Saturday, December 02, 2006

Half baked day

Today's theme, partially done projects.

Spent a few hours tiling today. Got five field tiles down and about a dozen edging tile (aka bullnose) on the back wall. When the edging is grouted, I can push my desk against the wall and bring in a bit more stuff. Tile saw needs to be fired up first, though. I get to see if I remember how to score and break properly as one of my very first cuts. Geh. Rory made mortar for me and buttered tile to help things move faster, and he put in a shelf above my door. I'd love to get more done tomorrow, but I doubt I'll be up for it after work. Maybe instead I'll write! I didn't finish Nanowrimo. Too many distractions, too many disasters and too many zero days where I really could have put in at least 500 words if I'd tried. Ah well. Better luck next year. I'm motivated to get it done because I very much want to finish my edit on Masks and get it out to agents.

The wind is howling outside tonight. I have no idea what the weather is supposed to do the next few, but I'm sure it's going to be interesting. Hopefully not too interesting as I get to return to work tomorrow for a full day.

I'm really missing the covered porch today. I had a lot of hopes for it over the winter, having tropical plants in there and art stuff and setting it up so that things could be a little more organized around here. The downstairs area is downright oppressive. But as the office gets done and has more shelves added and as I toss out things that we no longer need (or are outright garbage) it'll help a lot. Then, when it's done, maybe on fair weather days in February I can get back to work on the dream porch.

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's For Science

[Once again my other blog at is down. ]

I love my husband.

Occasionally he asks me "why are people nervous around me?" or "why is admin so uncomfortable with me?" After all, he is incredibly dependable, honest, extremely hard-working. He's loved by his coworkers. He's almost always the first to arrive on the scene when there's a call for back up, even if he's at the opposite end of the extensive complex where he works. He keeps the work environment as safe as possible. He has such a way with mentally disturbed people, that he's routinely called to handle someone, because if anyone else tried to deal with that person, chances are there would be a big fight, and injuries.

The other day he told me that one of the road officers confided in him during one of their training sessions. He let Rory know that if he ever 'went bad' they were just going to shoot him on sight.

So this morning he asked me if, after he retires, he ought to spend about ten years being a bad guy. "It would be for science," he said, batting his eyes at me. "I'd be like the Joker, only more subtle. It would be funny."

He and I had discovered over our many years together, the Universe primarily exists to be funny. He'd be helping it out.

He fails to point out that it would be bad guys who would have things happen to them, not innocents, which makes him more like Batman, only creepier. Batman and Joker's love child? But that would be wrong. Sort of.

Anyway, he still wonders why he makes people nervous.

I sure do love him.

By the way, I forbid him to go bad. He has to be a good guy until the end. Then he can be bad for maybe a little bit, just locally before he heads off into realms unknown.

This is my primary purpose in the Universe; to forbid badness in the Rory. It's a lonely job, but someone has to do it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Beautiful Faith

Rory and I pulled up to the LJC Feed store at 5:15. Amid the nursery selections and shelves of bagged feed, a double glass door peered darkly from under deep eaves, marred by the ugly, orange "CLOSED" sign.
"Gah! I thought they were open until 6!" I gripped the Bruiser's steering wheel, the Bruiser that was running on a half tank of gas (actually, two quarter tanks) and whose loud purr proclaimed how happily it devoured heaps of gas and how it would gladly return back up the hill, devouring even more. "Can you see the hours on the door?" I asked Rory, morbidly curious.
Meanwhile a red pickup truck was pulling out. It drew up alongside and the driver's window rolled down. The driver made motions, a tall, dark, lean man. I rolled my window down after a blank moment of 'is he going to ask me a question I can't answer or does he want something or am I doing something wrong?' taking up valuable response time. I'm sure I gaped at him, open-mouthed the entire time.
"You need something in the store?"
I admit my hearing is bad enough that I had to simultaneously reparse the sounds he made, interpreting a sentence, while trying to figure out what was going on. Rory was way ahead of me. He leaned over, which would normally put him in my lap, but in the Bruiser he was still several miles away. "No, that's all right."
Comprehension struck me and I gave the driver my best grateful grin. "I guess we'll just have to come back tomorrow."
"Because if it's something important I can get it real quick. It's no trouble."
"Well, we're out of rabbit food," I admitted.
"But we can just give them some greens to get them by until tomorrow," Rory assured him.
"It's no trouble," the driver assured us, and he parked his truck again.
I maneuvered the Bruiser into a parking spot, hopefully not looking too much more idiotic than a four year old trying to steer a shopping cart, and we followed him into the garage. He chit chatted cheerfully as we looked for the rabbit feed, to no avail. They had the small bags in there, but the big bags were inside the building.
"Sometimes they leave this door unlocked," he said, trying the door into the main building. It wasn't.
"That's all right," Rory said. "We'll just come back tomorrow."
"I have a key to the main building," he said. "It's no trouble."
Warm with guilt, we followed him to the glass doors and he let us in. We located the bag in short order, and the man hefted it. Rory got out some cash, reading the price. $6.99. "How about ten dollars," I offered. "That should cover the tax and everything."
"Naw," the man said, carrying the feed out. "You just come in tomorrow and pay."
Rory made small Irish hospitality protesty noises (they're very cute.)
"We do have to come back for alfalfa hay," I said. "We'll definitely do that."
"But--" Rory continued to make incomplete prostesting noises, waving the $10 bill.
"This is why I wanted to own a feed store," the man said.

Loyal customers for life. I didn't even have to drive in the next day--I didn't want to pick up hay in the rain so I called in, hoping I could say or do something and save starting up the Bruiser. It turned out they could take my credit card info over the phone, after I explained the circumstances. "And could you write a thank you note for me for the guy? I think he said he was the owner."
"What did he look like? Tall? Dark hair?"
"Lean?" I added.
"That's Gordon."
Thank you, Gordon. You'll be seeing us at the store often.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Escape from Blackberry Manor

I searched the entire house, top to bottom, looking in all the best cat spots and some of the less likely ones: inside cupboards, on top of narrow shelves, in the pantry though the door had been closed the entire time since the last time I'd seen Wizard. I searched when I first got up about 6am, and again after the kids had left about 7:30, and again, and again … About 12:30 I was starting to really wonder what had gotten into him. His food hadn't been touched since I filled it at 6am, he was overdue for his meds, and I had looked *everywhere* a dozen times, including making Rory climb up into my office closet and, using a mirror and a flashlight, checking in the space between ceiling and floor where Claire can squeeze in and hunt for mice. Still no Wizard.
So Rory goes and checks to see what the dogs are barking at now, and Beast is acting more goofy than usual, bounding about, tongue lolling. And then Rory saw him, Wizard, tucked into a tidy cat package near the juniper bushes looking very put upon. I don't know how Rory noticed him, the sandy tabby settled in a spot between the pale grass and the dark shrubs, camoflaging himself exquisitely.
The entire time I think Beast was thinking my gawd, how does Lassie do it? I've been acting like an idiot all morning trying to tell them the cat is out here and do they pay attention? No, they wander around the house, calling the cat's name. Grrr!
And of course Rory, not Beast, is dubbed the hero as Rory puts on his shoes and scoops the cat up. After a thorough examination, Wizard is dubbed sound (though now he has dirty paws from his adventure,) is given his antibiotics and deposited in front of his food, which he proceeds to devour.
It's likely that Wizard did what no one would expect him to do--leap through a hole in the once-screened screen door while Rory was taking out the trash, landing himself in dog territory. And he'd been there all night. I don't know if Beast's constant circling and inquiries as to whether kitty wants to play or if kitty wants a bath or if kitty would like to play chase kept Wizard inside the yard. It might have as easily been the fact that Wiz is not in any shape to climb a 5' chainlink fence and Beast always runs to the gates when there's even the slightest activity there, and those are the only spots where there's enough space for a cat to slip through.
I shiver to think of what might have happened if Rory hadn't seen Wizard there. His wounds are healing but they're still easily openable, with just thin scabs and lots of red. He also needs to finish his course of antibiotics.
He has another appointment in a month to have his second immunization shot, and at that time he'll get microchipped. It can't be soon enough for me. We have had two calls about the ad in the paper, but one was for a large, older cat and one was for a female. Maybe his owner is looking for him, but so far, looks like he's found home.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Doomed I say, doomed!

It seems that Jestablog on is toast for now. Hopefully it'll be back online soon--I haven't finished capturing all my old entries and I really don't want to lose them all. Not that they're all that, just that I put a lot of time and thought and effort and I'm sure it will be published in its entirety when I'm fabulously famous. Thesis students will pour over the entries for insight into my creative life and secretly write sexual stories about me.


Wizard follows me around the house, mewing. About the only time he isn't mewing now is when he's asleep or being petted. I'm not entirely sure what he wants. His original owners? He doesn't seem to want outside, surprisingly, though I imagine if I opened the door for him he'd go out. The good news is (besides the fact that he has a soft voice--what a blessing! We have another winner in the peace and quiet contest!) that his leg is healing really well. His foot is almost normal-sized now and although he's delicate with it, he can put his full weight on it. He even made a few short jumps today. Blogeois sent me some pics in email (I still haven't found my camera's battery recharger, grr!) I'll be sharing pics here if I can get photobucket to be nice to me.

My pretty boy, Wizard aka Wiz aka Great Wizard aka G. Wiz aka Pinball Wizard

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I am Ramen King, here me roar!

I also would like to repost (since right after I posted it, the original Jestablog started giving everyone connection failures) The Positional Vote. Please vote for your favorite orientation. I'm hoping I won't have to change the hanging wire orientation, but I suspect I'm doomed.

Orientation One:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Orientation Two:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Orientation Three:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yes, there is one more orientation but you won't sell me on that one.

So, cast yer votes me hearties! The final decision has to be made by Nov. 10, 2006 so no more voting after that, I mean it! (Does anyone want a peanut?)

And please let me know if my attempts to add images to this site are an appalling failure. I'll try something else if they are.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Vet, G. Wiz, and the seduction of a padawan owner

I know, I know, I only ever come here when my regular blog isn't working. I'm such a bad blogger.

So, to update those of you who read this blog and not the other, we recently captured a stray cat that's been wandering about the area, thinking it might be a Bengal that someone had lost and posted a notice about at our local vet's. He's not a Bengal, but he is gorgeous, and today, just 'cause, I did a very, very naughty thing.

Well, only slightly naughty.

I took him to the vet for an exam as he had a very swollen hind foot, and to test for HIV/Leukemia because that would be a problem for our other cats. The clinic was a bit of a madhouse because two people had called in sick (probably with the same thing I'm keeping my son home for--come on, people, germ theory has been around a long time. Keep it to yourselves, for pity's sake like our good local vets and my (admittedly glad to stay home) child.) I had a longer wait than usual, and so Wizard, aka Great Wizard aka G. Wiz (the cat isn't even ours technically and he already has three names) and I had some quality time in which he expressed his appreciation for being let out of the Cat Carrier of Ultimate Evil (TM) (aka C.C.U.E.) by purring loudly and butting his head against my arm.

Finally the vet comes in and we talk while he examines Wiz. No, he's not even 'lightly' altered. No, he's not Bengal, or pureblood anything. He hasn't been well kept in the past. He has a broken tooth. No, the leg is not broken--he's been bitten repeatedly on the foot, leg and flank by something cat-sized, probably a fight. He may have been hit by a car, though obviously not hard enough to cripple him, or he may have been thrown out of a car at some point. He'll need antibiotics, and probably will need to be wormed--really no use in spending the money for a fecal when it's likely he picked up all kinds of things from living wild, though there aren't tapeworm fragments in obvious evidence in his feces. (There was a tiny bone, though, which was kinda kewl.) The vet took him away to shave the hair off the inside of his leg for a clean blood draw for the test. When he returned, the vet began luring me to the Dark Side.

"It would be very simple for you to just leave him here, and we can alter him today," the vet said.
"Well, we don't know if someone might not claim him," I said. "I'm planning on asking whoever might claim him to pay for any services you provide today, as it's to the cat's general welfare and it's not really out of bounds to have a worming done and all that, and the tests are necessary for us to have him at home with our cats."
"Let's have a look at those results," he said.
Five minutes later ...
"He's negative for both Feline Leukemia and Feline HIV," the vet said cheerfully, flashing me a brilliant Dark Side smile. "You know, I don't think anyone is going to claim this cat. It's a typical tabby, and no one did the responsible thing for him and altered him. I doubt anyone is going to come looking for this cat."
"And," I noted aloud, feeling guilty, "if I did have him altered and someone came to claim him, they might be angry, but it is for the cat's welfare and best interest, and if they still wanted him, at least he'd have that going for him."
"He wouldn't be getting into as many fights," the vet added. "I highly recommend the procedure. And while he's under anesthetic, we can irrigate his wounds."
Oh yeah, I think. And if I wait until later, when it's obvious no one wants him, to have this done, then he'll need a second course of antibiotics for the neutering--this way the antibiotics will cover both the neutering *and* the bite wounds.
And the bite wounds, the more I look at the cat, need to be dealt with. He has a sore on one of his pads, and hair coming off his swollen foot, and the more we run our hands over him, the more scabs and bumps we feel. He would *probably* get better on his own, but the swelling ... the swelling on his poor foot worries me. It's like a sausage, and he doesn't like putting weight on it. Even with gentle compression, the cat growls a brief warning at the vet.
It's a big step, but oh the temptation. Wizard isn't helping, gazing at me with big gold-green eyes, purring deep in his throat.
"I have to think about this," I said, wishing I could call Rory at work, but I know he's training today and he'll be out of easy reach. The only way I could justify pulling him out of the class is with an emergency. This is not an emergency, not something I could justify putting a halt to an entire class of law enforcement and corrections professionals on hold at a rate of a gillion dollars an hour so that I could agonize over the welfare of a tabby cat with my husband.
"I'll go put some paperwork together," the vet said.
The vet left me alone with Wizard for three minutes (bastard!) and all the while Wizard purred and preened the air and gazed at me lovingly. When the vet returned, I caved, caved like a Ding Dong that had all the cream filling licked out of it, licked out by this damned beautiful, loving, adorable cat.
"Let's do it," I said.
The vet nodded knowingly.

I'll be bringing Wizard home today at 4:30 if all goes well. Here I am, biting my nails with worry over this cat that came from who knows where for whatever reason--and I feel good. He's going to be all right.

I did the right thing.

Even though it's probably terribly wrong, it's right.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting down to business

Instead of writing this morning, I've been bad and taking quizzes. Every morning for about a week now I've let myself be distracted for a bit and then I go take a nap. Change of seasons dragging me down? Maybe. Staying up too late and getting up on insufficient sleep? Most likely a contributing factor.

But my quiz results got me to chuckle:

You are OS X. You tend to be fashionable and clever despite being a bit transparent.  Now that you've reached some stability you're expecting greater popularity.
Which OS are You?


You are 32% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?

I suspect I should maybe have gotten a higher score on the white and nerdy test, mainly because I am white and isn't that 50% of what they're testing, but also because I struggled with the second of two questions that formed a series and I chose the less nerdy/white route on a technicality.

The first question was, do you like Earl Grey Tea. I used to, but between the caffeine content and now being acclimated to herbal teas, the idea of drinking Earl Grey makes me recoil. However, I still love the fragrance. I mark No, though I feel a bit guilty because in some ways I really do like it, even though I can't drink it, and I used to drink a lot of it. The second question was, did you recognize that the previous question was a Picard reference? And there the struggle was born. Now that the test had mentioned it, oh yeah, I do know that Picard drank Earl Grey, hot. But I didn't realize at the time that they asked the first question that they were referencing Picard with that. I marked No, because it didn't occur to me on my own, but should I have marked yes and acknowledged that branded somewhere in my brain is the useless character-defining tag line (a classic writer's technique, btw, though sometimes it's done so badly it makes me laugh. Or cringe) "Earl Grey, hot." ? Isn't the point of the question to reveal the fact that I carry with me, always, a nerdy white cultural factoid? I know that honesty is a fine trait, and much admired, especially when handled with discretion. However, I suspect that in my attempts to be accurate, true-to-self (and thereby avoid being accused of slanting a made-up test in order to get a particular result )(Oh dear, what if I end up a Microsoft platform?) (and who would be accusing me of slanting the results on a made-up test anyway?) I end up wasting a lot of time torturing myself about inconsequentials when I should be WRITING.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I can't really bring myself to grieve too much on the page, in public. But I needed to put something here to commemorate this day.

I miss you already, Andy.
I've got a candle lit for you.
I hope ... so much,
But that hope has no answer.
It just sits, not disappointed, not fulfilled
In limbo, not quite hell
I'm so tired
I don't want to sleep
I, I, I ... this shouldn't be about me.
But there's no you within reach
I can't decorate you with my care
(Banners that say I love you)
The care falls to my feet
Shredded, rumpled
From trying to hang it where you can see
I have to pick it all up
And carry it around
Hoping you can still read it
And that it comforts you

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Meeting in Hell

I went to my second worst meeting ever. It missed first place because the worst had all the problems of this meeting *plus* I had some data I needed at the worst meeting and they skipped me over, so at the end I had to pipe up and say hey, my department needs this info please!

They scheduled three hours of meeting. I thought no way will this meeting go three hours. Ha. I was such a fool.

People went on and on. People had no clue what they needed or wanted to say, so they talked about what they had done and what they planned on doing, in great detail. I wondered, between bouts of contemplating social suicide and holding in giggles while the person next to me wondered aloud 'why doesn't he shut the fuck up?' if the chair, who ought to be in control of the meeting, thought that filling three hours of agenda free meeting was a good thing. If this was a pleasant way for her to spend an entire afternoon. If she liked the meeting chairs, found them comfy and homey, if she didn't have a stomach to grumble and growl for a meal.

I don't contemplate my navel much. More interesting to contemplate people. Wondering how it could be that someone could appear to listen very intently, and then say "What?" Not once. Several times. Soon a chorus of people volunteered themselves to repeat things for her. I wondered why I didn't wisely arrive late, like the chair, or not show up at all, like the asst. chair. I did learn valuable things, but I wondered if I might not have learned these same things in email. As it was, half the info I wanted to gather was not available because the people with that info didn't make the meeting. Most of all I wondered why the person running the meeting thought that calling on people for reports was the sum of her management responsibility. I thought that the lack of attendence might be an indication that people found the meetings a waste of precious time.

I also thought fondly of my friend who pressed a can of ginger ale into my hand as I left to go to the meeting. The coolness and sugar helped me survive the first half of the meeting. Had I managed to ration that ginger ale so that it lasted the entire meeting, perhaps I would have ... nah. I would have still wondered if slipping quietly into a coma might not have been a blessing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Songs in my head

My other blog is down again, so here I am. I shouldn't think of this as exile, though. Maybe more like a vacation opportunity, the kind where your flight has been cancelled and you agree to be bumped and spend two days in a foreign country with only the clothes on your back.

A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!
(Paul Simon, from You Can Call Me Al)

We're hoping to get out for my daughter's birthday. Our last several vacations were fun, but they weren't very ... natural. Much more touristy. So we're going to eastern Oregon and bum around in caves, hike, maybe do some fishing, be outside critters. We haven't been to Eagle Crest so I'll try to get us a room, but if I can't, we can camp. I love camping. During the season in the Pacific Northwest the campgrounds are so overrun, though, it's an uncertain thing to be able to get a spot without a reservation. This summer we'll go wild camping, though. No facilities, no other campers twenty feet away from us, only the woods and what we bring. Just drive somewhere beautiful. Sometimes we talk about if we had only six months to live, what would we do. Our answer has always been, just the same as now, we love our lives. But lately we haven't had time to even go to a park. Well, we haven't made time. Visiting a friend with acreage in the woods recently, I got another taste of that beauty I used to tromp in as a child so often. This time we're going to the desert where my husband grew up, the clean air, the clear skies, scent of sage and juniper and volcanic dust, away away from traffic with people driving like angry monkeys in 2000 pound death machines and grocery store politeness.

You can spend all your time making money
You can spend all your love making time
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?

And when you’re looking for your freedom
(nobody seems to care)
And you can’t find the door
(can’t find it anywhere)
When there’s nothing to believe in
Still you’re coming back, you’re running back
You’re coming back for more

So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time

(Eagles, Take It to the Limit)

My dear friend, after years of struggling, finally had her baby. Talking with her and her husband on the phone last night, it struck me how radically different people occasionally end up with the same experience. There are core human traits, and I don't imagine I would get along well with someone who didn't have at least one of them.
As glorious as having a new baby is, it's a lot of work on less sleep than you're used to. Babies have different cries for different needs, but each one vocalizes differently so it takes time to learn. Not to mention those different cries aren't as easy to distinguish in a newborn as they are in an older baby. You have to just take it one night at a time in baby boot camp. Your life changes so radically, it's unreal. Life without a baby, even when it's hard, is relatively calm. Adults reason with each other, talk things out, make compromises, and ask when they need something. Babies don't reason. They don't wait. They demand, and you have no choice but respond to those demands as given. You can't train an infant to only cry when it really, really needs something or to stop crying until you can get there or to sleep in or hold its bladder until you can get more diapers. But the baby grows up, becomes more self-sufficient, less demanding, more giving, and that's exquisite, to share the world with someone you've raised who has your spouse's eyes and your nose and an emotional connection unequal to any other in the world. I love my children, and as hard as it's been, through the autism diagnosis, problems at school, late nights and early mornings, I wouldn't be as happy without them. I don't understand why I didn't feel lonely before, without children in my life. It's hard to explain. Rory and I did great on our own, but it's not the same sort of togetherness as it is with a family of our own.

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold

(Sting, Fields of Gold)

It's past time I get out to the barn and deal with goats, chickens and all their ilk. I think I'm of that ilk too. I love the pasture and the sunshine, the scent of alfalfa and grain, the garden and warm wind and clean water with no ice. I like eating blackberries fresh from the vine, that dark, rich sweetness, and look up with curiosity at the barn swallows as they swoop through the narrow opening into the barn to their nests. Scooter especially likes watching them, craning his head over his back. It's a good life. Moving here has been one of the best things for me, for the children, and hopefully my husband too. I love this. Here, you can really feel the wind.

The wind is the whisper of our mother the earth
The wind is the hand of our father the sky
The wind watches over our struggles and pleasures
The wind is the goddess who first learned to fly
The wind is the bearer of bad and good tidings
The weaver of darkness, the bringer of dawn
The wind gives the rain, then builds us a rainbow
The wind is the singer who sang the first song
The wind is a twister of anger and warning
The wind brings the fragrance of freshly mown hay
The wind is a racer, a wild stallion running
The sweet taste of love on a slow summer’s day
The wind knows the songs of the cities and canyons
The thunder of mountains, the roar of the sea
The wind is the taker and giver of mornings
The wind is the symbol of all that is free
So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers
Follow her summons when she calls again
In your heart and your spirit let the breezes
Surround you
Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind

(John Denver, Windsong in it's entirety)

Monday, March 06, 2006


Miscellaneous stuff.

Ostara is getting closer. It's a day of fertility, an egg day, a bunny day, a day to celebrate the gradual lengthening of the days. One fun thing about being pagan is that the holy days fall at regular, predictable intervals so you don't have to wait too long to party. One tough thing about being pagan is that the holy days fall at regular intervals so you don't have much of a break between holidays. There's always something to clean up house for. In my case, this is a good thing to get me off my butt, or the house would be a year-round disaster instead of a wave function of near and falling away from disaster.

Tomorrow is our tax day. I get to see what we made, what we lost, what we'll gain, and what we'll have to eat. It's all good. I'm glad we have someone else do them simply because I want all the tax breaks we can get and I could see it taking days and days to sort through everything. And I'm not sure my poor machine can handle the latest tax program. Poo.

This time around there's been less rain than I remember in March. It's easy to daydream about big crops and a long growing season. It's as much the rain and soaked soil that keeps me from planting early as it is the rain. In my mind the snow peas cover their trellises, and the artichokes form dense, fern-like mounds with several huge chokes on long stems. I see the grape arbor up and covered in grape leaves, large clusters of grapes dangling underneath. I see tromboncino squashes, and walking egyptian onions, columns of brussel sprouts and the rhubarb taking over a whole row. A random assortment of flowers spring up from a huge bed, seeds from last year shaken up together, scattered and covered up first by soil and then by a net to keep the birds off until the seeds have germinated. Stalwart corn. Rampant tomatoes. Twelve foot sunflowers stalking through the countryside, creating havoc and panic wherever they go! Mwa ha ha!

The Beaverton Art Media store is out of yupo. It's outrageous. Can't they see that people need their yupo? I'm wringing my hands at the terrible yupo shortage. Roz wonderfully gave me four sheets of the precious stuff. I refuse to hoard it. I'll paint on it, and then I'll go on yupo raids.
Or maybe just the next time I end up downtown I'll pick some up.
Yupo is an artificial paper for watercolor. It has the unique ability to both hold the color on the surface (after it's dry) in a permanent fashion while also wiping clean if you wet the watercolor again. So you can do things like make random patterns with a big puddle of watercolor, dry it, and then cut out a shape around the random area. Also, if you really mess an area up, you can clean it back down to almost pure white, and you can, if it's totally not salvageable, wash the paper under the tap and start over. I have more fun with yupo ...

That's it for this installment. Buy yupo. Grow plants. Be happy.

Monday, January 23, 2006


A flock of robins flies over the house, red breasts glowing in sunset's salmon light. A ladybug wanders across my windowpane until I capture it gently and let it out into the fresh day. I deliberately overdo it, digging in the wet ground to get some bulbs and plants in, pruning roses and grape vines, clearing out the collapsed arbor, weeding. My arms are bare so the sun can caress pale skin. It feels like spring, actually, feels like an Oregon February, when the weather inexplicably clears for a pair of weeks and teases us with the promise of endlessly good weather ... soon. I hope we get this in February too. This is day two of blue sky, soft air and a glowing sense in the world that tomorrow we'll see big blooms and leaves open up. That would be bad, unfortunately. January, even the end of January, is too early. We'll see frost again, maybe tonight since the sky has misplaced its gray blanket.

The dogs basked together by the fence in sunlight, their fur gilded by warmth. The cats are on a killing spree, bringing in at least one vole a day, and blood stains the deck. Everyone is overdoing it. Spring fever, or more like spring festival, with the rushing about and the smiling and the anticipation of revelry.

So it comes as no surprise that I want to work on projects non-stop. But it's getting dark, and it's time to settle. I'll sit with a glass of wine that holds the memory of fresh fruit inside it, and try to remember the meaning of patience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stress Muffin

I think I'm the main stressor in my husband's life. He claims to be mine, but he'll have to settle for the bronze at best. Ahead of him are:
My son, who ties him for the bronze. These past few weeks Orion has made great strides, and so he may be taken completely out of the running. But I doubt it. I'm his mom. I worry about his grades, college, the day he'll be on his own, succeeding enough in life that he's happy. Some days I worry about him surviving at all. So even when he's doing well, I'll still worry about him.
My house takes the silver. I love my house. I don't take good enough care of it. Sometimes the chores are overwhelming. It needs work, too. Mice are building nests, once-damp areas have the remnents of mold. It has slightly off-white carpet that hasn't looked good since a few months after we bought the place. I sometimes have the feeling the place is half-patched together at best. It's my duty to make it ship shape, and when I fall down on it, I have a lingering sense of failure and inadequacy. I have major things on my list to do, and the financial part of it falls to Rory. I recognize I'm creating a constant drain on him, and that he feels its his responsibility to provide the financial ability to do everything I hope to do in this house. It's not fair. We used to be fiscally equal partners, or close to, and I want to shoulder the burden of maintenance and upkeep of the house. It's not possible right now. Someday, I'll write a best selling novel and ... oh yes, baby, yes!
And the gold goes to: Money. Not the lack thereof because we're doing very well, but my budgeting of it and failures thereof. It's stressful for everyone. It was, once upon a time, less stressful when I could work more hours to indulge myself with or cover my mistakes. I don't mind living within a budget, I'm just crappy at it. I think I'm getting better, but it keeps getting away from me and bill paying time are the most stressful times of the month. It's my most critical job, one I'm lousy at. I used to be good at it. Maybe some focused energy here will save me a lot of stress, and give me a sense of pride. I'd really like to go back to school, and then to work again. Or sell a novel or three. Or do it all. Why not? Life is but a dream? Nah. Life is but a striving, and the fulfillment of dreams.