Friday, June 30, 2006

Any place you are is home

Here is how
we meet
for now -
cut the wind in two
so it will caress you,
like my hand against your cheek
reaching across the miles
from temporal exile.
Carry a bag of grapefruit,
spicy Turkish apricots,
sweet vinegar
kale and coffee beans
call it your burden –
my head upon your shoulder.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Les mains sales dans le salle de bains

From the Bathroom of the Boulder City, Nevada Taco Bell -

This amused me, mostly because it's precisely something my mother might say, and imperiously.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Apparently I alluded to my birthday too often for someone's tastes, like "about a thousand." I only count three, which is of course quite close to a thousand, but here's one more:

That, of course, was years ago. I think it's my third or fourth birthday (that's my sister behing me), in the old elephant house at the Portland zoo. This time I spent my Monday was spent trimming out a living room, sweating in unusually hot and humid weather, then working at the yoga studio until close. When I arrived at 4:00pm, RPP and Rima surprised me with a cake, song, and a scary clown banner across the front desk. I was supposed to be out by 8:30, but got run over by a train, and had to work until 10:30 to get the mess sorted out.

Still, the surprise was so sweet, and I got lots of calls and some good gifts from the mom, too. Oh and two bouquets, 'cause girls always like flowers.

And I bought myself this (very excited) -

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


"To give anything less than everything is to sacrifice the Gift."

- Steve Prefontaine (1951-1975)

Monday, June 26, 2006

And a Happy Birthday to You, Sgt. Aytch

...even though I'm a day late, and surely a dollar short. What does a Sapporo cost over there? Put it on my tab.

He Should Work for Hallmark

Possibly the funniest greeting I've ever received for such an occasion:

"B and I will be in SF through Monday night, so I thought I'd wish you well before we go. Let me know if there will be a public celebration of some sort that we can attend. If so, I will perform the following ten duties in this order:

1. standard happy birthday greeting
2. friendly embrace with added twelve seconds
3. ass grab
4. run with wolves
5. vulcan mind-meld
6. malachi crunk*
7. 54 blocks**
8. name that accent
9. dry hump
10. kyudo,*** pavane and promenade

Maybe you shouldn't invite me.


I will certainly have to hold him to this, though

* can only presume he means "crunch." or maybe the song became a dance.
** dunno what this one is. Jenga?
*** Huck, you probably practice that.

That's a man playing a pavane.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday School

In tiny letters, the name of the church includes "Apostatic." Maybe those of you with better knowledge out there can clue me into what that means (as well as the significance of the hyphen followin "Lord we..."). My understanding was that an apostate was someone who had abandonded his religious beliefs. But at this church, why would you?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Midsummer Time

Today I'll let another speak of this thing called a midsummer's eve. From my mythological expert friend, Cathy:

"The Celts celebrated Midsummer's Eve (June 24) as a time of magic, both good and bad; a time when the faerie folk once again come through the veils between the worlds to dance with us mortals. But most of all, we acknowledge Summer Solstice as a time for lovers, for at the moment of the sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth, when the Sun fertilizes the Earth
with His heat, and She becomes pregnant with Life. But there is a cost to all of this, for the Summer King must fight for his Flower Bride with the Winter King, and although the Summer King overcomes the darkness and cold of the Winter King, yet will the darkness finally overcome him once the summer is over."

Or this, from "Billy Shakes," you can guess the play -

The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

...The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve;
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.

So go be mirthful, friends.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Summer Solstice!

By dusk you can truly say, "That was the longest day."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


...Or nearly so. Yet another critter ran out in front of my car tonight. This time it was a polecat. SO GLAD I didn't hit him, my car would have smelled like rotting cabbage and burning tires for weeks.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Why I Read "The Company Bitch"

For little gems like this.


I dreamed Friday night of waking to a light snow falling outside my second-story bedroom window. I was in the house on 21st St., and opened my eyes to see the whiteness beginning to cover the porch roof below. Everything seemed quite gray outside, except for the delicate dapplings falling into place. So it was a lovely, quiet and simple sort of dream, and I was quietly surprised to find myself there.

Someone responded to my writing about this childhood home (fourth of seven, but the one I inhabited the longest), that "From the way you describe the house and your life in it, that sounds like a subliminal desire to go back to it with a can of kerosene and a book of matches."

I had uttered a wish for clean up of residual feeling left in me that was fostered in that place. Really that's a purification of self, not of the home. I would be horrified if something happened to it - I loved the house, as much as I feared it.

A source of great pleasure to me, the house was quite beautiful, if in dire need of renovation. It was a thing my mother tried to do, even under the constraints of a ridiculously avaricious husband.

There were coffered ceilings, elaborate wood panelling in the dining rooms, parquet floors - not the chevron pattern, rather a dark wood inlay double border around the perimeter of the floors, which geometrically scrolled in the corners. There were gas fireplaces in the master bedrooms, bevelled glass book cases, window seats, an amazing china hutch in the "Boston Style" interior of the other side, which had opaque circles of rose glass, arranged to represent an ornamental cherry tree in Spring. The architect of this home was at the forefront of the movement to incorporate Arts & Crafts style into the U of O architectural school of which he was Dean, and the house bore his mark. Even the simple fact of having the porch roof under the window by my bed was a comfort. I could sometimes sit out there with my cat, and when it rained, as it often does in Portland, the gently percussive sounds calmed me like a lullaby. I don't know exactly why, but the sound of rain was safety.

In the back yard, we had an eighty-year-old Queen Anne cherry tree, tall as our three storied home. Much like Rainier's, the Queen Anne's a pale but blushing girl, and so sweet she's often used for Maraschinos. Take a lady and make a Vegas showgirl out of her. In June I nearly took residence up there in her branches, eating fruit the birds hadn't yet stolen.

We had second-story sleeping porches on the backside of the house, where I truly did live all summer. It was like camping every night, but with a tiny Sony television, and a real bed. Sometimes, when my step-brothers visited from South Pasadena, the eldest would share the porch with me. Late night, I watched the original Saturday Night Live and Benny Hill, listened to the wind and the critters, got eaten by mosquitos, and sometimes scaled down an adjacent tree to ground level, so I could illegally scamper off to the 7-11 four blocks away for candy or a pint of ice cream. Somehow I never got caught, little as I was and late as it was. But every kid likes to play the Cat Burglar now and then, even if no one knows about it.

When the other half of our duplex lay vacant, I would play in the vast rooms, imagining all sorts of histories that must have occurred there. There was a dumb waiter from the kitchen to the cellar. Both sides contained 'hidden' panels and floor boards in closets that lifted to reveal secret hiding places for valuables. I found old stamps and coins in one. There was a working six bell system on each side of the house, so servants could be summoned to the appropriate rooms. The box in the kitchen had arrows that directed you accordingly. Things like that are thrilling to an eight year old. You could pass through doors in the attic and the basement to go to the other side - which reminded me of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and of a similar dream I'd had before I'd read the book, about a red and white postbox I stepped into, and the world I found inside. So I expected something magical each time I ventured over there, and I suspect I usually got it, even if it was only something I constructed in my head.

That's the positive symptom of the immense sorrow I experienced living there. Though I seemed natively to possess a strong imagination, the conditions of my environment forced me really to develop that part of myself. If only to entertain, if only to remain sane.

But the dream of a day or two ago arrived gray and with snow. Sometimes snow is frozen feeling. Sometimes a blanket of snow is a purification.

Dating Advice

If he can't commit, you must acquit.

I scare myself when my 'humor' devolves into something belonging on a bumper sticker, or an office coffee mug, but there it is.

Noam is an island*

This from the blog, Red State Son

Army Of Noam

(Watch the clip of Noam Chomsky addressing West Point cadets on 4/20/06.)

"You'd think that when someone like Noam Chomsky speaks to West Point cadets about US imperial history and the high power hypocrisy that justifies it, there'd be a lot of online commentary, across the board. Personally, I didn't know anything about this until a friend mentioned it to me the other night -- so yesterday I looked it up, and there was Noam, laying down the righteous shit in front of an audience of well-scrubbed, soon-to-be butterbars. It's an hour long, but worth the time.

Noam, as always, starts slow, building his argument piece by piece, and from the looks on some of their faces, it seems that the cadets have been forced to eat cold canned spinach. But Noam then expands on what several "thinkers" like Michael Walzer consider "just war," a topic the cadets probably have already considered if not studied in class. The real fun comes during the Q&A, and I hope these young officers were taking serious notes. If Noam could impress someone as gung-ho as Pat Tillman, then he can reach pretty much anyone in uniform. And that's a good thing.

Notice, too, how much respect the cadets show Noam. Of course, part of this is their training, prefacing each question and comment with "sir." But I get the impression that the kids kinda dug the old man, who easily and graciously handled every query thrown at him. I actually found it touching, and wonder how the Noam haters felt about him receiving such a warm reception at a place like West Point. Noam was equally polite and respectful. Clearly, he doesn't consider these young men as mere cannon fodder for imperial war, as do certain bloated state propagandists in love with endless misery and death.

When I was in the Army, we didn't get speakers like Noam. We had to sit through assholes like Woody Hayes, the now-late Ohio State football coach. Hayes blustered on about the glories of war, talking about how we really stuck it to the Japs in the Big One. In fact, ol' Woody dropped the J-word several times, causing a couple of Japanese-American officers to walk out.

Needless to say, Noam is a huge improvement."

I tried and failed to find either the entire video or a transcript.

* Thanks to my bro for this title.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Puppy Love

right now i am dreadfully tired from a week's worth of too long days working outside in hot muggy weather. i should be sleeping, but my dog's head has taken up residence in the crook of my left arm, pinning it against my body because it weighs, like, fifteen pounds. i should be the one dreaming heavily at this point, but i can't bear to disturb him, as he's rarely this cuddly at sleep time. plus he's chasing rabbits in his sleep and whimpering, and i couldn't wrest him from such propititous circumstances. so i'll just go on typing, one-handed, until he wakens and jumps off the bed, then plops down on the floor like four twenty-five lb. sacks of potatoes. i couldn't possibly love this dog any more than i already do.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bumper Sticker

"Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it,"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Three Black-Eyed Bandits Wearing Masks

Tuesday night driving home from work I saw not one, not two, but three raccoons (plus one dark cat), that tried to run out in front of my car within the course of 10 minutes and two miles. Two were on the Shakespeare Bridge, and one was near my house. In nearly five years of living here, though I've seen deer on the hill behind my house, rats my dog has killed, skunks slipping around night's corners, and the usual bands of coyotes prowling and howling, I had never seen a raccoon.

I like to read meaning into such things, especially when they come in threes.

"Nature is a temple where, from living pillars,
Confused words are sometimes allowed to escape;
Here man passes, through forests of symbols,
Which watch him with looks of recognition"
--Charles Baudelaire

So what does this omen portend? My books offered a paucity of the stripe-tailed critters, so I searched on the internet and came up with disguise, dexterity, curiosity, swiftness, cleverness, banditry, magic, and "unmasking the truth helps one accept hidden aspects of the self, the ability to play many roles in life." Coons are also trickster figures. I don't know what it means.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

That Makes a Girl Tear Up

(but in a good way)

My brother wrote, about the Dylan post:
"it was nice to see the lyrics to Farewell Angelina. You probably don't remember but I used to sing that to you (along with lots of other songs)."

I didn't recall it (I was very little), but you see, I knew it was all embedded there for a good reason. Sometimes we remember what we don't remember, and in the deepest way.

Now we'll have to get him to tell what else he sang to me, while he played his guitar.

That's the sweetest thing ever.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sounds Like

This is a quick and short list of words I love to hear spoken, much like the now mythic status of the euphonious phrase, cellar door.


A good idea

...that doesn't happen, is no idea at all.

-Louis Kahn

That Cheers a Girl Up

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Farewell Angelina

Sometimes I fail to write because I feel I have nothing to say. The mystery of this is a paradox - it's usually that I've too much on my mind. Too much roiling around for me too put it down clearly, so I remain silent. Often that's when I substitute song lyrics or poems, sometimes they speak for me, sometimes it's just because the song's a favorite.

Yesterday I watched No Direction Home, the Scorsese documentary on Dylan that aired on PBS last fall. If you haven't seen it and care about music even just a little, I can't recommend it enough. Bob Dylan has been a presence in my life since I was old enough to perceive sound. I hadn't quite realized how ingrained in my psyche his music is until I saw it. I don't listen to him much anymore, and that's a real shame. There are worlds to explore... "Where have you been, my blue-eyed son?"

Put him on the list of rare artists whose work causes me to do my own. It's immediate, like a spark in a gas tank. And my God, that face of his. He wins and breaks my heart, all in the space of a minute.

It's strange, for some reason I couldn't stop thinking of Johnny Depp as I watched young Bob Dylan and his antics.

For now, here's one of so many I love; it fits the mood I'm in:

Farewell Angelina
The bells of the crown
Are being stolen by bandits
I must follow the sound
The triangle tingles
And the trumpet play slow
Farewell Angelina
The sky is on fire
And I must go.

There's no need for anger
There's no need for blame
There's nothing to prove
Ev'rything's still the same
Just a table standing empty
By the edge of the sea
Farewell Angelina
The sky is trembling
And I must leave.

The jacks and queens
Have forsaked the courtyard
Fifty-two gypsies
Now file past the guards
In the space where the deuce
And the ace once ran wild
Farewell Angelina
The sky is folding
I'll see you in a while.

See the cross-eyed pirates sitting
Perched in the sun
Shooting tin cans
With a sawed-off shotgun
And the neighbors they clap
And they cheer with each blast
Farewell Angelina
The sky's changing color
And I must leave fast.

King Kong, little elves
On the rooftoops they dance
Valentino-type tangos
While the make-up man's hands
Shut the eyes of the dead
Not to embarrass anyone
Farewell Angelina
The sky is embarrassed
And I must be gone.

The machine guns are roaring
The puppets heave rocks
The fiends nail time bombs
To the hands of the clocks
Call me any name you like
I will never deny it
Farewell Angelina
The sky is erupting
I must go where it's quiet.

Bob Dylan
Copyright © 1965

Friday, June 09, 2006

Boulder to Birmingham

I don't want to hear a love song
I got on this airplane just to fly
And I know there's life below
But all that it can show me
Is the prairie and the sky

And I don't want to hear a sad story
Full of heartbreak and desire
The last time I felt like this
It was in the wilderness and the canyon was on fire
And I stood on the mountain in the night and I watched it burn
I watched it burn, I watched it burn.

I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace.
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
If I thought I could see, I could see your face.

Well you really got me this time
And the hardest part is knowing I'll survive.
I have come to listen for the sound
Of the trucks as they move down
Out on ninety five
And pretend that it's the ocean
coming down to wash me clean, to wash me clean
Baby do you know what I mean

I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace.
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
If I thought I could see, I could see your face.

- Emmylou Harris/ Bill Danoff, 1975

This song was written for Gram Parsons after he died.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Exactly Who Is Dancing on Their Graves, Ann?

Apparently 9-11 widows aren't allowed to have a p.o.v., at least according to Ann Coulter. I guess that means no one with a personal experience of something should be addressing the broader body politic - that's the sole province of the erudite and the governing. Sound like democracy to you?

Much as I dislike her, I have always found Ann Coulter to be a very intelligent (if one can be called that when so lacking in feeling), and well-spoken woman, though I have never agreed with much of anything that comes out of her acerbic mouth. She is so mean, even her frame is brittle. I've seen her in debates with some serious contenders, and she always has this amazing unshakeable confidence. She'd call it 'infallibility.' However, as this video shows, she is really starting to lose her composure, to the point of ineloquence. Is it possible she knows she's on shaky ground these days? Really, attacking widows of the 9-11 tragedy? What finishing school did you go to? Even some right-wingers abhor her stance.

My real question is, why is she wearing a short-hemmed cocktail dress to promote her political tome (apparently Kathy Griffin agrees). What happened to the tailored Ann? And please note the crucifix at her throat - isn't this the same, if pared down, costume we saw on Madonna in the "Like A Virgin" video? Or maybe it was Lucky Star? In any case, it's definitely early Madonna, and writhing around on a gondola would do Ann Coulter some good.

(For the full Matt Lauer interview, click on the post title.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

2211 NE 21st St.

I didn't grow up like you grew up. I grew up surrounded by books, the static of a television, and the walls of an old towering house with too much history and not enough warm. I lived through years of eternal solitary silences after being torn from the company of three elder siblings and the hum of my mother's hyperactive sewing machine. I settled into cold quiet corners of over-large rooms and waited for someone to come home. And when they wouldn't, I scraped around in the fridge and ate raw bacon with my dog, thank god for my dog, and thank god for my cat, and peanut butter and too many Oreo cookies. And thank god I never got trichinosis. And later, when they still weren't there, I put myself to bed and wondered at the immense space and endless quiet of that old dark house.

Sometimes I challenged myself to open closet doors or brave the attic, with its old servants' quarters, and that creepy storage room, which bared its rafters like teeth. And the inverted star scratched in the cement wall, the one with sinister adornments in red paint - who put that there? That house whispered a lot of secrets through its drafty rooms. But no one bothered to kept a secret about the woman who killed herself there - certainly not my mother, who told me when I was nine. Just like she couldn't keep quiet about the ghosts she and my step-brother claimed they saw there too. Right there in that house that creaked and groaned because, you know, houses can move. And houses can close in. How funny those stories, those stories they told me. How funny that I was the only one ever left behind to think about them by myself, for myself, those stories I mostly tried not to think about at all.

And that was the worst part, not the stories or being afraid, but the alone. Alone is a bottomless crevasse that makes you forget about the rhythm of time and the patterns of being. Alone is a life made completely abstract, abstract at an age too small for abstractions. Alone is a purgatory, but a punishment for you don't know what. Alone like that - stretched out over the infinite hours - feels like falling and falling with no one to catch you. That's when you taste the first lesson of despair.

So now, although I've conquered the dicomfiture of loneliness enough that I actually crave moments of solitude, I pray not to be left alone for the rest of my life. Being alone seems pointless. One wants union, one seeks reflection, donation, and the warmth of someone's hand. One wishes for the last sweep out of the ghosts, caught in the sticky skeins that cob attic spaces of memory.

You are what you eat

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Eve Pull Down the Apple

Which tree are you? Find your birthdate.
Mine's 6/26 - (Jun 25 to Jul 04 & Dec 23 to Dec 31 - Apple Tree)

APPLE TREE (the Love) - of slight build, lots of charm, appeal, and
attraction, pleasant aura, flirtatious, adventurous, sensitive, always
in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner,very
generous, scientific talents, lives for today, a carefree philosopher
with imagination.

what if a much of a which of a wind

gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't; blow death to was)
-all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

-- e. e. cummings

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Let's Do It Like They Do On The Discovery Channel

A woman in India married a cobra. Brings a whole new meaning to 'ride the snake.'

Can't get away from these reptiles nowadays.

You Say It's Your Birthday

You're 26 today, Jed! Happy New Year, Sir! Have fun in the Apple, but can't believe you're depriving the left coast of the opportunity to fete you. Sorry my blog got you in a spot of trouble - just tell them that simulations aren't the same as the real thing.

Kiss kiss!

When Life Imitates Art

Even before the art is released...

We've got snake on a plane!!


Yesterday afternoon on the way to work I had occasion to question the soundness of my mind. I had parked outside the Yoga studio, and the heat inside the car was sweltering, but NPR held onto me so tight I couldn't make myself get out into the fresh air. Why? Because they were reporting on the national spelling bee, in perticular, the part where a twelve-year-old boy spotted a mistake on the part of the judges, saving one child from wrongful elimination.

Anyway, my issue with all this is, simply, just how big of a dork am I? Pretty big I guess. This kind of shit thrills me. I don't know why, but I find it all very touching, particularly that completely entertaining documentary from a few years back. Maybe it's watching those well-meaning kids trying so hard, or maybe it's watching the tension they go through. Reminds me of the intensity of all those piano recitals and state competitions I had to endure in grade school. But this is better than that, because these kids seem to be having fun. It's the same jazz you get from watching sports, or some lucky bastard who just got told his granny's lamp is worth $35,000 on Antiques Roadshow (one of the only things I'll watch on tv, btw). In some circles I could be lambasted for comparing those two, but I'll take the risk.

It seems some grad students found the spelldown amusing enough to create a drinking game. This somewhat ameliorated my fears of complete nerditude, though I hadn't swilled anything, which probably placed me right back in the category of my fear. But then, they're grad students, so I guess we're in the same boat.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Doublemint Twins

I was at a daytime party, and finally met the identical brother of someone with whom I was already acquainted. Had an interesting conversation with both, then we three decided to guide ourselves on a tour of our hostess' home. Upon discovering a rather spacious closet, we stepped inside, and the edgier of the boys closed the door, while wearing a cheeky grin.

I grew characteristically nervous and giddy. It was getting a little hot in there. So, to cut the tension, I blurted in a manner not unseen in Diane Keaton, "Now I know how the Fonz felt."

Don't worry, nothing happened.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Thanks to all those of you who voted some time back, but I have returned to the Land of Blonde-dum, and I couldn't be happier. I look about ten years younger, for one. I can return to wearing all those colors in my wardrobe that went obsolete while I was a brunette, for another.

In other news, Levi constantly smells like maple syrup these days. No idea why. Sometimes I walk into my room and can tell he's been in there, simply because I start thinking about downing a shortstack of pancakes.