool as a consenting adult, I have been steeped in both the dogma and the charisma. But, battered and beaten by years and tears, the core concepts of religion became harder and harder for me to swallow without question. Eventually, I arrived at a place where I was so deep into unbelief that nothing short of an intimate chat with a burning bush was likely to penetrate my skepticism.

Milestone birthdays have a way of causing sudden, urgent reevaluation of one’s past, present, and future. Turning fifty touched off an odd chain reaction in what is left of my mind; I suddenly realized that mortality was all too certain and (relatively) imminent. I felt an urgent need to explore the concepts of spirituality and the afterlife, if only to keep myself from becoming paralyzed by the fear of death. Also, I’d been suffering from a feeling of real isolation in my life; I envisioned that becoming part of a community of believers would be a side benefit of my search. I believed I craved that “human connection.”

My spiritual odyssey came to an abrupt end when I realized that the timing—not just my personal timing, but the universal timing—for such a quest was all wrong. Human connection? What was I thinking? What connections do today’s organized religions offer us? War? Murder? Ostracism? Ritualized bigotry? Hatred? Turn on the television or radio. Read the news. From every window on the world, violence and hatred in the name of some group’s perception of God devastates the landscape.

Christians hating Muslims. Muslims killing Jews. Sunni despising Shi’ite. Evangelicals bashing Catholics. Fundamentalists straining to drag us all back into the Dark Ages. It’s painfully obvious that the path to peace, progress and harmony does not lie in the direction of organized religion. It’s entirely possible that the continued existence of the human race might depend upon us eschewing religion altogether.

Yet, old habits do die hard. For years, even as my agnosticism grew, it was important to me that the Christ I had been spoon-fed from birth retain some aspect of deity. I held to the conviction that for Jesus Christ—or any prophetic figure of any faith—to have been remembered, much less venerated for so many centuries, there must have been something, some mystic connection to the Creator that gave his story such amazing staying power. But even that rationalization has been given the lie by the bizarre happenings here in our own country over the last five years.

We have witnessed first-hand the power of groupthink and political pressure, and the ability of talented individuals with hidden agendas to manipulate the emotions of entire populations of frightened or disillusioned people. We have seen for ourselves what happens when a party gathers unto itself enough power to literally turn its every whim into the law of the land. We’ve seen them turn lies into truths which people will embrace to the point of martyrdom.

The antics of our current national leadership have given us a glimpse into a degree of domination and corruption we never thought to witness in this society which touts itself as the beacon of freedom and enlightenment to an errant world. But, beyond that, they have made me completely re-evaluate the phenomena of historically prominent spiritual figures. Like Jesus Christ. Or Moses. Or Mohammed. Or Baha’ullah, or the Angel Moroni, or Jim Jones. The right political climate could make any society desperate for a savior. Or make a prophet out of almost anyone. Even George W. Bush. Just ask him.

How sad that the human race is on a course to destroy itself with the very code it created to keep from destroying itself. Religion is ever the double-edged sword. Perhaps the edge that refined and controlled human behavior has been wielded to the point of permanent bluntness. And now we hold the other side of the blade to our own throats.

Ten Good Things Weekly--Week Seven

I’m afraid this one is going to be a challenge. (I say that every time, don’t I?) Be that as it may…being the curmudgeonly sort that I am, I have enough trouble dredging up my list when I’m feeling on top of the world. Today, I feel like crap and I’m just coming off a not-overly-successful event last weekend. A two thousand pound pack of responsibilities and "to-do’s" is hanging by a thread about an inch above my head, and all I want to do is take another hit of Benadryl, crawl back under the covers and sleep it off. Let me blow my nose, shake the cold-drug-induced cobwebs out, and see what I can come up with…

  1. Preparation for the previously mentioned event went so smoothly it was almost scary. We had everything in the trailer and buttoned up by 7:00 pm Wednesday. I remarked to the husband as we dusted off our hands and walked into the house for dinner that we must have done something terribly wrong, as we were all finished and it wasn’t dark, freezing, or raining.
  2. We were greeted with perfect weather when we arrived in Astoria to set up for the event. Sunny, warm, breezy…not at all typical for the Oregon Coast in spring. Or any other time, for that matter.
  3. It looks like this most of this list will spring from our weekend event… That makes sense, since that was my focus for most of the week. Anyway, thing number three was our Thursday night dinner at Café Uniontown, under the bridge in Astoria, watching the ships come and go out of the harbor.
  4. We may have dodged the $3000 truck repair bullet we had been expecting. After the much less traumatic $400 repair last month, "Great White" seems to be performing admirably, at least as far as the fuel injection is concerned. Big sigh of relief on that one…
  5. Spotted bald eagles several times in the skies around Astoria, including the one soaring over the distant treetops as we walked back to the trailer Saturday evening. (reading over this, I wondered if we had discovered a new species--spotted bald eagles...?)
  6. It is our custom to take whatever sandwiches we have left at closing and hand them out to other vendors. Rather than throw away perfectly good food (that we cannot reuse the next day), I like to see someone eat them. Anyway, I took a bag of three sandwiches down to one of the wine booths Friday night, intending them as a no-strings-attached gift, and the guy gave me a bottle of red wine. Usually, the wine vendors only part with the bottles that aren’t moving (the icky stuff) in a food-for-wine trade. We cracked open that bottle with our dinner, and it was really good wine. Come to find out the next day that he had given us a $25 bottle of Pinot Noir. Gotta love these wine festivals *hic!*
  7. Got my piece of "dirty" pecan pie ("dirty" = chocolate chips) from the Presbyterians on Friday night before they ran out. Yumm!
  8. After a month of bouncing around like a pinball between four different business opportunities in the local area, I believe I’ve finally narrowed my focus to the café in Old Town. It just…feels right. I am so allergic to getting my hopes up about anything, but I really want this little café. Cross your fingers for me…
  9. While I was out plying my trade (that doesn’t sound very good, does it…?) husband put the finishing touches on the never-ending bathroom project. Mouldings are up, grout is sealed, paint is touched up. It looks great. But we will have to think twice before coming up with anything quite so…creative… in the future. I hate it when these projects stretch on forever because we stray into unknown territories. This time, it was a ceramic-tile border on the wall that bogged it all down.
  10. Saw more of thethan . Looks like we may have finally closed the book on the crappy winter of ‘05-’06.

Ta daaaa! One more "Good Things" list in the bag. And I only have four days to rev up for the next one…J

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

RE: Ten Good Things

Hello all! Just wanted to let you know, I have not blown off my "Ten Good Things Weekly" list. I had an incredibly busy weekend, during which I was also far away from my internet connection. We got home late Sunday evening, and then had to get up bright and early Monday morning to drive to Tacoma (about a three-hour trek) to the Northwest Restaurant Show. Got home about 8:00 last night, and I was so exhausted I barely had enough energy to play a few games of solitaire before I was reading my monitor through my eyelids. Also realized I was experiencing that scratchy throat, runny-nose pre-cold feeling. Which was confirmed when I woke up this morning with the full-blown article.

I have a million things to do today, not the least of which is to try and find my house beneath the clouds of animal hair that collect when I am absent from the business end of a vacuum for a few days. Not to mention the other cat "functions" that go along with shedding season…. :-P

But I didn’t want to rush through my Good Things list, because part of the benefit of the exercise is to sit down and really meditate on the good things that happened during the previous seven days. So….I’ll try to take the requisite time this evening after dinner to do it up right.

And, oh…did I mention that my DSL is on the fritz, and I’m back on dial-up, at least temporarily? Gotta love that good ole reliable twenty-first century technology…