Saturday, May 30, 2015


I was cooking dinner tonight and a vivid memory, from 1993, came flooding over me, from when I was living with my boyfriend Don. 

He was working as a dishwasher at Hamburger Mary's during the day and playing bass at night, and I was working at some dead-end thing, I think I was doing data entry and teaching a preschool class on Sundays for the Quaker church.

Don was younger than me, by a year and extremely naive, having devoted his whole being to jazz music and not much else.

He also came from a nice family.

He was not what anyone would call worldly at that time.   

Don would come home with lots of colorful stories, because Mary's was a colorful gay bar and diner, the kind of place that generates a lot of FUN!

He also loved the soup that the new cook Gary made.


Don would come home and ask me to try to replicate the fabulous soup, made by Gary the morning cook.

One of these soups was a tomato with orange and basil.

I worked for weeks to try to duplicate that god damned soup, but could never quite get it to be as good as Gary's.

At some point it came up that Gary had recently got out of prison and didn't know very many people in Portland.

He came from somewhere in Idaho, or Montana, someplace small, without a lot of people around.

He was living close to us, in that shitty, narrow building that used to run along West Burnside and 26th.

A real dump.

A real roach motel.

I'd been to that building on several occasions, as it was a place that would rent to punk teens with sketchy employment.

So all the while Don is talking up Gary's cooking to me, he is also talking up my cooking to Gary!

Eventually, Gary invited us over to his place for dinner.

I brought acini di pepe with blue cheese, garlic and olive oil and arugula from our garden, and Gary was going to  make the orange soup. 

We walk down the windowless hall to Gary's place, and knock on the door. 

The door opens and a tall super muscled dude wearing Docs, red, narrow suspenders and a white T-shirt opens the door. 

His hair was slicked back and he had a hard look about him. 

When he reached out to take my pasta, I noticed he had SKIN tattooed on his wrist. 

We ate our food and bullshitted about cooking and then we left. 

On our walk home I asked Don if he'd noticed Gary's tattoo.  

At this time, Portland wasn't yet overrun with tattooed hipster, so it was mostly counter culture types and bikers, that had ink.

"Isn't that the funniest and most ironic tattoo ever?  I mean SKIN! His skin is tattooed with the word SKIN!" 

I gently explained the suspenders, the shoes and what SKIN stood for, while Don looked at me like I had killed a puppy. 


Last Saturday I learned that one of my old preschool parents had committed suicide.

It struck me hard, and I thought of this very kind and gentle fellow all week.

I'd kept in touch casually over the years and I knew he'd been struggling. 

People struggle. 

Life is a struggle.

It hurts my heart that he wasn't able to hang on. 

He was a lovely person and appeared to have many people in his life that would agree with my assessment.

I'll gather with some of them in the morning, in a bar.

My friend M will go with me, and we wont know the others, I imagine. 

We only knew him as a dad. 

As a sweet soul who was willing to help.

Willing to garden, or cook, or clean.
The first strawberries of the year are sitting on my kitchen drainboard waiting for a wash and hulling.

Rolf and Freyja picked them yesterday, on the island, in the sun, after feasting on a cupcake AND a cinnamon roll.

I told Freyja that she is the luckiest little girl in the world, to have such an indulgent Onkel, and she told me that I didn't know that they also went to The Skyline, after wading in the river, for french fries and a shared chocolate shake for dinner AND he let her stay up and drive to the airport to pick Mark up.

I was working.

My assistant was on vacation this week and what a week it was.

Good heavens. 

I went to Zoom Care on my way home.

They have this bright and shiny office on Hawthorne.

They are open until midnight, in case you need them LATE.

I was informed of this three times.

Zoom Care is Furnished with modern plastic chairs and a bamboo floor.

They have cobalt walls. 

The don't have magazines.

They do have tea.

I do enjoy a complimentary beverage, when I can get one. 

They have a receptionist named Jeffery, who has perfectly trimmed fingernails, square and strong.

Jeffery asked me if I had weekend plans and there was a sort of awkward pause.

"I can't breath through my nose, and my head hurts, my plan is to not bludgeon myself."

It seems I have a sinus and ear infection.

I was given antibiotics for possibly the first time in a decade, and I feel remarkably better already.

I hid the antibiotics from Rolf.

He had been pestering me to try oil pulling and some kind of black pepper preparation, for my stuffed up nose, for two weeks.

"It's not going to get better, if you don't do the TREATMENT!" 

I let the tea he brewed me grow cold in the cup.

I watched episodes of Chopped on the IPAD.

I behaved in a manner, that made him think I was not serious about feeling better.

I told Rolf I would process the berries.

Don't worry about it. 

But I lied.

I left them on the counter and they look a little worse for it, this morning.

I may make a pastry cream to pay for my sins.

I may use it to fill a genoise cake, and cover the whole mess with the berries, as an act of contrition.

I have been the iron lady my whole life.

A woman of steel.

The anemia of the past few years has worn me down to a nub.

My naturopath looked at my blood-work and said

"your body is in a state of fighting, or exhaustion, you are functioning like someone in a coma. Adrenaline! Adrenaline! You are just running on Adrenaline"

Which made me feel remarkable for everything I do, do.

I know her intention is for me to rest. 

"Can't you go on a yoga retreat? Just GET AWAY for a couple of weeks, a month."

She doesn't know I have never rested in my entire life.

One of my employees was very insolent this week.

Mark said "FIRE HER."

Instead, I scrubbed her classroom floor on my hands and knees and changed five diapers in a row, and then went back to my work, to show her how it's done.

To demonstrate that my standards are exactly high enough. 

I am quite frequently the biggest fool in the world.

My mother used to joke, that I was like the little pig in the story, the one that would outsmart the wicked wolf, by beating him to the punch.  By having already been to the fair, and back, before the wolf had risen for the day.

I did walk into work every morning this week at 6:30am, just to prove I can't be wilted by something as silly as a long day and a stuffed up nose, and no assistant. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

hog pen shipwreck

I've been sicker than a dog all week, coughing, stuffed up nose and eye infection.

Work's been insane, so I just worked on through. 

I had high hopes of getting the housework back on track today, but I can't walk two steps without a coughing fit.

I make a lousy sick person.

I've been irritated with the kids all week too. 

Their lack of support around the house is shocking to me.  I don't ask them to do, what I would consider a whole lot, but they don't even do that little dab, without a big push.

I always helped my mother with housework, and fixed dinner on weekdays.  You can ask, her, she'll tell you so.

I saw my mother working long hours and I felt like a big jerk if I didn't help.  My bother never appeared to share that guilt.

A big part of the problem is my own damn fault.  I babied my son to pieces, and never asked him to do very much until recently. 

I wait on both of them and Mark hand and foot, as my mother's observed.  I even coddle the animals. 

I guess I thought they would learn how to do stuff through observation, but so far, no dice.

Mark's good to help, but he works long, hard hours and I don't like to leave much to him, because I know he's tired.  He also deals with all of Freyja's sport shit, that I hate, so I figure I can handle the house.

Growing up, we weren't allowed to leave the house on Saturday, until everything was done.
That meant ev er y thing- beds changed and made, all dirty laundry washed, dried, ironed, every floor mopped, every surfaced washed, every  tchotchie dusted, lawn mowed, garbage emptied.  

My mother would be up, blasting Gilbert and Sullivan, wielding a broom, vanquishing dust-bunnies, cigarette, dangling Cool Hand Luke style from the corner of her mouth.  

My brother with lollygag and drag his feet, while I worked double time, because I had places I wanted to go. His Saturdays consisted of trashing the place, with several other boys, and mine were all about getting my ass on a bus as soon as I was released from service. 

So when I come home at 5:00pm and see that neither of my children have  emptied out their lunch boxes, so I can quickly refill them, or taken out the trash, or cleaned up their after school snack, I raise a little ruckus.
This week, I have mostly left the ruckus to their father, and crawled into bed, and it shows.
This place looks like a hog-pen-that is what my grandmother might say. (It took me years to realize that non-farm people don't really get the gravity of farm references.) My father would say the wreck of the Hesperus, but pig dwelling, or shipwreck, this place looked bad. 

Mark instructed me to lie in bed, which was just plain foolish of him.  

He knew better.  

I should have known better, than think you would rest. 

My reluctant troops were mobilized and sort of half-assed it enough to where I can sort of relax.  I'll call my gal Lauren to come help me next week, when I surely will be feeling stronger.