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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 Experience I’m Not Describing

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*   *   *

Department Of How To Describe The Indescribable

aka

Total Eclipse Of The Blog

 

My family and I joined twelve friends on an adventure to the Central Oregon high desert area, where we were able to find a prime viewing spot just above the Lake Billy Chinook gorge, with Mt. Jefferson to the west. We watched the eclipse in all its phases, from first contact [1] through the end, and were able to experience just under two minutes of totality.

Astronomers, other scientists, science geeks and groupies and other laypersons have tried, with varying degrees of evocative articulation, to speak and/or write about Monday’s solar eclipse.  Check NASA’s site for links to superlative photos and videos, if you’re interested.

As for moiself, I am still processing my experience, and thus am hesitant to write much about it.

 

 

 

muchrejoicing

 

 

 

 

You’re welcome.

Our longtime family friend  [2]  MM is a NASA astronomer and solar eclipse-o-phile. [3]  MM was the impetus and initial organizing force for the trip – his third (and our first) to the area of a solar eclipse totality zone.  In a heartfelt FB post, MM wrote about how it is difficult to put the experience of seeing a total solar eclipse into words…yet he managed to do so, IMHO, with concision and beauty:

It’s such an immersive experience with the Earth, the shadow, the moon, and the sun. … I’ve always said that “it speaks to your lizard brain,” which still doesn’t do it justice in any way. The indifference of the moon grinding on in its orbit while we humans gather in the shadow speaks to many things and moved me to tears.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Please Stop Saying That

Allegedly Sentient Biped A: Let’s go see the Transformers movie tonight at the multiplex. Meet you there at seven-fifteen?”

Allegedly Sentient Biped B: Awesome!

 

 

WORD

 

 

The mis- and over-use of that adjective has bothered me for ages. But now that I have truly experienced something which merits the description of being

magnificent, majestic, imposing, splendid, spectacular, grand, awe-inspiring, striking, stunning, breathtaking, impactful

etc., I don’t know if I can continue to tolerate hearing awesome used in conjunction with the unfortunate myriad of comparatively ordinary, pedestrian objects and situations to which it is applied.

You know what this means.

I’m afraid I’m going to turn into One Of Those People Who Corrects Other People On Their Word Usage.  ®  

 

 

Grammarcop

 

 

All things considered, could you blame me, the next time some nonchalant café server attempts the following interaction?

Server: “Have you decided what to order?”

Moiself: “Yes, I’ll have your quinoa lingonberry salad special.”

Server: “Awesome!”

Moiself: “Uh…thank you for lauding my selection, but, trust me, I’ve seen awesome, and your salad – anyone’s salad – ain’t it.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are The World/We Are The Sunset

Perhaps the most memorable of the eclipse moments was also, for me, the most unexpected. It occurred during the totality, when I tore my gaze away from watching the extension of the solar corona and looked down, and around, at the horizon. There was another totality to be seen – that of the sunset effect. I turned in a circle, and instead of seeing a sliver of the pink/red glow of dusk to the west, it was in all directions:  360 degrees of “sunset.”

It blew my effin’ mind.

Without using any external technology (compass; GPS) or just previously knowing where you were (okay; Mt. Jefferson was to the west so we are facing east…),  there were none of the usual solar clues to orient you. You could not tell east from west from north from south.  For just under two minutes, “direction” or orientation didn’t matter.

What a humbling perspective. Could it make a difference, I wondered, if people all over the world could see it?

When I attempted to explain my experience to my son K and daughter Belle, K mischievously accused me of having “one of your hippie moments.”

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate those times when direction doesn’t matter;
May you prioritize seeing, at least once in your life, a total solar eclipse;
May you live long and well enough to have legitimately awesome experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] No, Star Trek TNG fans, not that First Contact.

[2] He and MH’s association goes back to mid 1980s Caltech.

[3] If there is such a thing, and I think that there is.

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.

The Ethics Code I’m Not Violating

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As you may remember from the last two weeks, I am openly and admittedly violating the Bloggers Code of Ethics ® by posting little current/relevant content while I am taking a blog sabbatical. [1]

 

 

shame

 

 

 

As you may already know, the Bloggers Code of Ethics ® is similar to many other historical charters, from Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights to the Port Huron Statement, it its ground-breaking declaration  [2] of and reflection on human rights…

 

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

 

 

…except that, OH FUDGESICLES, that’s right – there is no Bloggers Code of Ethics ®.  Nothing even close to it exists.

Either that, or I didn’t get the memo.

 

 

memo

That’s so precious – she thinks she is worthy of my memo.

 

 

 

Lest loyal readers think I have shirked my public interest responsibility, I shall bore the knickers off y’all keep you both entertained and informed by posting these reminders of the relevant celebrations unique to this day.

 

 

bored

Please, don’t keep us in suspense.

 

 

 

While you may know that June 9 is the 160th day of the year, you may not be aware that it is celebrated around the world as

* National Heroes Day in Uganda.

*Autonomy Day for the Åland Islands

* National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day

* National Donald Duck Day [3]

* Coral Triangle Day [4]

* National Earl Day

 

The latter day honors “legends” named Earl, from banjo whiz Earl Scruggs to basketball’s Earl “The Pearl” Monroe to SCOTUS chief Justice Earl Warren. In this every-kid-gets-a-trophy syndrome world it seems acceptable if not fitting that every Earl gets his day…but where could I find a mention of the most infamous Earl of all?

Right here, y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you get your trophy if not your day;
May you shamelessly violate nonexistent ethics codes;
May you be patient with this space for just another week;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] First pathetically presented  candidly mentioned in my May 26 post.

[2] This would be a good place for a footnote.

[3] Please don’t let me footnote this reference. Do you really want more information about such a day?

[4] A day to promote and raise awareness of the ocean conservation and protection, particularly that of “The Coral Triangle – aka the tropical marine waters of the Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands areas.

The Beer I’m Not Buying

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Department Of Except That It Was

Another week, another celebrity demise, another chance for everyone to get it wrong. But not in the way most people think.

I refer to friends and former coworkers of Erin Moran (best known for playing Joanie on Happy Days), who received a bit o’ splash back for their comments after her death. Some of the comments either directly mentioned or alluded to the actor’s well-known struggles with substance abuse as the likely cause of her death.

Indeed, the rush to remark upon and speculate about a famous person’s death is worthy of a modicum of scorn. It seems celebs often Twitter-trip over themselves to see who can be the first to express condolences and…opinions.  If, for whatever reasons, you feel the world needs your commentary within hours of the death notice, can you just say to her family and friends that you’re sorry for their loss, and leave it at that?

There’s more to the story. In my mind, at least. When it was revealed that Moran had been diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, the self-righteous gotcha! critics took aim at the self-righteous she-died-from-substance-abuse speculators:  Aha! Shame on you! It was cancer, it wasn’t drugs!

Except that it was.

There’s more ways to die from substance abuse or drug overdose or to have a drug-related death than by choking on your own vomit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of this writing, it appears that Moran died from throat cancer. Throat cancer is one of many cancers caused by cigarette smoking. Moran was a longtime cigarette smoker.

Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, DeeDee Ramone, Philip Michael Hoffman, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley – we’ve all heard or seen the list of hundreds if not thousands of musicians and actors, politicians and reporters and others in the public eye who’ve died of drug overdose/substance abuse.

George Harrison‘s name never appears on those lists, and that frosts my butt.

The Beatles’ lead guitarist and far too many of his comrades died from their chronic use of arguably the most powerful addictive substance – nicotine – known to humanity. However, their names do not appear in the annual toll of drug/substance abuse deaths.

Also not appearing on those lists: Yul Brynner, Spencer Tracey, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Peter Jennings, Desi Arnaz, Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Clooney, Bob Fosse, Warren Zevon, Sarah Vaughn, and the other musicians, actors and artists who died from lung cancer and other cigarette-related diseases.  Is it because their deaths were due to their addiction to a toxin which happens to be legal?  [1]

 

 

cig

*   *   *

Department of Prom Dress Rugby

Because how much fun is that?

 

 

 

Last weekend  MH and I made a road trip up to Tacoma, to visit daughter Belle,  [2]  who lives in a rental house off-campus. As always during our visits with her  [3]  we found an excuse to go onto the college campus, such as:

(1)  it is a beautiful campus, so who needs an excuse?

(2)  to view and/or participate in Some Interesting Event ®

(3)  see reason (1)

(4)  there is no reason (4)

In the case of (2), Some Interesting Event ® turned out to be Belle’s (former) rugby teammates suiting up for their annual Prom Dress Rugby match. A tradition amongst many college women’s – and some men’s – rugby teams, a PDR match is pretty much what it sounds like. The women get decked out in formal finery (worn over their usual game uniforms) and play serious rugby…or as serious as you can be while charging up the pitch with your feather boa dangling behind you or trying not to grind your tiara in your teammate’s ass during a scrum.

Referees of any gender – and often the men’s rugby team members, in solidarity – also don the festive attire (I imagine thrift shop owners local to colleges with PDR events are pleased at the spike in used formal wear sales).  Sometimes PDR events are mixed gender: not quite the Battle of the Sexes, more like The Battle Of Tuxes And Dresses, wherein the men’s team wear prom dresses and the women’s tuxedos, and the teams play an exhibition match against one another, usually to raise money for charity.

While Belle remains an active supporter of her school’s rugby teams, her class and work schedules have not allowed her to be a member of the women’s rugby team this year. I have mixed feelings about that. I love the fact that she has taken advantage of the opportunities around her, to try/learn new skills and activities (that’s what you do in college, right?), from lumberjack axe-throwing to rugby to kick boxing to being a disc jockey at her school’s radio station. I also and decidedly do not miss the weekly (no exaggeration  [4] ) bills MH and I  received, during her sophomore year, from various doctors, hospital, physical therapy, urgent care and other medical facilities – bills which resulted from an enthusiastic and but relatively petite young woman participating in so physical an activity.

 

 

rugbygirl

Image not to scale.

Department Of How Can I Make This About Moiself

Via Belle’s participation in the sport, the more I learned about the forthright and festive and playful “culture” of college rugby, the more I wish I had further pursued an invitation to join the UC Davis women’s rugby team.

 

 

 

 

tellmemore

 

 

 

I was involved in athletics throughout high school. During my senior year, after I had been accepted at The University of My Choice ® (aka UC Davis), I received a letter from the UCD Athletic department. The letter was both brief and fawning – a note saying they’d heard of my athletic “accomplishments” and were thus extending me the honor of an invitation to try out for their field hockey team.  [5]  I had a good laugh showing the letter to my family, and then responded with a letter of my own, in which I briefly and non-fawningly declined the invitation.

I’d enjoyed my various school sport adventures, from field hockey to volleyball to track & field to badminton, but I’d had enough of schedules and practices. While I intended to try out the occasional intramural sport while in college – and is there any game more fun than inner tube water polo[6] – I viewed my continuing participation in team sports as…well, as so high school. College was going to be a new thing, much more intense academically than high school, I assumed (and hoped), and I didn’t want to tie myself down to any other time-consuming extracurricular schedule.

I can’t exactly recall how she found me, but early in my first quarter of my college freshman year a short but strapping young woman knocked on my dorm room door one afternoon.  She said she was on the women’s rugby team, and asked if I’d be interested in attending a rugby scrimmage, as an observer. She’d gotten my name from the UCD field hockey coach, and while she was aware that I wasn’t interested in being on the UCD field hockey team, she figured that my having been a hockey player meant I must like sports requiring running and endurance, and the rugby team was seeking new players….

What the heck; I had a free afternoon. Like most Americans then (or now, I’d wager), I knew next to nothing about rugby, and thought it might be a jolly good show to watch something that required an effort of concentration for moiself, as a spectator, to try and figure out what the heck was going on.

 

 

       

rugbydance

Watched it; still didn’t know what the heck was going on.

 

 

 

 

While not vain about my appearance, [7]  I was fond of (most of) my body parts and in particular my teeth; thus, after observing two scrums, I thought, I’m outta here.

A minute after coming to that conclusion I chided moiself for making such a snap judgment – or for, as The Young People Of Today ® say, for getting’ all judgy.

I stayed for the rest of the practice. In an attempt to be cordial and to also learn more about the sport, I made conversation with She Who Had Invited Me. It turns out SWHIM didn’t know much more about the rules than what I, a newbie observer, was deducing moment by moment. Still, SWHIM was filled with enthusiasm for her new sport. She told me she’d participated in everything from field hockey to basketball to softball to swimming in high school, and had decided that rugby was the best game, ever.

I stopped prodding her about regulations and strategy, and asked what she personally found so enjoyable about rugby. The skills required? The workouts? The strategy? The…?

“Oh, it’s just the best!” she gushed. “After every game, we party with the men’s team. AND THEY BUY ALL THE BEER !!”

 

promrugby

 

*   *   *

May you be cognizant of which drugs you use or abuse;
May you realize that the best use for a prom dress has nothing to do with the prom;
May the other team always buy all the beer;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] But alcohol is legal, and alcohol poisoning and related deaths are included on those lists.

[2] A junior at the University of Puget  Sound.

[3] And prior to that, with her brother, K, who graduated from the same school three years ago.

[4] I thought we check into running a tab at the Tacoma Urgent care clinics.

[5] The honor did not include mention of a scholarship or any $$$.

[6] Which was invented at UC Davis, ahem and hurrah!

[7] Then, as now, I walked around looking like…well…looking like moiself.

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