Saturday, December 24, 2016

Max and the Zacks went over to Zak L's place after band practice.

I can host practice, but the over night thing is not my favorite, Zak's parents have a bigger house and a rec room.

When he came home this morning he said that they had taken the dog for a walk around 11:30, and run into  a man beating up a woman at Richmond park.

When the boys walked up the man ran away.

The woman said she didn't want them to call the cops and that she would be ok. 

They walk on, but as they were coming around the other side of the block, they saw the guy chasing the woman down the block, so they rant after them.

The man turned and yelled at the boys, that he was a Crip and some other slurry nonsense, and Max said that while he wasn't afraid that a gang of Crips would come, he was concerned about the guy being armed and extremely unstable.

He said right at the moment they were going to call 911, a cop walked out of the cafe across from Village Merchants, so they told him about the couple and the cop jumped in his car and drove off toward the park, where they were last seen.

He was a little shaken up, as we don't have a lot of violence and drama in our lives (thank goodness) and he has certainly never seen a man punching a woman in the face before.






Thursday, December 15, 2016

Last night I went to bed very late, because I knew I didn't have to get up for work.

As I was falling asleep, I heard a scratching, coming from the built in cupboard, next to my bed.

Our house was build in 1916, and at some point someone finished the tallest parts of the attic and put in this chest of drawers and two cupboards right into the wall. 

Good concept, poor execution, because they didn't finish the back. 

The cupboard, is deep and opens right into the wings of the attic; you can see the roof, and a little bit of daylight, where the insulation ends.

I asked Mark to check.

He went downstairs and got an oven-mitten and a flashlight and slowly opened the cupboard door. 

There was nothing there.

We went to sleep, only to be awakened again at 3:00am and 4:45. 

I banged on the door, and barricaded it shut with my sewing machine and the trash can.

At first I was thinking rat, which was horrifying, but then I changed my mind to squirrel, because of the nature of the scratching.

When I worked for the yogic school we had a squirrel problem in the house where the nuns lived.

They were horrible pests, running through the walls and on one occasions busting through into the kindergarten room.

One tiny paw, sticking through the plaster, in a black power style salute.

This morning I asked Mark to look again and he said there was no poop (which rules out rats!), but there was the beginning of a nest, with pieces of insulation.

My plan is to blow dry the insulation back out of the cupboard, to create a hostile environment, then trap the squirrel, using the trap my neighbor lent me this morning.

I can then drive the squirrel five miles away, and release her.

I can't do any of this until this stupid snow melts, because driving is currently impossible. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Snow Day

The snow started falling during naptime.

I didn't notice, because I had all the shades drawn and the blackout curtains pulled, so the children would sleep as long as possible.

Ms. Theresa and I were hopping around settling restless children and cleaning the bathroom, when one of the dads burst into the room at 2:30.

I gave him my usual, I know you did not just walk into a roomful of sleeping preschoolers, look, but I could tell from the snow on his feet that is must have gotten bad, since we pulled the drapes at 12:30 for story.

He did a pretty decent job of picking up his sleeping child silently, while I rooted around in the giant pile of coats and boots for her pink snow pants and mittens.

We suited her up and sent them off into a Christmas card looking flurry.

My Facebook friend Kirkwhousedtobeinthenavyandknowsaboutweatherpatterns had said that this snow would be dry and the wind blustery and that it most likely would not stick, so I was feeling sort of ok about it.

Another parent texted me that she would be there in ten minutes, so I got her child up and dressed and seated on the shoe bench with a cracker.

When she arrived she said the traffic was bad, so I woke up the rest of the children, and got Theresa to help speed clean up the beds and get snack served, so she could get going home to NW.

Portland is just not set up to deal with snow and ice.

It is always a big mess.

It just is.

Best not to be out in it.

At 4:20 I was worried, but then my last little girl exclaimed that she saw her mom in the driveway, which eased my mind.

I cleaned up the last little bits and bobs and got the hell out, just as the snow was starting to pack down on the secluded side streets, in the sleepy neighborhood where the preschool lives, just over the Multnomah county line, and a little rural and not well traveled.

I slide a little as I pulled onto 72nd, behind a long line of stopped cars, but after crawling a few blocks, I noticed it was because there was a stalled car with it's flashers on.  We all drove around it carefully and were back in business by the time we passed Duke.

All the way home, uneventfully along 72nd, past Woodstock, Foster, Holgate, headed toward Powell, I felt profoundly grateful that my parents all picked up in daylight.

I have been working in child care since 1986 on and off and over the years I have been stuck closing many times with children that had parents that simply could not get to them.

The first time it happened was the winter of 1988, while I was working at a Montessori school downtown.

I met Rolf there that spring, and by winter we were already best friends.

We both lived downtown, he and his wife right next to Safeway on 10th and me a little further out on Broadway Drive, just at the base of the hill going up to Counsel Crest.

I was working and going to PSU and Rolf was finishing his PhD at the chemistry department and his wife was finishing hers remotely, which was harder back then than it is now with the internet.

They had a little girl that was in my class at the Montessori school.

The snow was falling and the city was shutting and all the children had been picked up.

Rolf had picked up Johanna and was waiting to walk home with me, but I had one baby left, Camden, a bald blue eyed beauty that I babysat frequently.

Camden's mother loved me.

She loved me because I knew a lot about taking care of babies, even though I was only 20.

She was a very nervous lady, a lawyer.

A teeny, tiny, nervous lawyer lady that didn't know anything about babies.

I can't remember what his father did, but he was gone often and was named Michael.

They lived up the hill from me in a very fancy house, that was minimally furnished with great intention.

My grandmother would have thought they were too poor for furniture, but they wanted it that way.

I often babysat for them over the weekends in that emptyish house.

I loved that baby fiercely, as I would many of the babies I cared for over the years.

So when the snow started falling and the children started leaving, and no one had come for Camden Brown, my boss came to tell me his parents were stuck in Salem and that they wondered if I could take him home with me, it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do.

So I packed up his bag, and set off in the snow, up the park blocks and onto Broadway.

I borrowed a stroller from the school and put the baby bags and my basket in it (in those days I carried all my school gear around in an absurd market basket),and put Camden in one of those old Gerry back packs that were in fashion then.

Rolf carried baby Johanna on his shoulders, she hung onto his long hair like the reigns of a horse, shrieking and laughing.

I was wearing my wooden Swedish clogs, the green leather ones that I got at a garage sale for .90, black cotton tights and long peasant skirt, with a motor cycle jacket, that I thought made me look like Patti Smith, and Rolf was wearing black leather boots that made it clear he was German.  I had my beret on my head and Rolf had wrapped the baby's sweater on his, tying the sleeves under his chin.

We slipped and slid along, until we hit Broadway, with all the awnings and made pretty good speed.

The plan was that we would walk along and at some point meet up with Rolf's wife in the car, but we wound up walking all the way to my house, with both both babies, our gear and the stroller.

When we got there my housemate and her girlfriend were home.

Rolf's wife made it a little later, having ditched their car, a 1968 Corolla at the bottom of my hill.

We all ate lentil soup and bread and played records and looked at the Christmas tree.

We played Scrabble and cooed at the babies.

Rolf and his wife and Johanna went home in the dark, walking through the park blocks to their tiny apartment,(a corner of the Simon Benson house, that would later be restored and moved onto the PSU campus).

Camden and I curled up with my poodle Teddy Braun, in my big antique bed, with all the blankets I could find, and Denise and Jackie, my roomates, slept on the floor with us, because there was only heat in the one room of that house.

The next afternoon the parents arrived to pick up their baby and paid me, for something I would have done for free.  





Saturday, December 3, 2016

Friday I drove to Carson, Washington and did a soak and wrap at Carson hot springs.

The Carson bathhouse a 1900 hotel in the middle of no where in the Columbia gorge. 

The place is shabby and smells like boiled eggs, but the mineral water is amazing and makes you forget about the yucky spots on the cast iron tubs, where the enamel has worn away.

You soak for a half hour and then you lie on a little lawn chairesque lounge, and a nice lady wraps you up in warm sheets and blankets, where you lie for another half hour. There is also a sauna, but I hate saunas so I didn't use it.

I was fully pain free for the rest of the day and night, after the soak. 

It is a peaceful place with no cell coverage, so perfect for a bit of mind clearing.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016


Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pear gingerbread tart tatin, and Karen's almond rocca cookies

My friend Tamara, who is always inexplicably delighted to see me and most kind



Ham and turkey
All the usual suspects, or most anyway, I made four fewer dishes this year in some kind of austerity measure, that didn't entirely make sense.  We still had too much food.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Yesterday I worked at the cart, and it was moderately busy.

Brisk.

It was fine, I was working with the sullen young man, that broods silently about whatever it is that fills his mighty mind, and keeps mostly to himself.

While this is not my most favorite model of work, he and I get a lot done and are typically quite successful.

He thinks I am old and resents me not allowing him to play his electronic music, and I find him insufferably young and cranky and am happy that I can play the old lady card and nix the music.

It is a delicate balance, but we make it work for five hours a week.

Yesterday, we were dealing with a new system of take out, a new venture by Uber, where you order food online and an Uber driver picks it up and drives it to you.

You can eat out while in your pajamas.

Hooray.

People have been doing this for decades with pizza and Chinese, but this is branching out to all the foods in the whole wide world.

It is a terrific concept, but it was new to us, and new to the drivers and there was this chirping and chiming ipad to contend with, rather than real people calling in their orders.

All the while our regulars, in all their hungover glory,
all the families with hungry children
young people in love,
elderly picky eaters,
each and every one, kept right on coming, all through the dinging and chiming.

 All through the chirping and tweeting, time marched on and the tickets piled up and the people had ten thousand questions, and we lovingly answered every single one, because that is what we do, we cook and serve with


l o v e.    

We remember who likes extra syrup, and who adds bacon to the sausage and who likes their things extra crispy.  

Then the new guy let the bacon run out, and surly dude and I gritted our teeth and steeled our nerves and worked through it.

"I was thinking you made those preemptive eggs too early, but they are almost gone"  

Is the closest thing to a compliment he said to me all day. 

And at some point there was a fellow named Kyle that ordered online and his driver was a little confused and needed to use the restroom, and I was feeling very nervous because I had made Kyle the most beautiful, breathtakingly gorgeous sweet treat in universe with whipped cream and berries and I just could not square that with the restroom, but there it was. I suggested he leave the bag, or better yet RUSH the food to it's recipient, pronto, and the hint was received.

My blood pressure rose and rose as I watched the driver wander around and around and eventually tramp off into the fog.

Naturally there was nothing I could do, but it disturbed me greatly.


My November dinner was a Mexican theme.

I made a Oaxacan salad with chili peanuts and pomegranate seeds , a pork and sweet potato mole, and goat cheese and mashed potato stuffed poblano peppers, friends brought salsa, a green mole with prawns and a corn and kale salad
.
 I also made margaritas and sangria

Everyone was shellshocked after the elections and a few guests cancelled but we managed to rally and have a nice time.

*photo credit to Ms. Dianna



charing peppers 



In other festive November news, I scored big at the Twilight Rummage Sale.

TLRS is a monthly gathering of pickers and junk hounds, at the Eagles Lodge on Hawthorne.

It is a last vestige of old Portland, with little old ladies and punk rockers and weirdos of every stripe, gathering to look at treasures, records, books, toys, and works of art and sometimes complete garbage, heaped upon  folding tables.

The Eagles have a bar and little diner in one corner, where there members gab, as shoppers shop and sometimes mix.

I scored this fabulous teensy cuckoo clock for ten dollars.

It has it's key and works, beautifully.

Freyja and I go faithfully each month, in hopes of catching artist Alicia Justus of Redstar art, because every single thing she makes is pure magic.

We collect a series of felt mice that she hand sews, as well as her little grab bags of vintage dodads and googas that one most certainly cannot do without. We also love the work of Kimi Boylan, who transforms found objects into amazing tiny shrines.  

Much more mice. 



A print of a painting by Alicia Justice, of  Ruth Gordon, from a 1940's movie magazine.

I had this perfect little leather frame lying around, so it was clearly meant to be, since I am a Ruth Gordon superfan.

 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Didn't see that coming

I was utterly shocked by the outcome of the election.

That is how insulated I am

You could have told me any number of ridiculous celebrities would be elected, and I would have believed it more readily, than Trump, but as my imaginary godfather Kurt Vonnegut says "so it goes".

Wednesday morning the parents streamed into the preschool with tears in their eyes, some obviously hungover, and sleep deprived.

The one most like a redneck, the hunter, the bro-dudest of them all, was misty at this national tragedy.

My trans parent sobbed and hugged me.

I did my best to offer comfort.

I know folks in the LBGTQ community are terrified.

In my feminist community women are buying morning after pills in bulk.

People talk of underground women's health collectives, things I had not heard of since the 80's.

The arts will surely get better.

Punk rock will rise again.

I am an old lady.

I will never need an abortion, a sex change, or political asylum.

I will not risk being beaten, or killed for the color of my skin, or my sexual orientation, but I don't want to turn back the clock and live in a world where people are afraid over these issues.

In my heart of hearts I want to believe that people voted for Trump, because of economics, and not because we are a country of hate filled bigots.

I want to believe that their motivation comes from trade agreements and not some creepy desire to overturn Roe VS Wade, but it's easy to be afraid.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I've been waiting eons for this day to arrive, or I suppose more accurately, for this day to end.

This election cycle has dragged on and on and left me weary.

I'm not at all interested in national politics, and I have no faith in the system.

Mark is terribly interested in politics and has a lot of passion for the system.

He gets cranky and ranty about all of the hubbub around politics, when I know in my heart of hearts that the whole thing is rigged, and that nothing short of a revolution would create real change.

When I say that, Mark gets even more cranky, so over time I have learned to keep it to myself.

When we first got together he would become irate when I said I didn't vote.

That I refused to participate in the sham of our political system.

He said that I was part of the problem.

I had been fairly content to be part of the problem, for a good long time before I met him, choosing to focus my energy, smugly, on these of greater value, like social service volunteerism and working in child care, things that in my opinion really change the world for the good.

When I had a son, and when George Bush started all the war, I voted, not that it really changed anything.

I am disappointed by the Obama Care, not that it's Obama's fault, the concept was ok.

We need to run the insurance industry out of town on a rail.

We need to tar and feather it.

We need to hang 'em high, boys.

All that old western movie stuff, we need to do that.

If we could have decent health care, and decent child care, and decent maternity leave, and decent education, then I might be less cynical.

If old people and mentally ill people could count on not eating cat-food from a cardboard box under a bridge, I might give a shit.

We can't count on a god damn thing, not even an epi-pen, for an allergy, if you haven't got the dough, not even a humble college education, if you are smart, which guts me.

I have worried about the dragging on wars, and all the heaps of money they cost, and all the good that could have been done instead.

It used to keep me up at night, the worry over the draft, over war.

Now I worry that my grown up child will not be able to realize his full potential, because we have such a ratty country that doesn't value people.  That what little is left for social services, is sprinkled over the lowest of the low, and everyone else can just go to hell, or work themselves to death.

I worry about not being about not being able to support myself in my old age, which has some to do with our political situation, but my vote isn't going to change much about that, one way or another.

So I imagine Mark will be glued to the TV tonight, pacing around with a 7-UP in his hand, while I knit some do-dad in the kitchen, listening to John Prine and planning a dinner party.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Self Serve

It's been a long week.

My troubled child has been trouble.

My sleep has been scant.

My work has been excessive.

I have a small cold and a frog in my throat.

Last night I left work thinking of strategies for behavior management after a stupid conversation with the Early Intervention lady left me enraged.

Those well intentioned folks really only have one speed.

Behavior challenges?

Feelings Cards

Family going through divorce?

Parent dies?

Loss of a pet?

Autism?

Leprosy? 

Feelings Cards

We are a pretty evolved and well trained staff, we coach children brilliantly on expressing feelings.

I have a lot of tools in my toolbox, when it comes to feelings.

Long story short, I was very tired and distracted.

When I fired up Sherman, a big electronic display popped up saying

DIMINISHED ENGINE PERFORMANCE!

Which startled me, and made me scared that we had another big car repair bill in our future (I am still paying off the last one).

As I drove away from the school, my nerves frayed and my mood soured and I felt sick inside, I also noticed I was dangerously low on gas. 

So I drove home up 52nd Street, and stopped at Duke, for cheap gas. 

Duke Street is part of old skanky Portland.  

Ungentrified and funky. 

The unpleasant gas fellow took my card wordlessly. 

I buy gas from him each week and each week his scowls at me as if I were doing something terribly wrong. 

He also never tells me when he is done pumping my gas, instead, does a little banging thing on the roof, the way you would spank the thigh of a horse to say "Giddyup!" 

Last night, he was even more sullen, and cranky than usual, and I pissed him off more than usual by dropping my credit card when I handed it to him.

I was feeling nervous, because it is one of those gas stations where the traffic flows both ways, with no rhyme or reason, and there was a guy in a pickup pointing in my direction waiting for my spot, who looked like he could  be kin to the attendant, same scowl.
  
Instead of going around and taking a spot in line behind me, he had pulled right up almost bumper to bumper with me, and looked down disapprovingly, as I waited for my gas. 

After a few minutes, the gas fellow walked by and handed me my credit card, and did a little tapping on the roof of the car, and the pick up guy, backed up and off to the side, which in my mind indicated that our time together was through and I could leave.  

So I drove off, slowly, because it was a jumbled mess of cars parked willy nilly, and as I did my little turn to get onto the side street, I hear the attendant banging on the passenger door and yelling, so naturally I stopped and asked him what the matter was. 

He screamed "GIVE ME YOUR DRIVER'S LICENCE!" 

No feelings card was necessary to know that he was furious, but I couldn't figure out why, until he said "YOU DROVE AWAY WITH MY PUMP!"

Which made me burst into tears and feel nauseated.   

So I parked the car, and went inside, where a slightly less weird guy behind the counter  made a copy of my insurance card and my driver's license.  

Then I went home and cried for two hours and worried. 

I worried for a very long time. 

I worried through dinner. 

I skipped TV to worry.

I chatted online with my friend Tamara, who assured me that I was not going to have a nervous breakdown, "because who would make the nametags for Thanksgiving?" which made me feel quite a bit better.

I worried a bit more, and wrote a haiku in German, which Rolf said was pretty correct, which made me feel even a little more better than the name tag thing. 

I worried though two cups of tea and once glass of Calms magnesium drink, and chatted with my friend Doug, who said that it was an accident and that he was sorry that I was upset, which helped me feel yet more better. 

Then I went to bed, and slept for two hours and work up really worried at midnight, about the gas station guys having a copy of my driver's license and was back to square one on the worry.  

Mark agreed to call them for me in the morning and talk to the manager, to see what the procedure is when you are a super big dummy and break the gas pump, because your are overly stressed and tired. 

Right in the middle of circle time today he phoned me to say that he had spoken with the manager of the gas station and that he was a nice guy.  

It seems that driving away with the pump still stuck in your car is not terribly uncommon and that the manager thinks he can just reattach it, and if not it's just a matter of buying a new part.  

Mark told the manager we would follow up in a few days to see where things were. 

I feel much better, but not completely better.






Thursday, October 20, 2016

I lay awake the other night, writing a brilliant essay in my head about open-ended art for young children (at least it seemed brilliant at 4:00am).

My goat had been gotten earlier in the week, when my boss sent me links to a gift project.

Some lovely Pinterest thing, that would require a lot of prep and supervision, and would spark very limited interest in my two and three year olds.

Oh they would be thrilled to paint, and glue, and cut, and glitter,


but to keep the project gift level beautiful, I would have to censor and monitor their work.

In the end the project would become my work, not theirs.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am craft queen.

I've never met a project I didn't love.

Glitter flows in my veins, but as an early childhood educator, I know that it is the process, not the product that is meaningful to young children, if you are doing it right.

There is a delicate dance of indifference and detachment the adult must do, to empower children to create, without preforming.   

That means you hand them the materials and step back.

You do not stand behind and ask

What IS it? 

or exclaim

G O O D   J O B !

You do not take their adorable little hands, press them in paint, and craft reindeer and seasonal fowl.

You resist the urge to stop them from mixing all the paint together into a giant shit colored blob, and your bite your tongue when the drawing veers suddenly from charming to rubbish.

I attended a very good training in winter (which is unusual) and the best take away was

The younger the child, the bigger the paper! 

The child that has not been molded by curated art projects, will paint for the joy of it.

She will paint with focus, and abandon.

She will be carefree, and careful and she will paint for herself.

At two, a child will not know what it is, because it is the act of doing which holds meaning, rather than the act of producing.

At three a typical child will tell a story about their painting, but the image on the page will not be representational, in the way we adults like.  The image will twist and turn and change with layers and scribbles and lines overlapping.

At four a child will draw and paint more concrete images, and will often make things for a recipient.

Two year olds are gleefully narcissistic, three year olds paint for themselves, unself-consciously, with delight.

When adults impose their values on the art of young children, the outcomes shift.

They often stop painting and drawing all together, or they become the children that ask me 100 times, "do you like it Miss Heidi?"

Do YOU like it ?

I ask them.

My boss is a nice lady, with a great understanding of all of these things, but parents really like all those paper-plate projects, the googly eyes, the hand-print turkey, the cotton-ball Santa.

On Wednesday we made autumnal wreaths from paper-plates, because I sometimes try to be a team player, even when it's against my nature.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scan feast

In early October, I did a Scandinavian themed dinner in honor of my friend Jackie and we ate a lot of meatballs and had a gay old time.

She wanted to make a yogurt cake that she had enjoyed in Iceland, and that alone seemed like a good enough reason to have a little party.

Her cake was fantastic, and was eaten ravenously before I thought to take a picture.

I made a gingerbread tart tatin with apples and gooey caramel that was fantastic.

Menu:
Swedish Meatballs
sweet and sour red cabbage
buttered egg noodles
cream gravy
assorted pickles
cucumber dill salad
Gingerbread tart
Skyrcake


I never use red, but it worked for this Swedish theme


ginger tart tatin 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

All the Fuck you signs (thinking of Catcher in the Rye)





Caring for people is both my job and my work.

I love the way that sounds

I didn't say it, or think it up.

My old lover and boss Jonathan did.

He said a lot of deep shit, which is what made me love him.

He had one of those magnetic personalities and a wit so sharp and devastating you could not help but be riveted to everything he said.

I was won over to the notion of service, way before I met Jonthan Feldman, in 1987.

I had been a bleeding heart liberal for many years before that, but when I spent time with a grown up that was both an intellectual and a do-gooder, who was not religious, my mind was blown.

I am dangerously susceptible to having my mind blown.

I love intelligent people.

If you are a good talker, witty, and funny, your chances with me are good.

Great.

Excellent.

I used to be much more hardcore.

I worked in the most dangerous sort of Domestic Violence program, with mandated women, who had lovers that were rapists and violent offenders.

I got a big rush from the success I had as a group facilitator.

I loved to be popular with the clients.

I loved to spout a bunch of trauma informed support and advocacy and make people love me the way I loved Jonathan.

When I got pregnant with Freyja, I could not longer listen to the stories of these mandated women.

I could not listen to them rattle off the details of their neglect and abuse of their minor children.

I could not, not judge.

So I bailed, and went back to caring for children.

Most of the people I care for now are healthy.

Their trauma is tiny.

Their hearts and minds are bubble wrapped and safe from harm.


Today I had a child that is going through a big family change.

The child is very angry.

Today it came out as

"FUCK YOU!"

"POOP" 

"POOP"

"Your are a dirty diaper, you are mean, you're a just a SKIP, I am SKIPPING YOU!"

I did everything right.

I redirected, I gave space, I offered choices, and when none of that was working, I moved the other children away, to a safe space and offered the child space to vent and scream and be angry.

The child followed me, because despite being POOP, I am also the safe person, and the person that can take the heaping pile of anger, as it builds up, and up, and up.

Then I catch when the pile topples.

Here is the thing with managing anger and big feelings, it is a delicate balance, because it can spiral and turn into abuse.

I had other children to consider, and so I called the parent to come pick up, when there was no clear stopping point coming.

By the time the parent arrived, the child was eating, asking me for seconds, delighted with the food.

It was hard.


Earlier in the morning there was a knock on the door.

It was a little old man, so I stepped outside to talk, locking the door behind me, which surely looked unfriendly to my visitor.

"Can I help you?"

"I'm Ron, I live in that white house, and I need to apologize, I put a note on that blonde lady's car and I feel bad, I asked her not to park there, because I used to have people leaving needles..."

"It's ok Ron, I am sure she understood your frustration, no big deal!"

"It's a big deal to me! I am working a 12 step program and I need to make amends!"

Ron proceeded to pull out a little cotton purse, and explain to me that he is bipolar, "I am manic depressive", and that sewing calms his nerves.

He gave me the purse for Ms. Teresa.

He told me that the lord is looking out for me, and that he is praying for me.

I thanked him for the bag.

It was nicely sewn, beautiful straight stitches.

I felt a bit gutted by Ron, with his sun hat, the huge jagged scar across his neck, his manic depression, and his prayer, and remorse.

Yesterday when I work up and checked my messages there was one from a stranger, that simply said "Fuck U"

Upon digging around on Facebook, I learned that the sender is a Jugalo and into monster trucks.

I blocked her, but then later in the day unblocked her and sent a reply that said

"Who are you, and why fuck me?"

I got no response.

All of the demands of the day, and the screaming and the weird external stuff made me decide to send the child home today.

I have to evaluate what is best.

All the time.

All the time, I have to make sure I am doing my best and giving the most, and sometimes that means giving up temporarily.











Saturday, September 24, 2016

a little off kilter

"50 words for every haiku"

was what my friend B said.

I have no idea who is keeping score, but I am mostly a straight shooter, mostly.


The cart was slow as fuck, and luckily the punk rock kid was working.

He and I share the same musical taste and can rock out during the doldrums.

We washed up, and dished through Sticky Fingers and bullshitted through a bit of Small Faces, and when it was time to leave, he hugged me goodbye and that was that.

I met up with a friend for grocery shopping and coffee.

I wanted to go to the hippie Co-op.

I wanted the fir scented soap.

I wanted the hippies and the cob building and the kombuche and the bins of bulk food.

What a shitty weird week.

I have no idea why it even felt that way.

My friend's dog had eaten garbage and peed around.

My dog had done no such thing.

I had no reason to complain.

My mother is sick.

She is scaring me by being sick.

Most people who are 48 are scared when their mothers get sick, because their mothers are old people, but my mother is not old. 

My mother is youngish, ish.

My mother scares me, because if something happened to her it would be too strange and complicated and hard.

That is one of the very odd things that the children of teen parents have to deal with, young parents that are oddly and complicatedly connected to you.

So my husband went shopping for cough medicine and dropped it off, while I drank coffee and tried to explain the complexities of my inner life, without seeming like too big of a self involved asshole. 

My trans friend R said that everything felt like s/he should not be bothered by the things that were bothering him/her, and I wanted to drive over and make a blanket fort in his studio and hug him for hours, except that would be weird because we are not really huggers. 

I mean I am not.

I am more of a laundress.

A washer of dishes.

An ironer of linens.


So it was that kind of terrible day, with complicated feels and zero blanket forts and sick mothers, and shitting dogs and tipless food carts, and husbands that purchase cold meds.







Friday, September 16, 2016

Pigface


I have been getting out a little more often lately, with my kids getting older and me feeling a bit more spry.

I was going to meet a couple of gals for happy hour, then my friend Dan posted pictures of BBQ from The People's Pig and I turn a U-turn and opted for DINNER!


Platter, smoked leg of lamb, St Louis dry rubbed ribs, cheese grits, potato salad, mild BBQ Sauce, in the background smoked fried chicken, smoked corn, cornbread, collard greens
Margaritas at the Wayside, I had grapefruit, my companion had a traditional


Thursday, September 15, 2016

I have to watch my classism.

Like all isms, it can just slip right out.

My preschool is in a sleepy little neighborhood, right on the edge of unincorporated Portland, right where the rural meets the low rent urban.

Where the sidewalk ends, literally.

Twenty years ago this part of town, just five miles from my urban home, was another world,  Aunt Ruth lived out this way, and it felt rural, rough and a little unsafe.

Gentrification has brought the city fast and furiously, and the neighbors are not any happier about it than I am about New Yorkers moving in and tearing down old houses in inner SE.

The preschool is beautiful.

It has been lovingly and thoughtfully remodeled.

The yard is clean and fenced with charming cedar fencing.

It looks classy and tasteful.

Our neighbor has three monster trucks and an RV with a tarp.

He frequently places free things in front of his ramshackle ranch house.

He stands outside with his companions saying "FUCK" and "GOD DAMN IT!"

His children skateboard in the street.

He is terrible, deeply and personally disturbed by people parking on the shoulder of the road.

He is terribly, deeply and personally disturbed by me parking in front of the school, rather than in the driveway.

Several times a week he accosts one of my preschool parents and rants and raves at them about the street parking.

He tells them he OWNS the grass across from his house.

He does not.

His understanding of ownership comes from when the city added sewer service to the part of town, and charged all the residents to hook it up.

In his mind, that gives him ownership.

He is a scary man, a bully, with unwashed hair, and a scowl.

He made two of my mothers cry.

Yesterday, in an ill conceived moment of friendliness I greeted him, on my way inside.

He was standing on the street in his bathrobe.

"Why don't you park in your driveway?"

"Because I don't want to be trapped in the driveway at the end of the day, while parents are chatting and strapping their children in to carseats."

Why
Why
Why

Our circular conversation went on and on until,

"I will park where I want on this PUBLIC STREET!"

came out of my mouth.

I turned on my heels and left him stewing.

I never park in front of his house, and no one else does either.

He once told the owner of this house that it's "more mine than yours, because I mowed the lawn while it was bank owned!"

So clearly he is delusional.

Even so, I don't want to judge him, I just want him to leave me alone.

My clients use the driveway, and occasionally park very considerately in front of the school.

I want my rage over his shitty behavior to focus on the behavior, and not on his RV, or his trucks with the gunracks, or his lack of social skills.

It's hard.

All of that stuff turns him into a punchline for some folks.

I hope to keep it about the facts.




I got a very lovely message in my inbox this morning from an acquaintance apologizing that her daughter would not be accepting a job I had connected her with.

I was surprised, because beyond pointing her in the right direction, I had done relatively little to help, and I certainly am not one to hold a grudge, at least not over something like that, after doing HR for years and year in the child care field, I know that people come and go, and go and come back again and that is the way of our work.

She thanked me for helping.

I like helping.

My husband calls me The Concierge 

I live to connect services and people and gifts and food and jobs and need.

I like to think of myself more as a FIXER.

I see myself as Tom from the Godfather, or Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction.

Sometimes though, I realize I am a terrible know it all.

I try hard to be a good listener, but I also like results. 

One friend kvetches endlessly about first world problems, relentless tail chasing, and I long to say
SHADUP, 
in my best Three stooges voice, but instead I offer an endless supply of good ideas.

I come by my know it all, smarty pantness honestly.

Both of my parents are Fixers.

Wiseguys

Brainiac types

All my grandparents were self sufficient and strong.

They could all do stuff, make stuff, get through things.

I was brought up to be both helpful and aloof.

To set myself apart from the ones that are falling apart.

Fall apart in private.

Keep that shit in cheque.

Waiting in the wings with a big net to catch, repair and release all the broken and lost life has to offer.

When I expressed my fatigue at being the boss, right before taking my current humble job, my friend Don said "But isn't bossing people around what you are really good at?"





Wednesday, August 31, 2016

School has always started the day after Labor Day in Oregon, just as you put your straw boaters, and white buck shoes away for winter, right up until last year, when it didn't. 

It started uncouthly the last week of August. 

Willy nilly

Out of turn.

I must have been in some kind of fit of denial, because I scheduled Freyja's orthodontist appointment for August 30th, at 10:00am as if that were a reasonable thing to do for a child that was starting MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Thank goodness I am married to Father Of The Year

He went to the orientation for middle school.

He knew damn well she would not be free at 10:00am on the 30th.

I often feel that because I nearly DIED giving birth to both of my children, and have sewn all the Halloween costumes, that it is Mark's unstated duty to deal with the first day of school.

Needless to say, we rescheduled the ortho for later in the month.

I always, always, always work early in the mornings, and September is my busy time.

So Mark does the first day of school snipe hunt.

Mark is uniquely suited to this duty because he secretly longs to be a stay at home parent.

He lives for meetings and paperwork. 

I live for coffee, and routine.

The first day of school is chaotic and messy.

I don't like to see my children upset.

This is how we handled things.

I went to work before my family woke.

Maxwell (who goes to a civilized Oregonian charter school that starts like normal people, the day after Labor Day) walked Freyja to her bus stop, waited for the LATE bus, put her on the bus and went home.

Freyja arrived late, because the bus was LATE.

   -Being a Capricorn, she had an anxiety attack over the threat of a tardy slip.

   -She then went to school all day.

   -Got on the wrong bus (the close, but no cigar bus, that dropped her about a half mile from home).

Mark called home to see how things were going, only to discover that our very babe in the woods girl had not gotten off the bus to meet her punk rock brother and his band.

Maxwell, worried sick about his missing sister, sent Zach P.  and Zak L. off toward the middle school looking for the lost girl.

Rolf, upon arriving home with Pearl Bakery bread for a celebratory snack, joined the search.

As four greasy gentlemen scoured the mean streets of East Tabor, Freyja made her way home by cutting through the park, just in time to meet her frantic father, at 5:00pm

I walked in at 6:00 to find my baby eating baguette and jam to the muffled sounds of death metal coming from the basement.

Mark was seated talking Freyja down.

Rolf was serving food.

As I got up to date, I could hear that Freyja's biggest concern was over the late slip.

"Do you want me to call them? Because I will totally call them, you don't need to worry, there will be no late slip.I will burn that shit down"

"Mommy is not burning anything down"

a smile cracks

"you know I would if you needed me to though,  right?"

The mood lightens

Long haired boys emerge from the basement for bread.

Many hugs and commiserations are given. People admit to peeing of pants, getting lost, crying. 

Mark texts me, even though we are in the same room.

"middle school is OVERWHELMING!"


  




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Backup Pants

I gave my bosses daughter a ride home this evening.

When she got into the passenger seat, she sat on a pair of jeans.

"Oh just toss those into the backseat." I told her.

"Those are my backup pants."

She looked at me like she didn't know the importance of backup pants.

"You know, in case your pants rip."

I had been wearing my favorite pair of threadbare jeans this week and knew full well they could go at any time.

The ass had been worn through for years, covered with a series of gold zigzag thread and patches.

It was really just a matter of time before the inner thighs gave way.

Working with children had instilled the importance of backup clothing in me long ago.

I carry an outfit in my bag, and wetwipes in the car, along with water, chains, oil, jumper cables and granola bars.

I have an extra car-seat in my trunk.

And a fire extinguisher.

Band-aids.

Hair ties.

Mouthwash.

My bag typically has underpants and leggings, snacks, and wipes, CPR mouthguard, plastic barf bag, fountain pen, change, sunblock lipbalm.

I have bailed out many children and few adults in my life.

When I got home and checked my Facebook, I saw that my hilarious, smart friend Monica had written a poem on backup dresses.

Monica rides the bus.

Her struggle is real.

It made me feel good to see that other people are out there prepared.

Once, when Mark and I were traveling to Mexico, I used the restroom in the LA airport, and some rude, nasty lady had peed all over the floor.

Unfortunately, I didn't notice this until I went to pull up my pants and noticed that my hems were WET.

Thank goodness I had backup pants, a plastic bag and wipes.

When I was a child my mother once turned my shirt backward, to take advantage of a Free color, 8X10 photo special at Grant's Variety store in Tigard.

The front of my shirt was covered in red sucker juice, but the back was perfectly clean.

There is a lovely color photo of me wearing what looks like a boatneck top, but is in reality, a backward t-shirt.

Mom may not have carried back up gear, but by golly she knew how to cope with a mess in a pinch, and that is really what this boils down to.

Cover your ass, literally. 








Monday, August 8, 2016

I went to get my roots touched up Friday, but my regular hair dresser was out.  The woman that was in, seemed offended that I wanted to wait, so I said how bad could it be to myself and sat down in her chair.
She was a bright and cheerful gal I'd seen many times in the many years that I've been coming to the salon.
A sort of second string player, waiting to get her big chance, to get off the bench.
The salon is run by a Vietnamese woman, and I have never seen another white person in there, except for folks I send, like my mom and my friend Marta.
I like them because they use a straight-razor, instead of scissors, which works well on my thick hair.
Xien the owner started coloring my hair in 1999 when Maxwell was a baby, then Kim took over, when she retired.
They both do amazing work.
The gal I saw on Friday did not do amazing work.
Instead of a fine weave of ash blonde, I had bold strips and stripes of honey yellow and Beach Barbie BLONDE.

It was not ideal.

I went home and calmed myself.

Mark said that it wasn't

THAT BAD

Not that bad if you are trying to get a part as an aging prostitute on Barney Miller, perhaps, but in every other scenario, it was that bad.

I worked my food cart shift Saturday, feeling like each customer was silently judging me.

When I got off a bit early, I raced to the salon, and found Kim, who wordlessly sat me down and and began weaving in darker blonde sections, followed by toner.

An hour and a half later, I walked out, hair dripping wet, because I was hosting a dinner party at 6:00.

It's still a little too light for my taste, but it's much better than it was.

Thank goodness.

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

Noodles

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

Pfffft!

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

JUST DON'T DO IT!!

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.

Loudly.

Shamelessly.

While I sate silently at the kitchen table.

My mother said

"Mom made dinner and desert every day."

Every

day.

a

cake

a

pie

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!"

"GET THE FUCK OFF 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. 

Ever

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. 




Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easterly

When I was a child, Easter meant bonnets and dresses and maryjanes. 

We aren't religious, so there is no reason for church clothing, and this year, I have been working both Saturday and Sunday at the food cart, so I didn't even do a dinner. 

On Friday, I happened to think of eggs, so Freyja and I tinted a few, six, with what we had on hand- beets, turmeric, cabbage.

And that was that. 

Mark and Freyja went to see a play, I worked the cart and made decent tips, despite the hail. 

Food Cart Easter lady


5-7-5

I belong to this absurd online haiku group, an anti-poetry band of misfits, who write silly haiku about found objects.  In January, in a fit of despair and existential angst, I invited a group of the Portland  haiku folks over for dinner, and we had a fabulous time  Every single one of us had social anxiety and bad nerves, so it made for a fantastically sensitive and festive evening.




liver pate, cucumber salad, deviled eggs


haiku PIE, with a not so subtle nod to Portland's free sidewalk couches, which are sofa king gross!




and then I did it AGAIN, in March! Ten amazing creative women came for dinner and laughed.  I think we forgot to talk about haiku, but we laughed and laughed and had a fabulous time.