Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grant me the Serenity


Coming up on the 2017 Astoria Crab Festival. 

Doing events in Astoria is like being at home.  Since we moved to Scappoose in 2001, Astoria--70 miles west on Highway 30--has become our second home.  We've rolled a series of at least five different trailers, plus several incarnations of restaurant equipment, down the highway to events in that lovely little town.  The event center at the fairgrounds has become so familiar, I almost feel like a part owner.

One of my favorite things about doing events in Astoria is the opportunity to "camp" practically on the grounds of the venue.  The past couple of years, we've been able to turn our little 12-foot utility trailer into quite serviceable sleeping quarters for 3 retirement-age ladies.  It's kind of funny, really.  We have to squeeze three cots, three sets of luggage, three sets of rainwear (it almost always rains at some point while we're there), lighting and power for after-hours entertainment (which involves sitting on one's cot and reading or watching You-tube videos on someone's device) a cooler for cold foods and a box for non-refrigerables into a 12' x 6' space.  Quite the challenge!  But...well, I love the challenge.  It's a part of the trip that I most look forward to

So this year, we have managed to fall into some "luck."  A friend of one of my sisters couldn't abide the idea of us cramming ourselves and our stuff into that teeny trailer, so she offered to acquire a hotel room for us for the three nights we'll be on the coast.  As it happens, three nights in the Best Western on the Prom in Seaside.  For free.  A gift.  That's great isn't it?  Isn't it?

Well, yeah.  It is. 

But my crotchety old-lady soul is being surprisingly cranky about the change in plans.  Apparently I have finally become too old and set in my ways to be grateful and graceful about manna falling from heaven.  I guess I want to bake my own bread, thank you very much.   What am I...some kind of idiot?

Shoot me now...           

Monday, April 24, 2017

Enough Already!



The view of my deck through the sliding glass door...  :(


This article was posted on February first at Weather.com: 

Since then, there has been THIS news: 

And then, there was March:

According to the National Weather Service, the wettest March on record was in 2012 when 7.89 inches of rain fell. As of Monday morning, Portland International Airport had recorded 7 inches of rain.

...Portland has also not experienced two consecutive dry days since Feb. 12 to 13. The last time the region saw three dry days in a row was Jan. 12 to 16 (but there was plenty of snow on the ground, so the "dry" might have been hard to notice).

And April:

The normal annual precipitation for Portland is 40.8 in. The normal water-year-to-date precipitation in Portland on April 24 is 32.94 in. At 53.17 in., the water-year-to-date precipitation as of April 24, 2017 is 161.4% of the normal water-year-to-date precipitation.

I am so god-damned sick of RAIN, and COLD, and DARK, I can hardly get up in the morning. 

Please....MAKE IT STOP!!!!  For just two or three days in a row.  That's all I'm asking.

PLEASE!!!!

 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What's on the Tube?



Several months ago, we cut the cord to cable TV.  We simply got tired of paying $200 a month for 200 channels, of which we faithfully watched maybe a dozen.  We decided that we could make do with Netflix and Amazon Prime, thereby  saving ourselves $2200 a year (my sister pays for the Netflix) and the annoyance of sifting through 200 channels and finding nothing decent to watch, much more frequently than $200 a month should allow.

I've always been a re-run addict anyway, dating all the way back to our newlywed days umpteen years ago when I used to tune in to reruns of "Emergency" while I made dinner in our tiny one bedroom apartment next to the airport.  So "binge-watching" entire series in a couple of months has not been a great stretch for me.  We've done "Bones" and "Crossing Jordan" (which,  it turns out, are essentially the same show, with similar plotlines, similar characters, and similar unconsummated sexual tension between the major male and female characters.)  I confess, in the end,  I liked "Jordan" better, as the characters, while quirky, were never as caricaturized as the "Bones" cast eventually became.  Too, with "Bones," I have a real problem with the wardrobes of the female characters.  Apparently, you just throw a lab coat on over your  body-hugging designer sheath dress, and the stilettos make it so you don't have to pump the autopsy table up too high.  What woman wouldn't want to display the height of fashion while sifting through gore and rotting flesh?

Having come to the end of the series with both "Bones" and "Jordan," I had to choose another series to keep me company while I stay up late on puppy duty--keeping her out of trouble and making sure she goes potty one more time before I head to bed.  After some deliberation, I decided on "Grey's Anatomy," since everyone seems to be so hooked on it.  The OTHER things that are so wildly popular these days--like Orange is the New Black, or Breaking Bad, or Mad Men or some of the other dark, sex-obsessed offerings that are floating around the airwaves have no appeal for me at all.  Sorry.  When I watch TV, I like to be entertained.  Not titillated or grossed out or pissed off or frightened. 

So.  Grey's anatomy.

I guess I was expecting something a little more...mature?  Believable?  Something...

If Grey's characters are supposed to be representative of  "strong female roles," someone goofed.  I mean...the first scene of the first show has our main character giving the bum's rush to a one-night-stand, flippantly ejecting him from her apartment and her life on the morning of her first day as a surgical intern at a fictitious Seattle hospital.  Now...there's a strong woman!  An independent woman; one who knows what she wants and goes after it with single-minded confidence!  Right? 

But then she goes to work and finds that the guy she just rushed out of her bed is a surgical attending at that very hospital.  Basically, her teacher/boss.   And of course, she proceeds to fall in love with him, and things get very messy. And hyper-sexual.  

Honestly...these young people are supposed to be working 48-hour shifts, and yet they seem to have limitless energy and appetites for sex.  One of these supposed brilliant young female interns is even stupid enough to get pregnant from one of these intense sexual relationships. 

Yes, I know this is fiction and is not meant to resemble reality.  But I am a little put off by what these characterizations say about young female professionals.  About the fact that they can't seem to be good at or serious about what they do without being in the thrall of some man--and, incidentally, a man who is in a position of authority over them.  It's the same old tired, male-dominated garbage that we've been watching since Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver.  These young interns might not be wearing shirtwaists and pearls while they vacuum and wash up after dinner, but they are clearly demonstrating Woman's inability to climb out from under the thumb of Man,  even though that thumb rests on a higher level than it did fifty years ago.

I'm into the first couple of episodes of season 2, and so far I haven't seen anything magical.  It's a nice little show, inoffensive enough on the surface.  It's entertaining; it keeps me awake while I wait for 11:00 and the final dog walk to roll around.  But, frankly,  I can't quite figure out what is exceptional or award-winning about it.   

I'll keep watching.  Maybe it will get better.         

Monday, April 17, 2017

Helen Wheels



So.

An 8.5# munchkin came into our lives two weeks ago.  (BTW, she now weighs almost 11#.)

And this old lady has felt like she has been dragged behind an eighteen-wheeler for most of that time.   

I decided on her first day “home” that we had misnamed her.  Josie?  Really?  It had a cute ring to it, especially when paired with “…and the Pussycats,” since she’s going to have the five-feline back-up band for the rest of her life.

But, no.  “Josie” is way too tame.

What should her name have been?

Helen.

As in “hell-en wheels.”

This dog has energy to burn, and enough of the devil in her soul that much of that energy is spent devising ways to do exactly what we don’t want her to do.  She understands what “no” means.  She knows what “Come here!” means.  She just…chooses not to obey.  With a vengeance. 

And the name “Helen” would also bring to mind Helen Keller, who eventually became a beloved and brilliant writer and humanitarian.  But she had to have that “ah-ha” moment first—the one (which may or may not have actually taken place) depicted in “The Miracle Worker;” where Helen suddenly realizes that the world is full of things and things have names and communication may happen.   

We keep going through the training motions with this pup…but I don’t have the sense that she has figured out exactly what she does that earns her that bit of hot dog.  She seems to associate the treat more with the words, “Good girl!” than with the fact that she DID something we want her to repeat. 

Sigh! 

C’mon, Helen (I mean, Josie)!  Let’s see that light bulb flash on above your head!

Meanwhile…

She’s cute, anyway.  





      

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

when the pigeon meets the hawk




finches and jays
sparrows and starlings
woodpeckers and flickers
stop in my garden
to dine upon the humble offerings
of sunflower seed, millet and suet

a flock of collared doves
(stupid pigeons, we call them…
loud, awkward and scatter-brained)
pecks at corn scattered
under the maple tree

and the woodland hawks
sail in to dine upon the diners
fierce and arrogant
determined and efficient
sleek and agile
of all the birds my  garden
I admire them most

one misty morning
a twisting cyclone of feathers
tumbles over my shoulder and hits the ground
feet from where I stand
cooper’s hawk, stupid pigeon
in the ancient dance
of predator and prey

“pigeon!” I cry
the hawk, startled
loses its grip
dove flails off to a nearby bush
hawk gives desultory chase
breaks off and sails
to a bare tree
stares at me balefully

why could you not
leave me to my breakfast?
it seems to say
guilty, I reply
I’m sorry…
but my first instinct
is to root for the pigeon


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mary Oliver: I Happened to be Standing



I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that's their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don't know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn't persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don't. That's your business.
But I thought, of the wren's singing, what could this be
     if it isn't a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Free-flying

This song has been running through my head today...probably for a good reason. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hope is the Thing with Feathers...


I'm away from home for a few days, getting some production done at our building in Junction City.

This leaves the husband manning the home front...always a scary proposition.

When he told me what he ate for dinner last night, I nearly gagged.  Fried rice, kung pao chicken and some leftover baked chicken breast, mixed together and topped with the last of the arrabiata (tomato and spicy pepper) pasta sauce I made last week.  O. M. G.

And this afternoon, he was on a mission from God, the attitude he always takes when he tackles a project when I'm away from home.  He was cleaning out the garage in preparation for accommodations for the small canine animal that will be arriving this weekend.  I can't wait to get home and see what all (of MINE) he threw away.

But about 7:30 this evening, my phone beeped the "Matt text" beep...  And I looked down to see this:

 
 
...with the message: 
 
"Burdz.  Six of them..."
 
It's a pretty bad cel phone picture of the hummingbird feeder outside our family room window, with at least four birds on it that I can see, and maybe a couple more hovering around, waiting their turn.   


Does the husband really care about hummingbirds?

No...  But he knows I do. 

I was oddly touched by this small reminder that he was thinking of me.

I don't know. 

Maybe we've turned a corner or something... 





Saturday, March 25, 2017

Giving its Due



My body is merely the shell of my soul
But the flesh must be given its due
Like a pony that carries its rider back home
Like an old friend that's tried and been true.

Eagles and Horses, John Denver 1990
 
In our society,  we are at war with our bodies.

We're never content with how they look.  They're too fat, to thin, too tall, too top-heavy; our hair is wrong, our eyebrows too thin, our noses too long or too crooked.  Our skin is the wrong color. 

On top of that, we don't trust our bodies.  We're live in constant fear that they are going to threaten us with some illness or infirmity that we cannot possibly accept as...the natural way of things.  Our bodies are out to get us; we must monitor them diligently to make sure they don't get the upper hand in the struggle.

I'm not getting any younger, and over the past five or six years, it's been disconcerting to begin to understand that my body has and will continue to undergo age-related changes for which I am not particularly prepared.  My mind does not feel old...other than the fact that my head contains a stack of memories nearly six decades high.  So when I glance down and see my mother's wrinkled hands attached to the ends of my arms, or when I have a hard time recognizing the sexagenarian face looking back at me from the mirror, I get this sense that...."Oh my god.  I really am getting old!" 

A little over a week ago, I made the decision to get serious about losing weight and getting fit, after a largely sedentary and over-indulgent winter.  But it's not because I want to look younger, or battle the aging process, or somehow keep my body from betraying me into an early grave. 

Rather, I've realized I need to be kind to my body.  I need to give it every opportunity to carry me forward as many years as we can go on together.  I need to feed it better food.  I need to keep it active... it tells me regularly that it does not like a sedentary lifestyle.  I have always had an overabundance of kinetic energy keeping me upright and moving; and sixty years in is a bad time to decide to allow the machinery to grind to a halt and get rusty.    

So I'm moving, I'm putting better feed into the trough, and I'm trying to set my course toward beautiful things (which hasn't been easy this rainy, cold, dreary winter.) 
And maybe this old pony will carry me on for a few more decades.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Shirt


Early last fall, one of my resale retail therapy excursions yielded this shirt.  



It’s a perfectly serviceable shirt.  A cotton thermal waffle-weavy affair, the sort of thing I own in various colors of the rainbow and wear all the time.  It sports an attractive print of black on gray—two of my go-to clothing colors.  And it’s long enough to fit down over my expanding hips and possibly even cover the vexing old-age camel-toe I’ve developed because most of my pants are at least a half-size too tight but I’m determined to lose ten pounds rather than go out and buy all new pants. 

The morning of November 8, 2016, dawned sunny and bright, perfect weather for wildlife photos.  I donned this shirt and a pair of old jeans, grabbed my new camera and headed over to Sauvie Island for a practice session.  The ulterior motive behind this being to take myself away from the tedious, soul-killing hype of election day media coverage.

On that day over on the island, the Universe gifted me with a unique one-on-one encounter with a perfectly obliging little barred owl, who patiently posed on a limb at the edge of a stand of trees only a few yards from the road…practically right above my head.  There she sat, turning her head one way and then the other, fixing her soft black eyes on me with a steady gaze, but showing no sign of fear or flight as I moved closer and closer.  I must have taken fifty shots or more of her.  I was enchanted. 

 

The enchantment, however, was not nearly enough to buoy me through the rest of the day’s happenings.

Later that evening, my head nearly exploded as I watched the Cheeto Jesus—beyond all reason, logic, and credibility—elected the 45th President of the United States.  


I have a thing about clothes.  I tend to think of them as talismans…charms.  Carriers of juju.  If something really good or really bad happens when I’m wearing some particular item, it’s forever marked with the energy of that occurrence. 

So.  This shirt.

While wearing it, I experienced an amazingly beautiful and loving gift from the Universe.

On the same day, that shirt covered my body as one of the illest winds ever to blow across this continent crawled from east to west and trapped us in this hell which we now inhabit.  Maybe in terms of what it says about the state of our national character and our place among the nations of the world, this was a disaster well beyond the scale of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.  November 8, 2016 was the event that very possibly has signaled the beginning of the end of our Republic. 

I’m afraid the encounter with Ms Owl just doesn’t contain enough positive energy to erase or even begin to counteract the negative stench that piece of clothing absorbed later that fateful day. The stink of Trump’s victory forever taints everything; everything about that day and the days that have followed.    

The shirt has sat in my drawer for four months.  I look at it, I reach for it, I just about convince myself that I’m being ridiculous, silly, insane…it’s just a shirt, and a nice shirt at that.

But I just can’t put it on.  I can’t.

Back to the Goodwill it goes.

Or maybe I should burn it…?        

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No Surprise



I don't watch Fox News.  I don't watch The 700 Club.  I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, or Glen Beck, or talk radio of any kind.  If I do, by accident, somehow subject myself to as much as fifteen seconds of any of this batshit right-wing hateful  hysteria,  I'm almost immediately ready to jump out a window.
The down side of this is, since I make it a point NOT to look at or listen to this stuff, I have no idea how bad it actually IS.  And this is what caused me to be so utterly blindsided by the crazy rise of candidate Trump.   And subsequently speechless in disbelief when he actually won the presidential election. 
But the following video showed up on my Facebook News feed the other day. 


Watch it.  All of it, if you think you can stand it.  I did.

Now.  Having seen this 6-minute stream of lies, inane accusations, screaming hatred and manufactured crises, you will have to ask yourself:
Why would anyone who watches this stuff day after day NOT choose Trump?  He's the pure personification of all the ugliness, violence and unmasked hatred recorded in these film clips and sound bites. 
This stuff had been going on for eight years.  Since long before running for office was even a foggy spark in Trump's twisted brain.   
Trump is not the cause of our nation's descent into bedlam. 
He's the result. 
My questions are these:  How do we save people who will watch and believe this putrid garbage?
And...do we really want to?


Monday, March 20, 2017

A State Funeral for Trump? Ugh!


Yesterday, an old reporter passed away.  His name was Jimmy Breslin, and he was a Pullitzer Prize-winning veteran of the smoke-filled sausage-fest copy rooms of the 20th century.  Breslin was known for presenting sympathetic views of the "common man." 

Upon his death, articles and tributes circulated around the internet.  Many called attention to his most famous column, a piece written two days after the funeral of  JFK.  Breslin chose to catalog the emotions surrounding the burial of the slain president through the eyes and actions of the man who dug Kennedy's grave. 

I read through that column, sitting at the breakfast table on Sunday morning.  It was a beautiful piece of writing; the like of which we are not likely to see again, in this rush-to-publish, sell-the-soap, poke-the-hornet's-nest era of journalism we are now forced to endure. 

Most poignant was Breslin's   description of Jackie Kennedy walking down the streets of Washington DC behind her husband's casket:

"She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles.  She walked straight and her head was high.  She walked down the bluestone and blacktop driveway and through shadows thrown by the branches of seven leafless oak trees.  She walked slowly past the sailors who held up flags of the states of this country.  She walked past silent people who strained to see her and then, seeing her, dropped their heads and put their hands over their eyes.  She walked out the northwest gate into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.  She walked with tight steps and her head was high and she followed the body of her murdered husband through the streets of Washington."

His clear description brought back my own memories of that day.  I was only eight years old, and yet, I remember.  The television was on all day, and we watched the proceedings, live.  Every minute.  Young as I was, I absorbed the tragedy, and the solemnity, and the painstaking formality of the ceremony. 

Half a century later, sitting at the breakfast table with my coffee and my iPad and my memories on Sunday morning, a thought occurred to me that was almost unendurable.
 
Since last November, I have secretly longed for some fatal tragedy to befall our hapless joke of a president.  Honestly. And I can't be the only person in America whose thoughts have fluttered around this abhorrent and perverted hope.  Despite the cyclone of all things crass, idiotic, dangerous and anti-presidential that emanates from and swirls around him every minute of every day, he remains essentially untouched.  The sudden cessation of his existence would seem the only way we can possibly be shed of him. The very fact that he could induce me to wish death upon another human being makes me loathe him even more.

But when I thought about the pomp and solemnity and honor...the tragic beauty of the state funeral for John Kennedy, our last President to die in office; and pondered all that being put on for Cheeto Jesus...I nearly lost my breakfast.

Unimaginable.  Unconscionable.  Sacrilegious.  To even conceive of that sort of tribute and respect and national mourning applied to the loathsome toad who currently sits behind the desk of the Oval Office.
Never. 
Thanks to Jimmy Breslin, that old-school, cigar-chomping journalist of the last century, I no longer wish death on the SCROTUS. 
Not unless we could simply throw him back into the sewer he crawled out of and let the rats and maggots take care of him.