Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Another month gone by.  Spring has kicked into high gear.  Not necessarily the weather part of it, but certainly the time part.  Suddenly everything is green, fruit blossoms have burst and fallen to drifts of pink snow on the sidewalks, daffodils are a distant memory.  The garden center at Fred Meyer has gone from echoing emptiness to full to the rafters with all manner of green and flowering things in the wink of an eye.  It all just seems to be going too fast for me this year.  Increasingly too fast with every passing year, as a matter of fact.

We have been busy with fixing up the Junction City building to get it ready for restaurant licensing.  Every weekend for the past two months, the husband drives the 100 miles south to put in a couple of full days painting, scraping, plumbing and wiring.  And I have been spending weekends plus.   So far, we’ve torn out a sink, had a new sink installed (in a different room), torn down walls, scraped mold, painstakingly scratched old paint off of floors, created a real bathroom out of what once could be barely called a pot to piss in, balanced on ten-foot ladders to paint, scrub and plaster.

All things that could have been done much more handily by a group of folks twenty or thirty years our juniors.  But we did it.  We had to, actually.  Seems that business is so great for small contractors that they have no interest in getting paid to do the things we need done.  So we pulled on our big-girl and big-boy pants and did it ourselves.  The results are acceptable.  Honestly, judging by the quality of some of the work we DID manage to contract out, I’d say doing it ourselves saved us money while not necessarily compromising the quality of the work.  It’s not a professional reno job by any means…but it looks a helluva lot better than it did.  I’m kicking myself, now, for not taking “before” pictures.    

I mention this by way of explanation for why I do not come here and write these days.  But I know that’s just a smoke screen.  When I was exhausted unto catatonia in the restaurant days, I came here with my thoughts and frustrations, and even threw in a political commentary here and there.  No, it’s not that I’m too busy.  I’m just wrestling with demons that I’m pretty sure no one is interested in reading about.  And I guess I’m not interested in writing about them, anymore.  I’m so done with clawing at the same walls of depression, fear and anxiety that have surrounded me for more than fifty years.  

There are times I feel like I have victory.  Like the walls have finally eroded away and I am free.  This is not one of those times. 

And the hell of it is, I’m sick to death of thinking I’m free at last and then figuring out that, no, the walls are not gone.  I’ve just been too busy or engaged to pay them any mind for awhile.   But they never go away.  And at this precise moment, following a winter of illness and aimlessness and loss, the walls are looking as tall and stout as ever.  And I’m SO tired of them.  I hardly have the strength or the drive to scratch even a tiny toehold into the shortest one.

Of course, the answer is to get busy and engaged again.  I’ve recently come to realize my options in that direction are severely limited—by my age, by my resume, by my physical location.  And this has really put me into a funk.  Every other time in my life, I felt confident that all I had to do was get myself up off my butt and “get out there,” and the work or the distraction would be available.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  Unemployed near-retirement-age is new—and frightening—territory for me.  It is decidedly uncomfortable to realize you don’t have anything to offer anyone anymore.  That, after a lifetime in the workplace, you have not one skill that anyone would be willing to pay you for.  That, in fact, those years in the workplace haven become a stone around your neck, or a scarlet letter, when it comes to finding employment.

Life goes on.  I’ll do the building renovations, I’ll tend my yard, I’ll vacuum up the dust bunnies and do the laundry.  Rearrange the furniture and clean out the cupboards and closets for the umpteenth time.

And wish that spring—the season of rebirth and renewal—was more representative of what is going on in MY life.  Because my soul seems to be stuck in mid-winter.      

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Best Dog EVER

Off the top of my head I can think of four beloved felines who have departed our lives during the years I’ve kept this blog.  I love my cats…I really do.  If asked, I would call myself a cat person, never a DOG person. 

But we did love a dog.   A very special dog.  She shared her life with us for over thirteen years.  But I wanted her for more. 

Lucy was the child we never had, the “dog niece” to my sisters, “dog cousin” to my (human) niece and nephew, the “grand-dog” to my mom.  And, oh, how she loved Grandma!  She loved any Grandma, actually.  At Mom’s Assisted Living building, Lucy hit the jackpot of Grandmas.  She would walk down the halls and greet every old lady she met with her bent-in-half tail wag and excited “hoo-hooo-hooo” greeting.

The “hoo-hoo.”  She knew her family, and every member got the “hoo-hoo” greeting when they returned to “the pack” after being away.  If you got a “hoo-hoo”  from Lucy, you knew you belonged.

We were kind of “nazi” dog parents.  Lucy was not allowed on the furniture, never slept in our bed.  Didn’t, as a rule, get people food.  We didn’t feed her scraps from the table, and scolded our guests for trying to get away with breaking our dog rules. 

But she was always with us.  The back seat of any vehicle we drove belonged exclusively to the dog.  Asked to share with a human passenger, she would do so with great reluctance, evidenced by heavy sighing and passive aggressive stretching and nosing until the interloper was confined to the smallest possible share of the dog’s seat.  She was the RV dog, the campfire dog, the beach dog.  The “make sure the hotel/vacation rental/campground is dog friendly” dog.  She shared our lives as none of our feline children ever has, could or would.

She loved frisbees and tennis balls, nerf footballs and Mike Wazowski.  She loved playing soccer goalie at the top of the stairs.  She loved biting soap bubbles--the closer to the source (your face) the better.  She loved going for rides in the car.  She loved the dike, and the church yard down the block.  Did I mention she loved the beach?  She LOVED the beach.

And she loved us.  And we loved her.  We had a great life together, Lucy and her family, and her cats. 

And now she’s gone.  All quite suddenly.  But maybe not really.

And oh…how we miss her.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Obese, Anxious and Depressed

Headline on a Salon story today:  Why Americans are Obese, Anxious and Depressed.

I didn’t read the article.  I have my own theories about why Americans are fat, sad, and biting their nails clear down to their first knuckles.

It’s the economy, stupid!

And middle class Americans have realized they are an endangered species. 

Since the rise of the American middle class in the early 20th century, there has been an enduring belief among the rich and powerful that every dollar added to the coffers of the middle class was a dollar “stolen” out of the pockets of the rich.  And they have been hell-bent to get those dollars back, one way or another.  For over 100 years, Big Business has fought organized labor tooth and nail, grudgingly capitulating to demands when required by law, while consistently plotting to get “theirs” back.  And it looks like they have succeeded.

All the best things, all the finest things, from food to medical care to education to housing to entertainment, have increasingly become affordable only by the rich.

We’re fat because the cost of proteins like meat, seafood and even nuts, along with the prices of fresh, unprocessed foods, have risen so astronomically that we subsist more and more on cheap, carbohydrate-laden fast foods or processed meals from WalMart’s shelves and freezer cases.

Since a college education is increasingly outside the realm of affordability, we’re sad because we watch our children grow up to an aimless, jobless, hopeless adulthood.  Or we watch them toil in the only industry left to them—the service industry.  Where they are abused and disrespected on a daily basis not only by the “haves,” but by the “have-wannabes” that live next door.  Or we cry as they are forced to join our "all volunteer" military,  because there is literally no other respectable avenue open to them. The military will promise them many things, but first they will be sent off to grapple with death in corporate-backed wars-for-profit.

We’re anxious because we know there is state-of-the-art medical treatment out there,  but it is not for us.  Even if we have the best insurance our money can buy, we will not have access to the best that medical science has to offer. We  know that the term “catastrophic illness” was coined just for us.  Should we be unfortunate enough to develop one, we will go bankrupt or die.  Or both.

I imagine this might be how the dinosaurs felt as they stared into the face of whatever event wiped them off the face of the earth.