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The Studio I’m Not Touring

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Obsessive Attentive readers may recall my post last week; specifically, the rant thoughtful reflection about pretentious author interviews. It seems I was just scratching the ass surface of that subject.

Dateline: Last weekend was the annual Open Studios tour, wherein participating artists in our county (Washington) and Portland open their studios to the public. On Saturday afternoon MH and I had gone to four studios, to see a glass artist, a graphics/printing/letterpress artist, a metal smith, a mixed media craftsperson.

On Sunday I had lunch at a local pub with MH.  While we waited for our food to arrive MH read through the open studio event’s brochure, to see if there were more artists/studios we’d like to see that afternoon. The brochure contains a picture of a signature piece from each artist, along with a first person description of the artist’s history and work – basically, whatever and however the artist wishes to present themself to the public.

As I started to work on a crossword puzzle I heard a faint sound, almost a low moan, coming from across the table.

“Uh…you might want to read this artist’s statement.” MH’s expression was that of impudence mixed with nausea.

“You can read it to me,” I suggested.

“I don’t think I can stand to.”  He passed the brochure to me.  I began to read it aloud, but couldn’t finish the third sentence without hooting.

Growing up on three continents, I have been inspired by much of the world. I now live on 30 breath-taking acres in an old historic hunting lodge, capturing the beauty that surround me. My home studio is a destination in itself…

Moiself: ” ‘My whole life is a destination unto itself! How it sucks to be you, in comparison to me and the beauty which doth surround me…. “ And I thought fiction authors were at the top of the pompous pile.  I am nominating her for honorary author status….”

MH: “Read on. It gets worse.”

Moiself:  “Don’t you mean,’ it gets better?’ Because so far, this is fabulous.”

Turns out, we were both right:

 My home studio is a destination in itself, amidst the wine country of Oregon, with 360 degree views of rolling farm land, Mt Hood and surrounding vineyards.

Educated in Apparel & Textile Design, I was L.L. Bean’s first apparel designer in the 80’s, Nike’s first Apparel Innovation Director in the 90’s, and launched Niketown.com during the dot-com boom. I now teach pastel workshops, amd (sic) I am represented by 6 galleries along the west coast. I am a board member and an award winner of the NW Pastel Society and am published nationally.  [1]

 

 

 

yesiam

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Make Me Shriek At The Breakfast Table

Specifically, a thing which caused me to shriek My mother’s cousin!!! while reading the NY Times Arts section…which gave MH yet another reason to look across the table at me, his head slightly tilted and eyebrows raised in a quizzical manner.

 

 

confusedspock

Like this, I take it?

 

 

 

Yeah, like that.

I had been reading The NY Times review of the movie, The Snowman,  [2]    and began to explain my shriek to MH…

Remember the story I’ve told you, when I was in grade school, and one night at the dinner table my dad was teasing my mom about her name….

For the benefit of those not related to me or who haven’t heard the story,  [3] a wee bit o’ background info: my mother’s birth surname was Hole. [4]. Yes, Hole.  I sometimes teased her, about why her own mother didn’t keep her surname Moran but instead was willing to take on her husband’s…unique…family name: It really must have been love, or desperation….

Yeah, so, the story.  At the family dinner table, occupied as per usual by my parents and their four children (on this particular night oh-so-many years ago, my older sister, younger sister and I were all in grade school, and our brother was an infant):

After my father’s customary So tell me about your day query, we dove into yet another round of thematic banter. Our family dinner table dialogues tended to focus on one subject, which was never (or rarely) intentional or pre-planned, but rather tangential from something which had happened to one of the Parnell siblings  [5] at school. On that evening, I shared a story about a kid who had been teased on the playground about his name – the combination of his first name and last name made for some tease-worthy rhyme schemes.  [6]

Marion Parnell said she felt sorry for the poor boy. Growing up with her particular last name, she knew exactly how he felt:

“My father was always telling my sisters and I how, in Norway, Hole was a respectable, upper class, landowners’ name. I lost track of how many times he told us we should be proud of our  name. He just couldn’t understand how it was for us, because in America, it was just HOLE.  Oh, I heard it all the time, the jokes: ‘Look, here comes Marion Hole, hole-in-the-ground…don’t fall into a hole!’ “

(I had also lost count of how many times I’d heard about Hole-is-a-proud-Norwegian-name assurances, and had come to think that our maternal grandfather had made that up to make our mother feel better.  I’d never heard of anyone, of any ethnic background, with that name.)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still with me? You deserve The Order of the Pretty Purple Toe ® award.

 

 

 

 

My mother took little comfort from me telling her that her peers had been pretty lame in the joke department.  ” ‘Marion Hole-in-the-ground’? I can think of a lot worse things to do with a name like…”

Chester Parnell jumped in, to save me from embarrassing my mother. Or so I thought.

“Well, Robbie Doll, you know what your mom’s middle name is?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I said. “Alberta?”

“That’s right,” Chet nodded enthusiastically. “But you know, she was so beautiful, I never had any second thoughts about marrying an A. Hole.

This produced shrieks of delight from the three Parnell daughters – first from me (my shriek decibel count was boosted by my pride in being the first one to “get it”), followed a few seconds later by my older sister, and then by my younger sister, who probably didn’t get the reference but knew something hilarious must have been said by the way her older sisters and father were reacting.

Mom had that tense/amused, trying-to-be-a-good-sport look on her face.  Dad gazed across the table at her with impish affection – I knew something even better was coming up.

Chester B. Parnell: “Tell them about your cousin.”

Marion A. Hole Parnell (baring her teeth): “I don’t want to tell them about my cousin.”

Chet:  “Tell them about your cousin. What was his name?”

Marion: (muttering) “His name was Harry.”

Chet: “And it wasn’t a nickname – his real name wasn’t Harold? And he didn’t have a middle name – just a first and last name?”

Marion: “That’s right.”

Mom, of course, knew where this was heading. She tried to act as if she were miffed, but I could see the corners of her mouth beginning to twitch.

Chet: “And so his name was…?”

Marion (deep breath): “Harry Hole.”

Professional stand-up comics would kill to get an audience response akin to that which erupted that evening, in the smallest of venues, the Parnell kitchen dining nook.

You’re waiting for the segue, aren’t you?

Back to the present: moiself, reading to MH, from the NY Times review of The Snowman:

There are a couple of mysteries swirling through “The Snowman,” a leaden, clotted, exasperating mess…blah blah blah…Mr. Fassbender plays Harry Hole

 

 

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons Why This Blog Is So (Relatively) Brief

There are reasons, but I can’t list them, right now. Suffice to say, they are…good.

 

 

happy sheep dance

 

 

I’ll be out of town most of the week…doing something really wonderful and fun and happy feet dance worthy.

 

 

dancing5

 

 

I may write about it later. 

 

 

 

dancing1

 

 

 

Did I mention that it’s good news?

 

 

dancing4

 

 

*   *   *

May you also be afflicted with Happy Dancing Animal Syndrome ®;
May you always remember, should you be called upon to compose one, that someone, somewhere, is actually reading your author/artist’s statement;
May a pun or naughty innuendo resulting from the combination of your first and/or middle/and or surname(s) cause someone to pee their pants with mirth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] The artist who seems more than a bit taken with herself does do nice work, according to another artist friend of ours (who was equally amused/repulsed by the bio, but said she did enjoy that artist’s actual art).

[2] Because, having seen a preview of it recently, I had no intention of seeing the movie. I never read reviews of movies I intend to see. Just a thing of mine – I don’t want to be prejudiced, or figure out the spoilers.

[3] The latter group would not include anyone within a twenty mile radius of my dining table.

[4] Which is why, once my feminist worldview began to develop, I told her it was completely understandable that she never even considering retaining her birth name upon marriage

[5] Which translates into, usually moiself. Things were always happening to moiself.

[6] And although I remember with vivid clarity the conversation that ensued from me sharing that story about the kid being teased re his name, to this day I cannot recall what the kid’s name was – something along the lines of Bart Katz, which of course got turned into Barfing Cats or Fart Cats or the like.

The Very Specific Felony I’m Not Committing

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Department Of Weekend Updates

Inquiring minds want to know  [1] –  and several have asked me about – the situation with the ‘hood.

 

 

enquiringjpg

 

 

No, no no no –inquiring minds. Not the other kind.

Yet again, I digress.

I refer to my neighborhood’s dilemma, mentioned in the September 15 edition of this space, wherein moiself detailed how, without warning or notification,  [2]  a drug and alcohol treatment business moved into our residential cul-de-sac.  [3]  Here’s where things stand, as of this week.  [4]

We the Neighbors ® participated in a mass emailing and phone contact campaign, from each concerned household and individual, to the head of our city’s planning Department, who is supposedly in charge of Such Things ®.  The responses (as per those of us who have received and compared them) seem to be identical [5]:  a form email – from the City’s Public Affairs Manager (not the Planner, to whom we addressed our concerns). The message used 518 words to thank us for our concern, regurgitate arcane zoning info, and inform us that

“… recovering addicts are considered a protected class
pursuant to federal housing law.”

My seven word summation of the communiqué:  Hey neighborhood, it sucks to be you.

 

 

redtape

 

*   *   *

Department Of Taking An Ahhh Break Before Beginning Another Rant

I almost stepped on this petite creature on Wednesday afternoon, when I went to our CSA farm to pick up the weekly produce share. She was sitting on the barn floor, quiet as a…barn kitty?…and then became MOST INSISTENT about being petted.

 

 

barnkitty

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Consequences

“No one raindrop considers itself responsible for the flood.”
(Chinese proverb)

 

In my near-future dreams, I meet a very nice, personable, intelligent, levelheaded-seeming person who is running for some local (as opposed to Federal) office – let’s say a State Representative – as a member of the Republican party. We commence to talking about Things, and this person, like other Republicans I’ve read about, sincerely claims that they were horrified and disgusted by their party’s nomination of that-which-became-our-country’s #45,  and that they are frustrated and embarrassed by #45‘s petty petulance, blatant ignorance, narcissistic and racist and sexist rants and antics, and his evident lack of self-control,mental stability, gravitas, discernment, and intelligence – his lack of just about any admirable quality that befits a world leader…

As I engage this person in dialogue I discover that I could, and in fact would like to, vote for this person, as we share similar opinions on the issues at hand.  But I have a hard truth to convey, and segue into that by telling them about my voting history. I tell them about how, ever since voting in my first election at age 18, I have scorned anything resembling party loyalty (and in fact I think the concept, along with one-issue litmus tests, is harmful to democracy).  Depending on the candidates/issues, I have voted for – in the past, and had expected to do so in the future – Democrats, Republicans, Green Party members, Independents, even a Libertarian or two ( or six) and a couple of socialists.  [6]

I myself belong to no political party.  Sometimes I register one way or another for the primary election, in order to vote for (or against) a certain candidate, but immediately post-primary switch back to no party affiliation.  Were I to have kept tabs on such things, ’tis a sure bet that more commonly (but not always) the candidate on the “liberal” or “left” side of the spectrum who has received my vote.

That said, here is what I would like this Nice Reasonable Republican For Whom I Would Like To Vote to know. Sadly but sincerely, I cannot support you as long as you are registered Republican and your party allows #45 to remain in office.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

 

Yes, I am holding you, and your fellow Republicans, personally accountable.  If Republicans continue to act as if they have lost both their scruples and their cojones and do not, from the lowest city commissioner to the senior members of the US Senate, rise up and with (or without) joining with the Democrats and others, work to impeach the Cheetos Hitler and/or invoke the 25th Amendment to remove that most unfit “president” from office, you will not have my vote.

Even if as a nation we somehow manage to survive the next 3 ¼ years with that maniacally treacherous, treasonous buffoon and his minions in office, I still will not vote for someone, for anyone, who is registered with the Republican party. I will never ever again vote for a Republican candidate, and will do my best to convince others to do likewise.

That’s it.

You may protest that you didn’t vote for him, that you are nothing close to being a party bigwig and are only a lowly local office holder and have no sway with the federal wing of your party, etc….   Excuses, schmuses. You are (all) responsible. He ran as a Republican for a reason; he became one of yours, and you let him. You did not do what was necessary to put your country, your fellow Americans, above your spineless, head-in-the-sand, political expediency…or whatever. Yes, you were responsible – you are responsible – and I’m holding you to it. For. Ever.

 

 

raindrop

Who you lookin’ at – it’s not my fault!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Abrupt Segue To Shinier, Happier Subjects

Daughter Belle is very much enjoying her Marine Biology class labs, where in the class and the professor head out on a boat in the Puget Sound and…explore.

I am almost as thrilled as she is – and I look forward to today’s vicarious enjoyment, when, like every Friday this semester, I receive pictures like this:

 

 

marinebiolabsept17

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Unexpected Stylings

 

 

scissors

“So you want a little off the top – I’ll show you a little off the top….”

 

 

 

 

Dateline: last Thursday afternoon, sitting at the chair in my hair stylist’s salon. While stylist KL fastened the hairdressing cape around my neck, I noticed an item on her station’s stand that was new to me. Next to the familiar containers of gels and sprays, and holders for combs and brushes and other styling utensils, I espied a bright orange spray can of something called Clippercide.

 

 

clipper

 

 

 

Although KL swore to me that Clippercide was merely a spray used to sterilized shears and other haircutting gear, I was suspicious. The product’s name was poorly chosen, I insisted. It sounds like a very specific felony charge filed against a haircutter who scissors someone to death.  

 

 

 

bookem

“First degree Clippercide – book ’em, Danno.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you never be on the receiving end of “Book ’em, Danno;”
May you never step on a barn kitty;
May you always hold the raindrop responsible for the flood;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or don’t give a tinker’s fart. It’s a tossup.

[2] and with deceit and subterfuge from the business’ Executive Director.

[3] In the case of MH and I, right next door.

[4] Using the Very Much Long Story Made Short ® format.

[5] Save for the salutation, in which our first names are used. Ya gotta love the personal touch.

[6] And once even a member of the Communist party, because I wanted to see if by doing so I would get on some FBI or governmental watch list. How idealistic foolish was that? (Yep, I was in college.)

The New Folder I’m Not Filling

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Not in my dreams, anyway. But in the sheer, revealing light of day, the papers are starting to accumulate, and I may need several file folders. Copies of neighborhood correspondence, action plans….

I rarely devote the blog to one tooth-gnashing rant calmly considered event or topic, but this week there hasn’t been room for much more.

*   *   *

Last Saturday MH and I saw multiple vehicles apparently moving a family into the house next door to ours. The house had been for sale for many months; the sudden move-in came as a surprise, as we’d followed the listing and had seen no change in status (i.e. from for sale to pending to sold) for it, either online or on the property’s realty sign.

As is our custom to greet new neighbors, MH and I went next door to introduce ourselves. We brought a paper with our contact information on it, and also welcome bottles of wine and sparkling cider to give to (what we thought would be) the new family. Imagine our jaw-dropping  [1] surprise to discover that the house had either been sold or is being rented to “House of Hope,” an organization running a halfway house for drug and alcohol addicts.

We briefly met the HOH organization’s Executive Director. The ED  [2] was at the house to supervise the move but will not be living there (she said there will be a “live-in house coordinator” on site at all times.) Ms. ED gave the shell-shocked MH and I two handouts: a copy of the information pamphlet/contract given to those entering the HOH program, and a three page, tactlessly titled, Good Neighbor Agreement.  ED said she intended to go to a few (but not all) homes in the neighborhood on Monday to introduce herself and the program, and at that time would ask us and these neighbors to sign off on the GNA.

Fat effing chance, lady, I thought, as MH and I zombie-staggered back to our house.

 

 

zombie

Yep, it kinda felt like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts were confirmed after I read the so-called Good Neighbor Agreement. The GNA – an odd document containing weasel-word phraseology (“some individuals may have a legal history instead of, “may have served jail time) and typos – was presented as a way to inform the locals on how the HOH plans on being a good neighbor (“nuisances avoidance”) and how we should contact them directly with concerns.  Instead, the document comes off as assuming an adversarial relationship, and, as every neighbor who has read the document has commented, is likely to be used as a shield against future complains (You signed the GNA; you knew there are addicts living here who have a ‘legal history’ “….)

Golly Gosh Gee.  Call me naïve, but I’ve known many bona fide good neighbors over the years, none of whom tried to get me to sign off on some kind of half-baked agreement,  [3] as if I were entering a contractual or fiduciary relationship with them.

 

 

 

yeahwhatshesaid

 

 

 

 

The HOH business describes itself as a “faith-based,” non-profit organization providing “transitional housing opportunity” and the prospect to “grow spiritually,” for adult women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction (lots of religious wording in the documents).  The business was previously located not in our city (Hillsboro), but in another city, on property owned by a church which sponsors the program. According to the ED, HOH had to move from its original location because “someone decided” to open a school on the church grounds. But it is still being run from there, seven miles away.  And they decided to relocate…here.

Here, is a cul-de-sac, where young children play at the end of the street, in a neighborhood zoned Single Family Residential. The HOH houses multiple unrelated adults under one roof.  [4]   But if a person or organization seeks an exemption to the zoning regulations they must file for a conditional use permit, and a public notice and public hearing is required – neither of which has happened.

Or at least, that used to be the case.

I’ve been hearing different things from different people (including the city employees we talk to on the phone). Apparently, there are state and federal “anti-discrimination” laws that can allow for such organizations to be located in an otherwise SFR neighborhood, without having to post notice or hold a hearing.

 

 

 

 

 

This is surprising and even shocking to us.  Like many residents of our city, I remain mindful about what happened here a few years ago, when a sexual offender living in a residential treatment center left the center on two consecutive nights, broke into nearby residences, and raped first a 21 year old woman and then an 11 year old girl, at knifepoint. Neighbors where the center was located had not been notified – had no idea – that the house in their midst was not occupied by several male friends splitting the rent but was in fact a treatment center for convicted sex offenders.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Really.

MH and I felt blindsided by the sudden presence of a residential addiction treatment facility next door, and believe it is a violation of city zoning laws, as well as a detriment to the values (both personal and property) and safety of the our ‘hood.  Our real neighbors felt just as strongly – some more so, due to their experiences with addicts and outpatient treatment centers. The ‘hood’s Neighborhood Watch organizer and others sprang into action, and in the past few days there have been many “interesting” discoveries.

One neighbor, JM, volunteered to become the neighborhood point person, after she too was blindsided by a visit from the HOH’s ED  [5] . JM was stunned by the ED’s insistence that HOH could house two persons per bedroom and that their house has seven bedrooms and thus “we can have up to 14” residents living in the house. [6] The ED furthermore stated that the HOH had received approval from both the city and the county and there was nothing other homeowners could do.

 

 

 

pinnochio

“We can have as many bedrooms and residents as we say we can have and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Assisted by other neighbor’s research, JM found that there were “multiple complaints and law enforcement visits at the site where The HOH program was previously located.” She contacted our city’s Senior Planner, who told her the ED’s claim of being allowed to house 14 persons was “inaccurate,” to say the least, and that HOH had been informed of the maximum allowed occupancy of 8 unrelated persons per residence.  [7]

JM also contacted the house’s listing realtor, who described the buyers as an older couple who purchased the house and who used a buyer’s agent.  Neither the buyer nor their agent disclosed who would actually be living in the house “until the last minute.”

I think the ED’s encounter with JM and others sparked a realization: the neighbors here are united in our outrage at her organization’s subterfuge and disregard for our neighborhood’s safety and livability concerns and zoning regulations. We are not duped by any alleged Good Neighbor Agreement  maneuvers.  We are neither impressed nor assuaged by language like, “faith-based,” nor intimidated by veiled threats of NIMBY accusations and/or not caring about helping others, to bend over for this.

The ED never showed up at MH’s and my house, as she’d promised.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Time For A Baby Sloth Break.

 

I don’t know about you, but I need one.

 

 

pajamasloth

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Where It Stands Now

The Senior Planner with whom JM spoke requested she give him “a couple of days” to research the situation. Other neighbors continue to do their research,  [8] including meeting with the mayor, providing him with the HOH documents HOH and giving him a tour of our neighborhood. The mayor is being described as “very supportive, proactive, and clearly understands the point of view of our community,” and will take the issue to the City Manager. The Neighborhood Watch captain and others have gone door to door to give people copies of the HOH documents and are arranging a neighborhood meeting for next week, to share information and our various discoveries, and discuss what we hope will not be necessary – the need to further strategize, should the going-through-the-bureaucracy options fail.

But I think any discovery is basically going to lead to what we’ve already surmised: we were blindsided.  Bushwhacked.  Sucker-punched.  The HOH people hid information, spread mis-information, and dissembled if not outright lied. That self-described, “Christ-centered” organization snuck in and counted on inertia, assuming that even if laws – and even basic, common human courtesy to potential neighbors – were ignored, bent or even broken, it would be difficult to get them out once they were in.

 

Because, you know, Jesus told them, “Blessed are those who trick their neighbors and then take the, “It is too legal! We’re here and you can’t make us leave, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah tactic.”

 

 

winkinJC

 

 

 

True Good Neighbors ® that we are, MH and I hold no ill will toward the HOH residents themselves.  They did not choose the house site. It is the organization’s leaders who have proven untrustworthy.  No matter what happens, we intend to take the high road in our dealings with them. [9]

The neighbors who have shared their concerns with me hold a variety of political and religious beliefs (including those of us who are religion-free), and include native Oregonians to first generation immigrants [10]  to green card holders, and none of them want an addiction recovery business down the block, nor would they have chosen to move here if they knew such a place was in the neighborhood.

“Faith-based,” my happy heathen patootie.  Moiself would, of course, prefer any organization to be fact-based.  It doesn’t matter if HOH calls their philosophy plutonium-based, or whatever – it is simply inappropriate for that kind of business to be located in this residential neighborhood.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Finding The Silver Lining

A delicious irony not lost upon MH and moiself : the first (and last) welcome wagon for the “faith-based” drug and alcohol house consisted of two atheists bearing a bottle of booze.

 

 

 

FNA

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you enjoy the delicious ironies life hands you;
May your motivations and decisions be fact- and reality-based;
May you find comfort in the occasional baby sloth picture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which in my case involved babbling incoherently like a tRump cabinet appointee an idiot about how they are welcome to come over anytime to retrieve any Frisbees that may fly over the fence from their backyard into ours…. I was trying to keep myself from saying what I was really thinking.

[2] I find the acronym appropriate.

[3] Which doesn’t even stipulate why they want you to sign the document, and what would be the consequences of signing it.

[4] And, as readers who continue on will discover, more adults under one roof than is allowed.

[5] “Who invited herself in, say down at our table and kept insisting I sign the GNA.”

[6] The house was listed as four bedrooms, with an option for a fifth, because the bonus room had been converted to a bedroom (to house an elderly parent) by the previous owners. One neighbor who is also a realtor had seen the inside of the house, and said that there is no way there could be seven legal bedrooms in that house.

[7] Even at 8 unrelated adults…this is a cul de sac. Where the hell are they all going to park?

[8] Advised by one neighbor who is a former City Manager. People in this ‘hood know their stuff.

[9] I wonder if that road includes asking the HOH to reimburse us for the cost of the security cameras we’ve been advised to install?

[10] From other countries as well as other states.

The Ownership I’m Not Experiencing

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Happy Half Birthday to K

Yes, half-birthdays are a thing (at least in our family).

 

Eli In Leaves 1995

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Do You Say Wistful In Swedish?

MH and I bid a fond, happy-for-them-but-sad-for-us, Bon Voyage to our beloved and longtime “Swenadian” friends this week. The S family was one of the first families we met when we moved to this neighborhood, over 20 years ago. And now they have metaphorically set sail for the mother ship (the husband’s), Sweden.

After taking his company’s retire-or-get-fired [1]  offer this year, the Swedish-Canadian couple began planning to live their dream of returning to academia/research.  [2]  They sold their house in Hillsboro and are on their way to Sweden, and will reside in Gothenburg .

Their three now young adult children, of whom our son K and daughter Belle have so many fond memories, are all US citizens and are all (so far) content to remain in the USA; thus, there is an “anchor” to have our friends return stateside for visits. [3]  We also have their generous invitation to come across the pond and stay with them in Sweden. And so our wishes for them were Bon Voyage and best of luck – we didn’t have to truly bid them goodbye…even as my heart was aching, to lose the physical proximity of such good people.

Their daughter remarked on FB about how admiring and proud she was of her parents for taking on such a life adventure, and she hoped she would be doing something similar when she was 55.  Moiself, too, I thought, when I read her touching tribute. Similar (admittedly selfish) thoughts have added to the tug at my heart – where is my (post, ahem) age 55 adventure?  [4]  I’m sad to see good friends depart, yet happy for them as they pursue their dream…and also slightly envious of their willingness and ability to embark on their new venture.

Skål!

 

 

SegersNYE2005

How we will miss those classy family celebrations; e.g., the Swenadian Year of the Gummy Worm, aka New Year’s Eve 2005 (our son K [the only one sans eyeglasses] and daughter Belle(second row, middle) nd Belle with the S family’s children)

*   *   *

Department Of It’s So Much More Than That

“We hope you are enjoying your ownership experience with your Outback.”

So began the email I received last Sunday. After expressing their wish for my satisfaction, the good folks at Subaru of America tried to entice me to participate in an Outback ownership survey.  [5]

It didn’t take me long to reach for the delete key.  But I must admit, for a nanosecond or so, the email did get me to consider my life anew.  In the next few days, if y’all notice the twinkle in my eye or the spring in my step or the bug up my ass , it’s because I’ve seen the light.  How can I have been so callow, so unappreciative, for so long?  I don’t merely possess a car; I have an ownership experience.

 

 

subaru

Believe it or not, this wasn’t what sold me on my automobile purchase.

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Win For Science

Although the usage of win implies a contest, and there’s no contest between objective evidence and wishful thinking…although, if you spend a lot of time reading Facebook posts you realize how many people confuse the latter with the former.

To wit: The most recent total solar eclipse. Specifically, the fact that it occurred, as predicted by scientists, years ago. Win win win.

 

 

eclipse

“Let’s hear it for me!”

 

 

 

A momentary digression: Freethinkers, Brights, Humanists, Skeptics, Atheists – whatever we who are religion-free call ourselves, most of us have had the experience of being asked, by a religious believer, if we ‘believe” in science. Uh, nooooo, we reply, some of us successfully stifling the instinctive, WTF!? raising of our eyebrows (or just a fit of giggling), we don’t need to “believe” in science because “science” does not require that.

Science – observing, documenting and trying to understand the natural world – is a methodology, not a belief system.

Scientists cannot “believe” in science – they have to do science. Science requires action. Believing is passive – not only is no action required, seeking objective evidence is discounted and often even criticized by religions (which champion faith over facts because they couldn’t exist without the former and strive to exist despite the latter).  [6]   And of course they do – if you have evidence, you don’t need faith.

Back to the eclipse: we have fresh in our minds (and stunningly gorgeous pictures and videos on our FB and other feeds) yet another example of how to respond to those who would ask us  [7] if we “believe” in science.

Religions have been preaching about and predicting the end of the world for, well, since the beginning of religions. They prophesy the year or the season – often giving exact dates – when the world will end and/or their god(s) will “return.” It doesn’t happen.

Using information they’ve obtained on planetary and celestial body orbits, scientists predict solar eclipses. Scientists predict the exact dates and even times of these astronomical events, and they do this decades in advance.  The eclipses happen, on the dates and times predicted.

This could be the ultimate illustration of understanding the world using science, versus using religion. One is based on objective measurement and study of the natural world to discover and affirm what is true, and one is based on mythology, supernaturalism, and wishful thinking.  [8]

Sub-Department Of Define Your Terms

My use of the term wishful thinking:  when I apply that term to describe a person’s belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think said belief is inherently false, or true. It just means that the person believes what they want to be true, without objective evidence of whether it really is true.

Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
Mark Twain

stars

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Loss For Humanity

“I think I can speak for all Oregonians when I say our hearts are breaking.  The gorge is Oregon’s crown jewel. It’s our playground and we are very, very sad.”
(Multnomah Co. Chair Deborah Kafoury, Eagle Creek Fire Grows, Oregon Live.)

A text from Belle, up at school in Tacoma: “the amount of ash is crazy…there was a layer of ash all over my car this morning and it’s swirling around outside like snow.”

Alert after alert, popping up on my weather app. But I don’t need an app to tell that the air quality sucks – I just need to walk to the mailbox. The smoke-hazy skies, the catch in my breath, the lightly falling ash – ASH! – on the raspberry and azalea bushes, the awful feeling in my lungs, followed by the awful feeling in my head and heart, of hoping it’s due to prevailing winds carrying debris from fires far, far away…and finding out it is much closer than I think.

The awful feelings continue, as I find myself thinking the (almost) unthinkable: what I wish would happen to the juvenile shitstains of an excuse for sentient beings young arsonists who tossed firecrackers – in this weather! In ANY weather! – over a cliff, starting the Eagle Creek fire that is currently decimating the Columbia Gorge

 

 

 

gorge

*   *   *

May you look forward to reuniting with those whom you’ve bid adieu;
May you not settle for mere possessing when you can have an ownership experience;
May you have memories of visiting or hiking the Columbia Gorge when it was flame-free;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It was a bit more complicated, and less nasty, than how I have stated it.

[2] Sadly, a big impetus for pursuing that dream was getting out of the Land of the Cheetos Hitler, the Mandarin Mussolini (insert your favorite epithet for #45)….  They found the changing political and cultural landscape of their adopted country to be increasingly odious.

[3] Although, realistically, the kids will go to Sweden to see Mom and Pop more than Mom & Pop will come back here.

[4] Having an ongoing, Life’s Third Act crisis doesn’t count.

[5] They were unsuccessful.

[6] (“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus berating the “Doubting Thomas” in the book of John)

[7] (often in defensive ways that indicate they somehow/deep down inside suspect that their religious beliefs are contradict by reality, and so they want to bring science, skepticism and the study of the natural world down to their level – “Well, you have faith in atheism/religion!” This is also known as the kindergarten-worthy, Oh yeah? Well so’s your old man/nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! argument.

[8]  (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1, KJV )

The Soles I’m Not Smelling

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Department Of It Took Longer Than It Should Have To Figure It Out

Dateline: last week. Early on a late August day, out for a walk. Like far too many Pacific Northwest mornings this summer, the day is already too  [1]  warm at 6:50 am, and portends to become searing.

As it is our neighborhood’s trash pickup day, residents have dutifully wheeled their green (for household garbage) and brown (for yard waste) garbage cans to the curb. I walk, and keep looking around, my nose reflexively wrinkling in disgust, thinking, who hasn’t picked up their dog’s crap?  I occasionally stop to check the bottom of my shoes and the tips of my Exerstrider ®  walking poles, hoping I didn’t step in, uh, “anything”…

….until I realize the smell is not in fact coming from the soles of my shoes (yay!), nor from the sidewalks or gutters or streets, but from every other trashcan I walk by.

My keen sense of deductive – or is it aroma-tive? – reasoning tells me I am passing the garbage cans of dog owners, who have disposed of their Fido’s waste within.

Phew ( p.u.?) – glad to have figured that one out.  I look forward to the chillier, odor-quashing mornings of autumn and winter.

 

 

 

dog

I don’t get it. Smells fine to me.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of By The Way

If you’re still with me, here, you just read someone’s writing about festering dog turds on a hot August morning.

And you kept reading.

Just sayin.’

 

jubilantpicard

I love it when she finds an excuse to use the phrase, festering turds.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Further Information On The Eclipse I Did Not Describe

The total solar eclipse I didn’t feel capable of describing was featured in last week’s post. One aspect of the experience I can describe is how much everyone in our group [2] enjoyed the t-shirts MH made for us, to celebrate/commemorate the occasion.

This solar sartorial satisfaction was not limited to our band of eclipse groupies. At our viewing spot (overlooking the Lake Billy Chinook Gorge), which our group shared with about 20-30 other people, [3] many of the hitherto-strangers-to-us approached one or all of our group and commented on how much they *loved* the elegant simplicity of the shirts’ design – who did it, and boy-howdy could we have made some money if we’d set up a roadside stand selling them, ’cause they’d seen a variety of eclipse-related souvenirs but found none of them attractive and hadn’t been tempted to get anything, and then they saw all of us, each one sporting those Fabulous Shirts ® ….

 

 

 

eclipset

 

 

Department Of It’s A Small World In Astronomy Haute Couture

Turns out even people who weren’t even there liked the afore-mentioned shirts, thanks to social media. Our astronomer friend and trip organizer MM posted pictures of the event on his FB page, which caught the eyes of two astronomy fashion bloggers.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep, you read right. There is such a thing as an astronomy fashion blogger (and it’s about time, isn’t it?).

Two New York City-based astronomers have a blog – http://www.startorialist.com – with possibly the best-ever motto:

Where science meets fashion and scientists get fabulous!

Yet again, I digress. But with good reason. You really ought to check out some of the duds on their site.  These Ladies of Luminosity are legit – they’ve been written up about their expectation-defying interest in promoting science-inspired style. There’s a whole cosmos o’ celestial chic out there apart from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s vast vault of vogue vests.

 

 

 

MDT

 

 

 

So: MM contacted MH and let him know that the startorialist astronomers had noticed our group’s groovy shirts, and had asked MM for more photos and info on how you made them.   Generous and Humble Citizen of the World ®  that he is, MH decided to forgo the opportunity to get all exclusive-y and copyright-y and make bazillions of dollars on Etsy:  he sent the startorialists more pictures, and shared his trade secrets (i.e. provided step-by-step instructions as to how he’d made the shirts), which y’all may be able to read on one of their upcoming blog posts.

 

*   *   *

different

 

 

 

Department Of Why Aren’t You Seeing This Movie?

Wind River is starkly beautiful, foreboding, poignantly distressing, lyrically blue, with unanticipated moments of dry wit/gallows humor…not sure of an adequate term for some of its droll dialogue.  Superb writing and directing by Taylor Sheridan, who also gave us last year’s engrossing Hell or High Water.  And it’s always nice to see the underused Canadian/First Nations actor Graham Greene in action.  [4]

Just go see it, okay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Passing Comments

Dateline: Sunday afternoon. MH and I driving home from our errands-running. The panhandler sat on a chair in the median by the traffic light. He was puffing away on his nicotine death stick delivery system cigarette with a laconic-yet-defiant, fuck yeah I’m gonna spend your donation on my tobacco smirk on his face.

The why-you-should-give-me-money sign he held read:

Too ugly to prostitute
too honest to steal

“He forgot, Too proud to beg, ” MH muttered.

 

 

 

handsup

*   *   *

May your walks be perfumed by the sweetest scents nature can provide;
May you always keep reading past the turd stories;
May you have the opportunity to get science-fashion fabulous;   [5]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Who gets to decide what is “too” warm for an Oregon morning? I do. You didn’t get the memo?

[2] Sixteen total: MH, K, Belle and I, plus twelve Californians – longtime friends and their families and S.O.s (plus two dogs, which, of course, didn’t want to miss out on the eclipse action)

[3] Whom, we assumed, had also previously checked out likely viewing spots and decided, “This is the one!”

[4] What happened to all the footnotes? There should be at least five.

[5] Ah, that’s better.

The Reality I’m Not Dreaming

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Department Of Been There Done That…
(And Done It Poorly)

I washed my car last Saturday.

 

 

cheering crowds

 

 

Thank you.

I mean hand washed it – something I have not done in years. Clarification: my car is a little over six months old, so I haven’t done or not done anything to that car in years. I meant, it’s been years since I’ve hand-washed any car we’ve had.

Not to imply my car resembles a college dorm room – far from it. I regularly and thoroughly clean and vacuum out the inside of whatever car I’m driving, but when it comes to the outside, I run it through the local car wash, and I urged family members to do the same.  Commercial car washes use less water than home-washing, and treat and recycle the water they use, and when we wash our cars at home, in the driveway, the runoff soapy water goes into the sewer and ends up in the rivers. So, by patronizing a car wash I am being a good citizen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…no, really, THAT’S THE ONLY REASON I DO IT….  It’s not that I’m lazy.

Anyway, so I hand washed my car.  And now, I am so over that.  Forget the eco warrior consciousness [1] pretensions – having not done it for years, I’d forgotten what a mind-numbingly tedious task it is. I’d also apparently forgotten what shoddy results are obtained when a car is washed by moiself.

 

 

dirty car

It looked a little better than this when I was done.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why I Am In Tacoma
And Thus By Extension Or Implication, Why This Blog Is So Relatively  Lame Short

 

Belle had foot surgery.

I’m doing the Mom Thing ® , helping out with errands and taking her to her post surgery appointment. Most importantly, I am helping my daughter come up with some better-than-the-truth [2]  stories for her to emit in response to the inevitable, what-happened-to-you? queries she receives when people, from friends to strangers in the grocery store, get a look at her snazzy boot & crutches combo.

 

 

Blleboot

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Last Friday I had a very vivid, unusual dream, where in Senator John McCain, yes, he of the recently diagnosed glioblastoma,was giving a speech.

Vivid dreams are the norm for moiself; stylistically, they tend to be more Dali than documentary.  What was unusual was the tone or setting for the dream: it was total realism – cinema vérité, as opposed to my typical night reveries which start out with plausible scenarios and quickly morph into Cecil B. DeMille goes Dada, cast-of-thousands spectacles. If the particular dream to which I refer had unfolded according to my “usual” REM reveries, at some point jars of peanut butter would have suddenly appeared out of the proverbial nowhere and flipped open in front of the podium where McCain was speaking, and Carmen Miranda and a chorus line of bare-chested Brazilian boy toys would have popped out of the jars and joined McCain on stage.

 

 

 

carmen

Mccain

Whom would you rather hear give a stirring political address?

 

 

 

So. I had a dream that Senator John McCain rose to the occasion. Sen. McCain still wore the bandages from the recent operation which revealed his brain tumor, at a press conference where he gave the speech of his – of any politician’s – life.

Sen. McCain spoke of treasuring his lucidity while it was still present, and of how his biggest disappointment was not of his impending death, but of leaving public service at a time when the delusional ethics and behavior of the current administration were more mind-scrambling than any hallucinations a brain tumor would likely produce. He announced his retirement from politics, and gave an impassioned call to action to his fellow senators and to the American people to demand the resignation and/or impeachment of Trump and Pence, citing Section 4of the 25th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution).  His last request was that he could retire in peace, live his remaining days with his family, secure in the knowledge that the country was not in the hands of a madman and his lap dogs.

And then, I woke up.

 

 

*   *   *

May certain of your most vivid dreams soon become reality;
May you never lack for entertaining responses to what-happened-to-you? queries;
May you know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em;   [3]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] If I were really a warrior fanatic in that regard I probably wouldn’t’ have a car.

[2] Since the reality – corrective surgery for a bunion – is not nearly so entertaining as, “This guy was about to stomp on some puppies so I kicked him in the teeth and now the puppies are safe but the would-be-stomper’s teeth got imbedded in my foot…”

[3] Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And yes, that KR song reference is apropos of nothing, and frankly, I’m embarrassed that the song just popped into my mind as I was trying to end this post. Must have been a tangent from thinking about brain tumors.

The Yoga Pose I’m Not Practicing

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Among the many reasons the short story is my favorite fiction format: it is one wherein questions are raised, but not necessarily answered. Unlike the novel, which may take you through a character’s existence from cradle to grave or present a life survey from A-to-Z , [1] a short story often drops you in the middle, say, in segments M-Q, leaving – or allowing – you to fill in the befores and afters with the clues the writer has presented.

A well-crafted short story leaves you wanting to know more, and even frees your imagination to provide your own details.  I admire the art of lyrical songwriting, in that a song can sometimes be the perfect short story. The first time I heard The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby I was blown away by how a song could be at once so sparse and evocative.  But wait – how did those lonely people get to be so lonely, and where did they come from? I must know.

 

 

 

billie Jo

 

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, someone asked me who my favorite contemporary short fiction writer was, and I answered, “Bobbie Gentry.”

Arguably one of the greatest short stories of the twentieth century was penned and sung by Bobbie Gentry .  Her Southern gothic ballad, Ode to Billie Joe, was released 50 years ago this month, when Gentry was a mere 22 years old.

The song, which never reveals why Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge, has been described as suggestive, haunting, enigmatic, poignant, disturbing, mystifying, etc.  But to the grade school moiself who, after a first listen, had to listen again and again and again, it was then and remains now merely and monumentally…cool

Congratulations on the anniversary, along with a Tallahatchie River’s worth of admiration, to the classy Ms. Gentry, who had always refused to explain “the meaning” of the song.

 

*   *   *

Department Of You Never Know What Fun Awaits While Running Mundane Errands

Dateline: Wednesday, noonish:  I would like to thank the Mystery Person(s) ® who left this pair of  –  guardians?  greeters? mascots? ninja warriors in disguise? on a curb in the grocery store parking lot.

 

 

grocery guardians

 

 

 

After I took that picture I stepped back about thirty feet or so and hung around for awhile, watching the people who walked to and from the store – people seemingly oblivious to the mini public art display at their feet.  The only reason I saw it was that I happened to look down at just the right moment when I was passing by – no doubt it was my karmic reward  [2] for what had just previously transpired outside the store (is this a segue, or what?).

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yes I Do I Blurt Things Out To Total Strangers

As I exited the (previously mentioned) grocery store, two young girls, looking to be about four or five years old, ran past the store’s entry door, each giggling and turning to glance over their respective shoulders. I looked in the direction of their glances: thirty or so feet behind the girls was a rather impatient-looking woman (whom I took to be the girls’ mother), resolutely pushing a shopping cart.

Impatient Mother called out to the girls,

“You are not running away from me!”

Which caused me to smile and say, in what I thought was my best/supportive, I’ve-been-there voice,

Actually, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Impatient Mother threw me a bit o’ stink eye and then called out again to her daughters, this time using their names.  I got a kick out of the fact that one of the girls has the same (non-blog moniker) name as my daughter.  And there was much rejoicing.

 

 

 

 

 

Was I that easily amused when I was younger?

 

*   *   *

They’re here!

 

 

harpandfuchsia

“All together now: “Harp and fuchsia, ahhhhhhhh.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is One Big Celebration

 

Dateline: Monday My Swenadian [3] friend recently returned to the ‘hood after spending six months in Sweden. I visited her, bringing welcome-back goodies, and we played catch-up with each other’s lives. She, too, has traveled to Ireland and loved it and would like to return someday.  [4]  After telling her about MH’s and my trip to Ireland and the recent arrival of the Harp and Fuchsia pattern [5]  tumblers we’d ordered from Dingle Crystal, I returned home with the sudden urge to take whatever I had in the frig and turn it into a meal an Irish person would enjoy. Plus, there were those mahhhhhvelous gin and tonics we’d had in the town of Dingle, made with Dingle Gin, which would be lovely to serve in the tumblers…but what are the chances of being able to find a Hillsboro Oregon liquor store which stocks a spirit from a small Irish distillery in Oregon?

 

 

Dingle2

 

 

 

My mission was to find something comparable, so I told the clerk at Hillsboro Liquor Store that I was looking for Irish gin (not even thinking to mention the specific distillery, as it is so small) but realized the likelihood of finding it was slim, so did he know if a Scottish or British gin would be analogous? The Friendly and Helpful Clerk ® checked his register computer and said, “What about Ding –” he couldn’t even get the word out of his mouth before I shrieked, gobsmacked with delight, “You have Dingle gin?!?!?”

That night I informed MH that our Irish butter-poached steelhead salmon, cabbage/potatoes/mushroom colcannon and fresh spring peas feast was to celebrate the arrival of our crystal and the memory of our Ireland trip, the return of our beloved Swenadian friends, my acquisition of Dingle gin, and…

I searched my mind for another reason to justify spending $50 on a bottle of gin.

…”and oh yeah, this morning someone farted quite loudly in yoga class” (despite the fact that the class was *not* performing pawanmuktasana, which translates as “wind-relieving pose”).   [6]

 

 

wind

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you continue to wonder why
Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge;
May you, via gin or crystal purchases or berry encounters,
have the opportunity to say, Dingle;
May all of your poses, yoga or other, bring wind relief;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[2] Plenty of doubt, actually, as I do not believing in karmic or any other/similar of reward.

[3] She is Canadian, her husband is Swedish.

[4] She worked and lived there one summer, during her student days.

[5] A design unique to Dingle Crystal, representing Ireland (Harp) and West Kerry (fuchsia).

[6] Yes, there is such a pose.

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