Thursday, June 30, 2016

Walter the gardening wunderkind, texted me at 7:30am to say that he could come and take care of the ivy and blackberries, that are invading from the weirdo neighbor's hedgerow. 

The weirdo neighbor will never take care of anything. 

It would be a fool's errand even to ask.

Walter and a boy, who might be Walter's son were out digging around when I left the house at 11:00.

I wanted to go thrifting on my day off and get a bit of lunch. 

That is about the most exciting thing I wish for these days.

I found an excellent tablecloth, with lace trim, and a big basket embroidered in the center.  I am using it for a curtain in the living-room, where the windows are an odd size, and the unfinished wood trim should not be covered up.

I also found a couple of other little dresser scarves, hand embroidered by someone's grandmother.  One had striking butterflies, and I wanted it for an end-table. 

I love old things, especially old handwork.

I have a lot of it here and there and everywhere around the house. 

It gives me great comfort and joy.

The July haiku dinner will be large with 14 guests, so I also picked up a couple odd wineglasses.  I haven't quite come up with a theme, but country picnic. 

A pate, a liver mousse, some salady things.

I have this week off.

My big summer break!

I've been working 60 hours a week since fall and I am tired.

I am mostly resting and doing a few essential appointments.

Two weeks ago, my beloved naturopathic doctor broke up with me. 

It came as an utter shock and made me feel completely unworthy of care and love and anything good.

My crime?

I asked if I could run my annual blood work for my thyroid medication through my primary care physician, rather than her private lab, which would have cost me well over $300, plus all the fees and supplements for an office visit out of pocket (over $500).

Her answer was NO.

She didn't contact me herself, she sent me a curt antagonistic certified letter, from her office assistant. 

It didn't matter that I had cancelled physical therapy for me knee, to be able to afford her treatment, and left messages saying so, I was already dead to her.

All of this would have been much less traumatic to me, had my prescriptions not run out.

The bottle of medications state very clearly "do not stop taking this medication abruptly". 

I was terrified, not just of dropping into a coma and dying, like the internet said could result in stopping the medication, but of feeling horrible and becoming severely anemic again. 

I went in on Monday and saw my primary care doctor, who is covered by my insurance.  She gave me a small hug and wrote me the prescriptions.  She ordered the blood tests and she told me that she loves seeing me, because I am so funny and she loves my stories about my preschoolers.

This small kindness nearly broke my heart, after being treated with such disregard.

She was sad that I had cancelled the physical therapy for my knee. 

I thought my knee was a lost cause, but it turns out that it's just over compensating for my bad back, and my bad back is a result among other things from my cracked pelvis, from  a car accident in 1998.

I will go back to the physical therapist in July.  I felt about a million times better after just one visit.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I work four long days and take one mid day off, but this week I switched my day off to Friday, so I could spend some time with Mark.

On the way home I noticed the new Winco had finally opened in the food desert end of 82nd, ten blocks from my route home.

So I stopped.

The kids needed yogurt for lunches and there were bulk things I could stock up on.

I had, had high hopes that this mega store that took two years to open, would be nice, and maybe slightly more upscale than the ghetto Food 4 Less it was replacing, but no, if anything, if might be a bit worse, because of my expectations. 

The place is a windowless, eggshell-white, cinder-block box, with shelving that goes to the ceiling.

The kind of place that induces panic attacks in my mother.

The kind of place Mark refuses to shop.

I like to embrace my blue-collar roots and frequent this kind of place from time to time, just because, and there is often cheap rice.

As expected it was packed to the gills with shoppers. 

I wandered around and found the odd bulk items and the yogurt, and a few other odds and ends, and found myself on the one empty aisle. 

The noodle aisle.

I was busy strolling, thinking about noodles and sauces, when I knocked over a stack of egg-noodles.

I contemplated just leaving them there, but thought better of my wickedness, and picked them up. 

I picked them up slowly, one by one, because I was very tired, and lost in thought, about egg-noodles and beefaroni.

When I looked up, I saw a woman standing in front of me, doing that clenched fist gesticulating you do, to show that you are really angry and exasperated (I do it often, I should know!).

Then she made a little


sound with her mouth, and arched her eyebrow at me.

So naturally, I said "you could have just said 'excuse me', or 'get out of my way', if you were in such a hurry."

"Why don't you watch where you're going C---!"

and with that, it was ON, as they say.

"What if where I am going is right HERE!?"

I said, straightening up, into what I hoped was an intimidating posture.

She looked at me, and more importantly, I looked at her, and reassessed whether being called the C word was worth getting my ass kicked in the pasta aisle of a big box store.

This gal was young, tough and most assuredly quicker than me.

Both my mother and Mark have been telling me for years that my mouth was going to get me killed one day.

So I untensed a bit and walked away, resisting the urge to throw a bag of macaroni at her.

Friday, May 27, 2016

There was a post going around this week on Facebook, regarding a man that had approached a child playing basketball in his driveway, on 50th and SE Stark. 

The child's mother was home and saw the man talking to her child, and went out and confronted him.  Apparently, he was acting very strange and insisting on getting close to the child, and after the mother called the police and photographed him, he fled.

This was very upsetting to me, because it is so close to our house. 

Mark and talked to Freyja at dinner about safety...

Never get in a car with a stranger.

No grown up will ever need help from a kid, so if they ask for your help, then that is a sign that they are a badguy, and you should run away. 

You don't have to worry about hurting a grown up's feelings, you can be rude, you can ignore them and you can walk away.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, or yucky, you can tell us. 

Dad and I would never send anyone to pick you up that you didn't know, so never go with anyone, even if they say we sent them. 

If someone asks you to keep a secret from your parents, that is a sign they are a badguy.

If someone is bothering you at the park, look for a family, or a woman with children, to get help.  Don't be afraid to ask people to call your parents.

It goes on and on.

We try to be blasé, and empowering at the same time.

We have had this talk often throughout her life, but you never know. 

You just don't know if things sink in. 

I tell her about the time Maxwell lied to us, when he was in Jr. High, and went to party in Beaverton, and wound up having a terrible time, because he was with bad kids, but afraid to call us.

Maxwell nods, solemnly. 

Even though we were really angry about his bad choices, we would have come and picked him up.

Freyja looks astonished. 

She is typically the child that makes the bad choices, which mostly revolve around eating an entire box of Cheezits  and not brushing her teeth properly.

The notion of her brother lying and staying out all night with sketchy teenagers, is mind blowing.

I tell her about the time I was hitchhiking, and got a ride from really bad guys, with my friend Dom.  They would not let us out of the car for a long time, until I started screaming and screaming and banging my shoe against the window.

That was a really dumb thing. 

Getting into a car with strangers, is really dangerous and stupid.  

I tell them cautionary tales about smoking


The conversation devolves a little and Freyja wanders off to watch TV, and Maxwell and I are left at the table.

He is leaving for the weekend to a music festival in Seattle. 

At 17 he is very mature and I trust him completely. 

He got all that ratbag stuff out of his system in Jr. High.

(I hope)

Please make good choices the weekend, I could not stand it if anything happened to you, you know.  I would just disappear, evaporate, whither up and die. 

He gets up and stands behind me, and gives me a patronizing kiss on the top of my head. 

He tells me to "calm down", which makes me furious, but I know he's joking.

"And watch your teeth!"
(last year he was kicked in the face by a crowd surfer).

Sunday, May 15, 2016

 I hosted the third Haiku group dinner.  Unfortunately it was hotter than HELL, but Mark busted out two fans and went and bought bags of ice and mineral water, to keep everyone hydrated.
I did a Russian themed dinner, more Imperial, less Stalin, and used my great grandmother's china.  The china is absolutely beautiful and all the pieces are in tact, which makes me wonder if it had ever been used.  I asked my father and he said he had no memory of it.  I found some etched, bell shaped wine glasses at a thrift store, that went with it, beautifully, and my spray roses happened to be blooming, so the whole table looked pretty snazzy. 

Haiku dinner for 13

Lizzy brought her homemade "devil's water", plum liqueur

Cabbage rolls, in a sweet and sour tomato broth, sauerkraut and mushroom dumplings, bacon wrapped tenderloin, with roasted potatoes, eggplant & carrot salad with dill,  pickles, radishes, pickled beets

Salmon mousse, with obligatory corny decoration.  It tasted fabulous

Mixed berry torte with lavender honey whipped cream

My great grandmother Koger's china, inexplicably, my aunt didn't want this gorgeous set.  I love it!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Monther's Day

I went to a tea at my mother's house.

My cousin was there.

She has two daughters.

they look like our family

Around the mouth

My mother sat small in her chair, with her pale skin, and her green eyes, looking like my great grandmother, around the mouth.

In her skin.

In her freckles.

She made a great deal of egg salad, that was outstanding.

She had beets and some other pickled things.

They were all quite good.

My cousin is my doppelgänger.

My cousin is my Snow-white to my Rose-red.

My cousin has black hair to my blonde.

We ate a great deal of egg salad, and beets.

We talked about my grandmother, my mother's mother.

 Who cared for me, while my mother was attending college classes.

My experience with my grandmother was quite different from my cousin.

I was my grandmother's pet.

This is an open secret.

A fact.

My grandmother baked me gingerbread and biscuits.

She cut off pieces of meat that I loved and fed  them to me, by hand, like a house cat.

My cousin remembers my grandmother tired and aproned and cranky.

I remember meat warm from the oven, in her fingers.

My grandfather, walking me home from kindergarten, the joy they both had at seeing me, in the kitchen at 3:00pm.

My younger brother and my cousin would slide down the stairwell, relentlessly.



While I sate silently at the kitchen table.

My mother said

"Mom made dinner and desert every day."







a cobbler

"I don't remember her face, I remember her apron."

When I was a little girl my grandmother told me the story of her own mother, a cruel woman, that pulled her youngest daughters out of school, to cook for a threshing team.

"Alice made the pies, and I made the cakes"

My grandmother could make a crazy cake, a devil's food cake, a gingerbread and a banana bread, that could rival the best bakery.

Her pies were magnificent, but she always deferred to her younger and beloved sister.

" Alice made the best pies.  Alice is the pie maker."

As a small child I stood at her side, on the "tall chair" a wooden highchair, watching her cook.

She on very rare occasions made egg noodles, rolled by hand, and cut with a butcher's knife.

My grandfather favored potatoes.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Is your life not enough like a Portlandia episode already?"

Asked a friend last summer, when I told him I was working part time at a food cart.

We met for lunch on the patio of Holman's, with tatooed women in black eyeliner, smoking like chimneys, smoking like it was a perfectly healthy thing to do in 2015, and I was eating bacon at the time.
He's grown foreign, having moved to the east-coast after law school.
Portland was even a little cliched for him, a native.

I still like Portland, despite the traffic, which has grown insufferable, and the demolition of old charming houses and ratty charming buildings. 

I guess I do, maybe I don't so much anymore, but where to go?

I really like working at the food cart, I explained to him and many people after him.

I really like the people, and I am good under pressure. 

I like to cook.

I like to keep order.

I like a challenge.

I like getting a little dirty and frazzled.

So I continue.

I go faithfully each weekend and it pleased me very much.

I help by training new people, which also pleases me.

In general I am pleased.

Last Sunday, I was standing at the counter cracking eggs, 48 eggs, cracking and cracking, waiting for a new girl. 

I'd left the door open for the breeze.

People walked by, several stopped to see if I could make them breakfast, but I was not quite ready. 

I heard someone mumbling, so I said in my cheery breakfast lady voice "I'm not quite open yet, I can help you at 9:00, maybe a little bit earlier!" and turned to look and saw a disheveled fellow, but I was up high and rushing and not looking closely, and he was leaning on the back porchlet of the cart, chin to chest.

When he looked up, I saw that his mouth was bloody. 

Like someone had lined his lips with black Sharpie.

He moved his lips, but no words were coming out.

I said "WHAT?"

And then he started crawling over the edge, pulling himself up onto the platform, but slowly, like the zombies in The Walking Dead.

He slurred "I just want to come home, I am not in love with you!"

I realized that he was just wearing underpants. 

Maroon boxerbriefs, and one sock.

He was quite dirty, but not the kind of worn in dirt that people that live on the street usually have.

"You need to get OFF of there RIGHT NOW!"


I screamed at him, but he kept crawling, like someone pretend swimming.

I locked the door, but I couldn't tell if it was locked, or not.  It was one of those handles, that UNLOCKS when you jangle it from inside.

I bolted the top of the Dutchdoor, and fastened the chain.

I ran to the front and locked the windows. 

I looked out and not a soul was on the street. 

He'd climbed down and was embracing the ATM machine, which stands right next to the backdoor.

Sticking his hands in the slot, and hugging it over and over, like a weird ritual.

"I'm going to call the police, you need to leave!"

And he wandered off down the street.

My heart was pounding, not so much that I thought he might harm me, although I thought he might, but mostly because he spoiled something I like so much. 

I got a huge splinter in the palm of my hand from the top of the Dutch door, and my nerves were badly jangled. 

I am grateful he didn't touch me, his bloody hands. 

The idea of that made my skin crawl.

My friend Doug came down later and just sat outside and kept me company.

It got busy right at 9:00 and I don't think anyone could tell I was feeling woozely inside.

When I got home, I told Mark about it.

"Why didn't you call!"

I didn't want to wake him.  I didn't want to spoil his Sunday. I didn't really want to talk about it, very much.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Merle Haggard died today, and I have been listening to his lowdown country music all day, and I just thought of the time my grandfather and I went looking for one of his old foster daughters in old town.

He called me, which was unusual.

I used to call my grandmother everyday, just to say "hi", and when she died I started calling him, because frankly I couldn't imagine what he would do without her, but after a while I called less. 

We'd had a disagreement in the mid 90's and neither one of us was one to back down. 


It was slightly improved when my baby was born. 

He came to the hospital, when he heard I was very ill, and held newly born Maxwell. 

It's hard to convey to people with normal families, how deep and hard things are when they are deep and hard, but I knew that he must really need my help, if he called me up like that.

The last of my grandparent's foster children had aged out of the system in the early 90's, but they never became self sufficient. 

There was no place for them to go, so they stayed.

One became a crack addict and a prostitute and came and went.

During one of her times out in the world, she got mixed up with what my grandfather called
"a real bad feller"
and called to say she was being held against her will.

Which prompted my eighty year old grandfather to call me up and ask me to go looking for Charlotte.

Off we went into Portland's seedy Old Town, him in his gray Stetson, me in my wooden clogs.

We went into all of the seedy hotels, the day centers, the homeless feeding programs.

We talked to the cracked out folks milling around the Charlotte's last residence.

We found exactly nothing.

He never said thank you, or my goodness you are such a kind and selfless person, for walking the piss stinking streets looking for a girl who has robbed the house more times than anyone in the family can count.

He didn't say anything other than to affirm that he could not fathom my desire to live in the city, and that my coffee was too dang strong.  

It went without saying, of course, that it was my duty as a decent human being and someone raised in a Christian home, to help the less fortunate. 

I should just be grateful that my mind was sound and my body worked well. 

At one point I told him I felt like Doc in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but the joke was not welcome. 

He was worried sick, and so was I in some ways. 

She eventually came back, and left many more times. 

She stole and stole and stole.

At his funeral, she wept, and hugged me. 

My grandfather would have said

She ain't bad, she just ain't right in the head.