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The Hedgerow I’m Not Bustling

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Department Of I’m So Glad This One Made It Over The Fence

I refer of course to the Guatemalan blue banana squash, which was in our CSA share this week.   [1]

I’m not sure about the name; to moiself it looks more like a model of the Goodyear Blimp that had accidentally been zapped in a food dehydrator.

It’s almost too cute to cut. Methinks it will end up in a curry with some greens, or my fallback method:  when in doubt, roast it and turn it into soup.

 

 

bluebananasquash

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 Department Of Why I Feel I Must Apologize To Someone I’ve Never Met

There is, apparently, a designer with the unfortunate name of Helen Ficolora. I say unfortunate because, through no fault of Helen’s, who is likely proud of the Italian heritage indicated by her surname, the first time People Like Me ® hear her name we are likely to mishear it, and blurt out,  Helen FECAL FLORA? – what kind of name is that !?!

 

 

exclamation chip

You’re right – this picture has nothing to do with this blurb, but do you really want to see what I came up up with to illustrate fecal flora?

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking Of Designers  [2]

Those with no too much time on their hands attentive attentive readers may remember the post from last month (9-1-17) regarding the t-shirts MH made for our eclipse viewing party:

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.  [3]

MM contacted MH and let him know that the startorialist astronomers had noticed our group’s groovy shirts, and had asked for more photos and info on how the shirts were made, which they intended to post on one of their upcoming blog posts.

Upcoming is here: http://www.startorialist.com/ . Look for the link in the September archives.

 

 

eclipse

Look – there go our fifteen minutes – make that seconds –  of fame!

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of They’re Too Young to Get the Eleanor Rigby Reference

One route of the several routes I vary during my morning walks takes me through a local park around 7:50 am. At that time I typically see ~ 10-12 students, coming from all compass points, walking through the park, toward their bus stop.  A bus to the high school stops on the street which marks the eastern boundary of the park, at a point where one of the park trails veers off from the sidewalk. It is a prime people-watching opportunity for moiself, , albeit an increasingly disheartening one. Here is what I observed on Monday, which is, unfortunately, becoming par for the course.

I approached the park from the east, walking toward and then past the (unmarked) bus stop, and noted the students walking, from various directions, through the park, toward the street. Except for three gangly-buff, football player-ish looking boys who are standing within four feet of each another on the sidewalk, none of the students come together as a group. One stops under a tree, within 30 or so feet of the stop, and another goes to a picnic bench and several others all pick their own spots, some stopping in the middle of one of the park’s walking paths, within viewing distance of where the bus will pull up to the curb.  I walk past them and turn around to check out the scene…and then walk back the way I came so that I can brazenly look into their faces from about twenty feet away. Their eyes are glazed, and they pay me no mind.

Most of the students are wearing earbuds, and although it is a warm day, several of them have their hoodies pulled over their faces, and all of them – every goddamn one – are looking down at the their cell phones, captivated – read: numbed – by what, I can only guess. No student interacts with another person or with their environment, save to glance up every ten seconds or so toward the street, to see if the bus is approaching.

I remain there, watching for a while. No one watches me in return. None of them are smiling; their faces are devoid of expression. Even the four boys standing by or “with” each other are not talking to each other. And I am overwhelmed by the thought that whatever they are doing, however “social” they (think they) are being through their phone media, no matter what kind of “friend“  they may be interacting with via their tiny screens, they all look so…isolated.  And so incredibly lonely.

 

 

 

allthelonely

*   *   *

Goodbye, Mr. Christmas

Mr. Christmas has died.

I don’t know if either son K or daughter Belle remember the trip we made to his house. It many years ago, when we were in the Bay Area (specifically Concord, CA) visiting with my younger sister, RAPV, and her family, who were hosting our extended family fore Thanksgiving. The day after Tday RAPV insisted she had something special to show us, and that night we made the pilgrimage to Olive Dr., to see an ordinary house turned into a light spectacle…well, I thought my retinas would go into spasms. [4]

Bruce Mertz, the Concord man known around Contra Costa County as ‘Mr. Christmas’, has died. He was 87.
Mertz owned the home on Olive Dr. in Concord, and for 36-years during Christmastime, he decorated his home with thousands of lights and custom made characters.
A documentary about Mertz was made by filmmaker Nick Palmer in 2014.
(from Claycord News & Talk, 10-11-17)

 

 

 

mrchristmas

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Two Sad Stories In A Row – Must Be Time For The Scotsman

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of I So Would Have Said It If He’d Been Wearing A Led Zeppelin Tee Shirt

Dateline: Last Friday, at the Whole Foods  [5] register. A man standing behind line dropped a paper bag as he was transferring the items in his hand cart to the register belt. I don’t know what was in the bag – but something made a loud, crackling sound when the bag hit the floor, and I turned to see if anything had broken or if the man needed assistance. As the man bent down to retrieve the bag he looked up, an expression of agitation on his face…and it just came to me in a flash.

I almost said to him, “You seem alarmed; is there a bustle in your hedgerow?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you know the simple pleasure of contemplating an oddly-shaped winter squash;
May you hold in your heart, for just a moment, all the lonely people;
May you realize that the bustle in your hedgerow is just a spring clean for the May Queen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Our CSA is La Finquita del Bujo, or “Little Farm of the Owl,” in the scenic farmlands north of Hillsboro.

[2] Even if you weren’t, we can pretend.

[3] The blog’s motto: Where science meets fashion and scientists get fabulous!

[4] Mr. Christmas had a donation box attached to the (light-bedecked, of course) fence around his yard – I can only imagine his electric bill.

[5] Brought to you by Amazon ®

The Seasonal Spice I’m Not Appreciating

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Departments of Heroes and Villains

First, the good guys:

Goodbye to one of Oregon’s – and the nation’s – finest.  Donald G. Malarkey, a WWII paratrooper and NCO with the 101st Airborne Division’s legendary Easy Company, died on September 30, at age 96.

Malarkey’s story, and those of his fellow Easy Company paratroopers, is told in the finest historical miniseries of all time (IMHO, but don’t even attempt to argue with me), based on the book of the same name, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers.

Several times in this space  [1] have I mentioned my fondness for the series, and how much the series meant to my father (also a WWII paratrooper).  Like everyone I’ve spoken with who’s watched the HBO series, I became absorbed in some way with each of the very different soldiers’ very different stories. That said, Malarkey (portrayed by the terrific actor, Scott Grimes  [2] ) stood out in many ways. It was engrossing and heart-tugging to watch him transform from the wise-cracking, amiable, optimistically brash private in paratrooper training to the haunted lieutenant, a veteran of some of the most bloody and decisive battles of the ETO. In the series’ interviews with the surviving members of Easy Company, the real (i.e. non actor) Malarkey evinced the survivor’s pain and humility (Why am I here and my buddies are not?), decades after the incidents portrayed in the series, that came from seeing his good friends blown to bits and/or severely maimed.

A far better tribute to your country than standing and saluting a damn piece of cloth “the flag” would be to educate yourself about The Big War, which continues to affect politics and policies, for good and ill, to this day. Band of Brothers offers a slim time portal…a window through which to look back at what so many of our fellow citizens – our friends and family – endured (and sacrificed) during those times.

 

 

 

Malarkey

 

*   *   *

 

different

 

 

Department Of Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish… And One Regressive Sexist Pig

The good riddance news: Hugh Hefner is (finally!) dead.

The bad news: people keep eulogizing him as if he were some kind of progressive pioneer and/or First Amendment activist.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yeah, really.

Hugh Hefner was a First Amendment activist the in the same way that my cousins who used the N-word were free speech advocates.

As an op-ed piece in The Independent put it,

To claim that Hefner was a sexual liberationist or free speech idol is like suggesting that Roman Polanski has contributed to child protection.
( “Hugh Hefner was the ultimate enemy of women – no feminist anywhere will shed a tear at his death” Julie Bindel, The Independent )

Friend RE noted with disgust on Facebook that people are “…holding Hugh Hefner up as some sort of humanitarian, or even making jokes that indirectly show admiration for this absolute scum of a person.”

Just the idea of using those three H words – Hugh and Hefner and humanitarian – in the same sentence is ludicrous.  If you were to publish a book about Hugh Hefner’s “humanitarianism” it would be one of the smallest books every printed, vying for that claim with Saudi Arabian Sports Legends, The Wit and Wisdom of Dick Cheney, and Authentic French Vegan Cookery.

Some feminists felt they had to make an uneasy alliance with HH, due to his financial support for abortion rights when times were tough in the pro choice movement. [3] But HH, a profiteer of mid-twentieth century/post-WWII prudery, [4] didn’t give a lecherous rat’s ass about women’s right to self-determination and bodily integrity. Rather, his support for abortion rights fit into his philosophy of as much sex as possible with as many women as possible…and some of them are going to get pregnant, and if you can convince them to have an abortion you don’t have to marry them and/or pay child support.

I even ran across a blurb lauding HH for supporting “feminist causes.” That would be news to the Predator-in-Chief, himself, who in an infamous 1970’s memo (leaked by secretaries at Playboy) lambasted a reporter, who thought she’d been assigned to do an objective story on the Women’s Movement for Playboy magazine, for not doing a hatchet job on feminists:

“These chicks [feminists] are our natural enemy,” wrote Hefner. “It is time we do battle with them… What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart.”

Finally, some harsh reflections and truth-telling have been getting through (Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner, and How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, and this piece in Salon,  among others)…which, apparently, is upsetting to some HH fans.

One Trump fan and singer who says she’s known Hefner since she was a teenager is beseeching commentators, “Please don’t trash a man with class.” [5]

 

 

yeahright

 

 

A tRump fan who thinks HH was a man with class? What a shocker.

I don’t know what flipped my stomach more over the years – the pajama-clad pimp himself, or the fact that many people thought it “hip” or “classy” to be associated with a third rate smut peddler sporting a fourth rate dye job. Some celebs thought it was a sign of coolness to be invited to the Playboy mansion. Bill Cosby was a frequent Playboy mansion guest…yet another shocker. Perhaps it was there that Cosby learned his Quaaludes strategy for “allegedly” drugging and then raping women. Hefner was a fan of the powerful sedative, which he often pressured his girlfriends and “bunnies” to take – he referred to Quaaludes as thigh openers.

Excuse me, tRrump fan, you were saying something about a man with class?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Enough Is Enough

‘Tis the season, again. And again and again and again.

Come October, it used to be you couldn’t walk within 30 feet of a Starbucks without getting a whiff of a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin spice chai or pumpkin spice frappuccino.  But now, in 2017: pumpkin spice – it’s not just for coffee shops anymore.

Have you noticed?  It’s everywhere. There are, of course, pumpkin spice scented candles and baked goods.  But, hey, Pumpkin Spice Industry ® , y’all be gettin’ outta hand.  I came across a pumpkin spice bathroom deodorizer. Finally, humanity has the means with which to fool guests to our homes into thinking that it was a festive autumn squash dessert which took a dump in our toilets!

 

rejoicing

And there was much rejoicing.

 

 

And the other goods…yikes. These are just some of the pumpkin spice products I’ve seen/heard of in the past week:

* pumpkin spice chutney
* pumpkin spice pasta
* pumpkin spice shampoo and conditioner
* pumpkin spice body lotion
* pumpkin spice antiperspirant
* pumpkin spice toothpaste
* pumpkin spice doggy chew toy
* pumpkin spice cough drops
* pumpkin spice vinegar

 

You can even purchase a pumpkin spray on spice, to apply to presumable anything that has somehow escaped being pumpkin-ized. (the spray’s how-to-use instructions include this evocative suggestion: Awaken your breakfast.)

 

 

 

bfast

“Yo, breakfast – wake up or I’ll use the spray…”

 

 

 

 

 

The last straw  [6] was yesterday, when I picked up our mail and saw one of those catalogs targeted towards Women of a Certain Age ®…addressed to moiself.  Y’all Lady Folks know what I’m talking about? You’ve never purchased anything from such a catalog, never even knew they existed, and then one day you start getting them in the mail.  [7] They have titles like, As We Change, Soft Surroundings, The Golden Times, and The Best is Yet To Come (which, I think, would be a slogan better suited to selling ED drugs to Men Of A Certain Age ® ).  

 

 

 

as we change

 

 

Oy vey.  I suppose it’s a better title than

As We Shrivel Up and Blow Away:
Feel Like a Nap, Look For Your Eyeglasses, Live Just To Spite Your Heirs

Yet again, I digress.

So, I get this catalog, and discover it contains a little foil sampler packet sample….of a pumpkin spice….ahem….”personal lubricant.”

I kid you not.

 

 

 

kirkscream

That’s…just…WRONG.

 

 

 

 

Okay, that was a (fragrance-free) lie. But the way things are trending, I betcha next year I won’t have to make up anything like that. Anyway, the point:  people, pleeeeeeease, stop. Pumpkin spice your pumpkin pie, and leave the rest alone.

 

 

 

pumpkin

Do I *look* like I want extra foam on my pumpkin spice latte?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May the spice in your life be anything but pumpkin;
May you feel free to trash a classless man;
May you appreciate the true heroes in life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like here, and here, and here….

[2] Currently piloting a starship in the TV sci-fi drama/comedy, The Orville.

[3] And many others thought he sought to excuse his exploitation of women by “buying” feminist sympathy, or at least toleration, by throwing money at pro choice organizations.

[4] Who profited greatly from said prudery, for if nudity and sexuality were truly considered healthy and natural, where would be the fun – and why pay for the opportunity – in sneaking behind the bushes and looking at nudie magazines?

[5] As quoted in How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, Slate.com

[6] Strangely enough, the straw was not pumpkin-spiced.

[7] I know the gummint is worried about an impending Social Security crisis, but is the SSA selling their data base to marketers?

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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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 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.

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