I’m posting this un-proofed, raw. To me this is the equivalent of taking a close-up picture of myself without make-up. Only worse.
On my list today: Organize Notes
This means collecting all the bits of paper and receipts I've written ideas, thoughts, etc. on, Notes from my phone, documents I’ve created or added to on my laptop, and compiling them digitally into a either designated folder, or my Writer’s Mission Control Center Excel doc.
The first Note from my phone I open up says: “Incense. Kingdome.” I get up and go to the little jewelry chest that holds the incense I was intending to offer up on Buy Nothing Shoreline with a little blurb about how I can’t burn incense when Joe’s in the house anymore because of the Kingdome Implosion Incident. [expand on incident here in one sentence]. But on my way there decide I need to dry my hair. I dry my hair and admire the result, which I know will never look this good again all day, so linger in the mirror. And think, dammit! I need to exercise, and take better care of myself! Take a Selfie for Joe regardless, delete it because my eyes don’t know where to look when I do a full-length mirror picture. Sexy, flowing-confident look today, but goofy eyes ruin it all. Back to incense. Decide there’s not a hoarder amount, I’ll keep it after all. Then on the way back to collected notes, I get hungry so stop for pizza leftover from last night. Delete first note about incense. Go to the sink to wash my empty coffee cup, but need to put away dishes in drainer before putting the cup in, including returning a metal straw to the side bar, which is where the junk drawer is that I’ve been organizing going on three days because there’s one thing I need to acquire first for the coup de grace of tidying, you know, before I feel I’m clever enough to post on Instagram/Facebook, but that would mean leaving the house to go to a store, in the rain, and I’d have to put shoes and a coat on, and I don’t absolutely have to leave the house until 6 tonight for a haircut, so turn back to the office nook to see the second slice of pizza on the kitchen island. It’s good, but the crust doesn’t compare to Joe’s, so I don’t eat the last bit like the skinny girls don’t, and voila! I’m on my way to a healthier new year just like that. Unless I lied about not eating the last bit of dry crust so I would sound like a better person, which maybe I did, you’ll never know, will you? Though, if Joe happens to look in the countertop compost pail he would see the bragged-about crust remains. Or not. And if not, would no doubt post a comment under this with a simple “No crusts were to be found.” And you’d all know I lied. Exaggerated. Embellished. Pour myself the last of the ginger ale from a couple days ago, that Joe brought home for my dizzy spells, into a stem-less wine glass from a wine festival we went to with my brother and his lovely then-girlfriend now-wife a few years ago, and think that if you’re thinking nice, summery white wine as you look at the liquid in the glass and take that first swallow of pretty-much flat ginger ale you’d swear you were drinking wine. (But wait, this glass is from a chocolate and wine Valentine's festival, entirely different from the Prosser Whiskey one!)
Was thinking about something I wrote a while ago on FB about how some days the only exercise I get is when I’m retracing my steps because I forgot what I was doing…went to FB to see what I actually did write, and was gone for a minute or so, then realized that I’d lost the original train, so decided to just sway my shoulders to the playlist I’m listening to, and type with my eys closed so it feels like I’m making the music with my finers typing. And then I realize: I’m stoned. I forgot about the edible I ate, or edded, a good new word for eating an edible, after the weight of the world, or rather my world with The World thrown in the background, wrapped around my neck and shoulders like an infinity scarf (I’ve been wanting to use that in a sentence for a while), post breakfast and shower, before I sat down to look at my Daily List.
And now here I am. Tingling hands floating in front of me a little farther away than they usually seem. And as I corrected my misspelling of ‘farther’ as ‘furhter’ I thought wouldn’t a ‘live-typed’ story, like you’d see what was originally typed and it’s progression, and the edit-as-you-go fashion I engage in, in real-time (or as ‘real’ as real in quotation marks could be real, because that implies it’s not real, you know? You do.) in certain cases be interesting to watch? I’m enjoying it as I’m dong it right now.
Write. At least I can check that off the list. As well as using the infinity scarf simile, though that’s not written on today’s list, just a general mental list. Having ‘use infinity scraf simile’ on a daily list would be odd. Maybe. TO you.O no. Cobweb I just saw when I tilted my head back to laugh. I’m going to get the duster, arean’t I? And then, as I see the words an sentences rapidly ineriorating detioriating, deteriorating, as I have to type slower and slower and I’m kinda swimming in beautiful sound and temperature, like a picture of a backlit hippie girl straddling some guy’s shoulders, sunlight in back, joyful and well, groovy. Dharma is meowing at me urgently, like some kind of Service Cat for stoned writers. “Get out! Get out” she’s telling me, claxon whiskers aquiver. “Stop writing now, because I know you need to write but you’d said you’d publish this raw, as it’s happening, and you can’t seem to stop, but please do. I’m Common Sense, I’m the Cat Who Knows. Trust me.” Swirling hyptonic cartoon eyes like the snake in the Jungle Book. Hip Tonic would be a great home brew name, or a band. The cat went away, seeing I was a lost cause. But the stale ginger ale is gone and I’m feeling thirsty, and I’m grateful for that thirst because I’m hoping it will break me away from this spell of free form writing, because I’m exposing myself. But who should really care except for me? I’m I trying to ommunicate comuic m communicate. I’m sorry I was laughing really hard as I was not able to COMMUNICATE what I was trying to say because I couldn’t spell that word.
After I got the cobweb I whapped the feather duster outside against the Buddha belly of our rain barrel, and he is tickled.
OMG this is like drunk-dialling The World! AKA Facebook. You’re welcome, Facebook. How does one get paid for doing something like this? Am I entertaining? I’M laughing! But, you know. This water is leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.
I imagine as I go on here I’ll be starting to normalize soon. Oh hi, Dharma.
Such an excellent Guide Cat. That would be a good job, to train Guide Cats for people who get carried away.
On my list today: Organize Notes
This is going great!
Seriously. I can’t make this tshi up. I’m going to go see if there’s any of that kettle corn left. Dang. What if my alter edo, my uninhibited self, is the real writer. Not me. But that self is really me, too, yes? When did I start doing that, I wonder: ending a sentence in ‘yes’ or ‘yeah?’ or ‘no?’ instead of the old school ‘isn’t it? or ‘right?’ Slangologists get on that, will ya?
Maybe this water should be tea. It’s cilly, chilly here in the office nook (ooo! What if I called this place eht Writer’s Nook! no that’s a group I’m in) Silly and CHilly. The light outside has changed since I first sat down here to type, innocently, I do have to say and did, I’m so sorry real, and fellow, writers; I know you are cringing as you ride with me, ‘Get that sad mess off the stage, she’s making us look bad!’ or ‘ She’s revealing our secret: that all writers are using their alter egos – and now I remember with a not-unpleasant (…I recall a book I just read that used that sort of phrase a lot, to a point of irritation because you have to stop and think exactly what that feeling is: not unpleasant, but not pleasant enough to not have that not. Anyway, there you go), I remember with a not-unpleasant shudder that I used alter ‘edo’ up there and saw it was wrong and just. Left. It. And I still might. I need Dharma, Guide Cat to come back and lead me to a fur nap.
I was hoping this would be short enough to simply post on the Notes From Shorelandia Facebook page, but I’ve gone on for a surprisingly (so sorry, wide-and-rolling-eyed writers) long time, and I fear I’m going to go one ugly step further and post it on my actual NFS website, that does exist on its own, accessible from a web search, I imagine, or stumbled-upon, more likely, but nonetheless there. Don’t know why I would fear. Why have a blog if I don’t want people to share in my writing. That’s what reading is, right? (You saw that, right? Oh no I’m in a redundant loop.)
I could freakin’ roll in this chair to make myself tea, but I haven’t yet. The water is still bitter. I think about the turns-out-to-be-vegan dinner I’m making tonight. Forget why I thought that. And I thought I was getting better. Where are those purple cashmere (why is it called cashmere? is it like baby wool?) I’m not Googling it on purpose. You do it and tell me. Cashmere fingerless gloves, with the little velvet strip and button?. Because my hands are still cold. Which is not-entirely pleasant. So. Just pleasant enough not to do anything about it. So not dangerous. The song I’m listening to said “black eye” but it sounded like “black guy” and it worked either way in the song. I wonder if I’ll read this over before I let it loose. Do I trust myself? And if I do, do I trust my self that would naturally do at least a mild, off-handed looksee, or my self that would be true to myself (sigh), and do as promised: exposed, unedited.
Had a pee, made some tea. Retrieved gloves. (If you left out the tea, I’d sound like a smart dog.) Remembered it is harder to type when you wear gloves without fingers. Ha, ha! I mean, not like you don’t have any fingers and you’re wearing gloves, which would be I’m going to risk saying, nearly impossible, but fingerless gloves, which I would have said in the first place but I was tired of using hyphens, so worded it differently.
Seeing this picture I just took of my hand I am bitterly reminded [insert story about internship and the hand model].
Impishly raw: I think that might be a definition of my writing style. A New York Times Book Review blurb on the back of my first book. Or…wait for it…. a band name! Or a drink. That tricky trio. Drunken Sailor? A drink, a writing style, or band playing at the Tractor? Dirty Divorcee Up Against the Wall? Drink (and style of drink, Up against the wall, like shaken not stirred.) writing style, or band? I need a more positive drink example, but Neil Young is on my stream right now and that might not happen. Crzy Horse: Band name, drink, or writing sytle? Dharma just walked by, slowly, shaking her head. Not stirred.
Let’s see. It takes about 50 minutes to make the Cuban Quinoa Buddha Bowl, – I’m a little nervous about the avocado being too far gone (poor lass), though – but I have leftover quinoa I can use, so that’s got to shave off (which should just be shave, because how could one shave ‘on?’) some time, so if I want dinner to be ready by, say, 6 o’clock, or 5:45 so I have time to eat, when do I have to start making it, that’s a different time than now?
I’d buy, even at the age of 57, a tee-shirt printed with Impishly Raw. As long as the fabric was in black. And a woman’s tee, not a man’s tee. Nothing against the men, but the woman’s one just looks better on this woman’s body. All I’m saying.
Nearing 60, stay-at-home mom, (though the kid is 37 and not currently living with me, but has an uncertain future, which brings me full tilt around – which is gyroscopic, I think – to why the weight of my world was on these linebacker shoulders, way back this morning an hour or so before I opened this up to write), budding, late-blooming, whatever might happen or be happening…. I don’t remember where I wanted this to go, but I don’t want to just delete it because there has got to be something in there that is important to me.
I was just noting that I could make an em-dash with no problem in the paragraph above, yet my fingers struggled to recall where the parentheses keys were. Traitors, these fingers, I tell ya.
Yesterday I had so many of the boxes on my list filled. A nice sense of accomplishment. Today, the boxes are mostly gaping and empty, but I feel like I had a transformative massage; one of those that lifts you out of your self, your physical pains and mental worries, and let’s you float, warm, safe, not-unhappy, and free. Of course, unless the massage is at home you’ll always have to redress, and get home somehow, which will break the spell at one point. It always does. It’ll happen here too, but much more gradually.
As I sieve my way through the kettle corn dregs at the bottom of the bag I wonder will those un-popped kernels, the misogynistically named Old Maids of the vegetable world, really compost?
I keep sneaking over to Facebook to see if I’ve been selected as a giftee in my Buy Nothing group for this gorgeous little set of wooden and leather library stairs, so exciting to me I’d purposely shelve books higher just to use it. Not yet. Still hope, though. Then I got distracted by the first post I saw. And realized I do have a little mouse life right now, and am so grateful. I know it can’t last much longer, money is such a handy thing, but I am extremely appreciative to the one that’s keeping us going, in financial ways, and oh so much more. Thank you, Joe.
About the dinner: Turns out Joe threw out the questionable avocado this morning, so to replace the basic guacamole I mixed up Roasted red pepper, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cilantro, blistered olives, lime. Still missing something. White sharp cheddar for some umami and a thickener, making it not vegan anymore, but still vegetarian. Salt. It does the trick.
Joe and I listened to some Jimmy Buffet while we ate Mexican food for dinner, (semi – there were black beans and cotija cheese). I’m a little bit high, I’m a little tipsy. It’s the one-year anniversary of my sister-in-law Tina’s sudden death, and these seemed a worthy tribute. Though, those who knew her would probably counter that with a sweet, loving, snarky “Only a little high?” eyebrow raised like the Rock.
I had a long, intensely-focused, 10-hours at work today, grateful for the necessary distraction. This included working at hyper-speed and accuracy with my main partner before and after break, being used as a training tool for at least a dozen new trainees, then switching to training a helper, taking a half-hour lunch, switching to a new newbie, who could only work until 5:30, and is abruptly swapped-out mid-task for a new freshly-trained human, or an FTH. Who happened to smell, sound and act in the manner of Tina. For the last 1-½ hours I sat shoulder-to-shoulder next to a woman whose clothes and hair smelled like Tina. Her brunette hair was the same length and tousled style. She wore similar clothes. Her voice held the heavy, familiar accent of the smoker, also Tina’s, at once nasal and husky. She plowed over a couple mispronunciations without shame or care, self-deprecating, non-apologetic, (FTH told me bluntly she was tired and hungry), and laughing. We bonded in moments.
I held on until we were through with our work, 3 minutes ahead of a hard deadline of 7PM. Then I told her about Tina’s death anniversary, and she hugged me. She cared and let me know she did, from her core; the way the really good humans do. The way Tina did.
As I was saying goodbye to one of our runners, I explained the hug. Her face grew furrowed in compassion and she conveyed her empathy. She then told me, “I don’t know how religious or spiritual you are, but she was placed with you for a reason. Your sister-in-law wanted to let you know she was here with you today.” I get goose bumps typing it even now, as I did when she spoke in her warm, Sunday school-teacher voice.
Now is not the time to share my beliefs and/or disbeliefs. But I like the thought of Tina hanging out with all of us who knew and loved her today.
“It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane”
Day 1, about two weeks before Election Day.
My first day as a temporary election worker I’m shocked to find upon leaving the house at 7 in the morning for my commute that it’s still dark outside. Who knew?
I arrive at work with time to spare, and make a trip to the bathroom. There’s a sign in the stall telling me that if the toilet paper is still in the bowl when I’m done to flush again, using the silver button. It takes five times to get my dainty wad of paper down, – What is she doingin there? I imagine my incredulous neighbors thinking – but by golly I followed instructions! I now know to fling towards the back of the toilet after wiping. I’m learning new things already. I will soon discover the stalls in the upstairs restroom have instructions to push the blackbutton if the paper isn’t gone, though the toilets are identical to the ones downstairs. There is also a typo on the signs in the upstairs stalls that will taunt me daily, causing me to fantasize about smuggling (we can’t bring our purses into that area, or it would have been done Day 2) in some White-out and fixing it, the fear of punishment for defacing government property the only thing stopping me. Barely.
After I receive my security badge I’m told to ‘badge’ my way in to the lunchroom and await further directions. I stand in front of the door pondering about what to do with my badge, – Do I swipe? Do I stick it in something like a credit card reader? Is ‘badge’ really a verb? – when an old timer takes pity, and shows me, the Noob, how it’s done. This will become a common occurrence the next couple of days. Huzzah to the jaded, yet kind, old timers!
In amongst the corporate-speak, which I remained silent about and figured out for myself, embarrassed as I had never been privy to such jargon (NEO, for instance is not referring to the character in the Matrix, but is instead New Employee Orientation), my favorite words of wisdom today were "Nothing forges heroes like the fire of battle." Apparently I’m training to be a hero! My Ballot Review department lead also used the word ‘fungible,’ and my nerdy word soul swooned.
Ballot Review is the final stop of all the problem-child ballots where we resolve, among other things, ‘overvotes,’ which is where you may have filled out a bubble and realized you really meant the otherbubble, so crossed it out and filled in the right one. However, the computer scanned them both, and because we’re still slightly smarter than the computer (but don’t tell it!) we fix it so you get the vote you intended. Or, say you voted on the kitchen table and spilled your coffee on your ballot making it difficult for the computer to scan, or your little precious helped you vote by coloring in all the bubbles you didn’t fill, or you foolishly used a yellow highlighter to vote, (which is the only color the computer can’t read; what were you thinking?!), or you voted then tore up your ballot in little pieces and mailed it in because you’re an ass, so someone in Opening has to tape it up, but the computer can’t suck up your ballot to read so we have to make it all right. We do other super important things too with great speed and accuracy, but I sense you’re zoning out thinking about Netflix around now, so let’s move on, shall we?
We Ballot Reviewers are also ‘Agiles’ which sounds pretty cool to me (and apparently ‘agiling’ is also a verb here in the gov’mint) – why, yes I am nimble, thank you very much –but really means we get yanked out of where we’re supposed to be getting things done, and placed wherever they’re getting backlogged in other parts of the system, like opening the ballots. Or Cig Bear, which turns out not to be a blue scruffy bear with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, rasping out orders while wearing a teller’s visor like a newspaper editor from back in the day, but Signature Verification; Sig Ver. My lead talks auctioneer-fast, what can I say?
I discover that since rejoining the workforce, even temporarily, my body has (kindly) adjusted to being around others, and has miraculously refrained from passing gas, at all, all day long. However, when I get in the car to go home at the end of the day, I buckle up quickly, as otherwise my body would go flying around the car like a taut balloon deflating.
Day….. I-don’t-really-know, but it’s the day after election and I worked 11 hours in Sig Ver the day before as every procrastinating soul in our county drove up, skirting the media hordes, and taking selfies as they dropped their envelopes they received two weeks before into the ballot box filled with hope, and to show what good citizens they are, of course. As I took a break that night, I watched the train of white, gray and black SUVs that reign in Seattle, my right shoulder twitching in pain, soon to become a muscled, misshapen hump I’m sure, from click, click, clicking, ensuring every one of their signatures is valid.
Today the media is gone, blessed be, and I’m in Sig Ver again, busy as ever helping the department from drowning in the Bonzai pipeline wave of ballot signatures, judging all the horrible ones that require my attention in my head, but sometimes out loud. If they made a time-lapse of my face reactions to some of the crazy-ass pictograms that pass for signatures it would be akin to the over-exaggerated acting of a silent film star. Some are works of art, but some look like the voter broke both arms and signed with their feet. (An aside here, as I wonder what my signature would look like if I used my foot, then stop a moment as it sounds like something I may have tried once before.) Just so you know, the County keeps the signatures from voter registration so we have an original to compare the one that gets signed on the ballot, and if they’re somewhat off we can request a signature update, where they send you a little form to sign and it gets scanned and stored in the history file so we can check to see if the latest matches any of those. Some people have multiple, like more than four signature variations, and are obviously still trying to figure out who they are; I mean, I’m happy you grew out of dotting your ‘i’s with butterflies, but settle on something already! And don’t get me going on ‘Voter Fatigue,’ which is where you got sooooo tired from filling in your bubbles that you can barely sign your own friggin’ name. Patience is not my virtue, but you probably already figured that out.
The next week I’ll still be working long hours, jumping from department to department, helping anyone, anywhere, anytime to appease the politician wolves at the door, waiting for the final, official counts. I’m glad you all voted, and I thank you. It’s important, and empowering to vote. It’s exciting to be a part of it all, and truly fascinating to know how many eyes actually see your vote, and ensure that it counts. If you happen to see me in the next couple of weeks, stop and give me a pat on the back. Literally. On the right hand side, if you would. To push down that nasty dowager hump I’m growing.
I was visiting my 84-year old friend recently at her assisted living place, looking over the menu with her, and we saw that the evening's special entrée was Weeping Tiger Steak.
Now, she's a sharp one, plays a mean game of dominoes (with an evil gleam in her eye when she beats me, which is more often than not), reads the entire newspaper every day, and is, sadly, more informed on current events than I am. But, like I said she's 84 and she's showing signs of her age, repeating stories, forgetting things, and such. She complains about the food at the facility often, getting all het up when her excitement over something that promised to be good, like say tacos, turns out to be disappointingly bland, or mysteriously, incredulously, without salsa – egads! – relishing when they have comment cards to give to the kitchen and she can tell the chef that "If you don't know how to cook Mexican and Chinese food, just don't do it!" (Not to be outdone, her friend in the dining room was said to have suggested: "Fire the chef!" on at least one occasion.) They can be a feisty bunch of octogenarians!
She's a country girl at heart, growing up on a farm in California during the depression, then on to Southwestern Washington and a meat-and-potatoes lifestyle, and I've had to interpret certain culinary terms for her before, like, well... du jour. You can imagine her perplexity over Weeping Tiger Steak! “You don’t think….” I explained it was probably some type of thin-sliced beef in a Thai-spiced marinade, and that she'd most likely enjoy it. She promised me she'd roll down to dinner that night, and see for herself to give me a report. I could see she was excited, that fire sparking in her eyes, at the prospect of the whole dining hall abuzz about what the heck a Tiger Steak was going to be. I hope for the chef's sake it was good.
Our friend Paula made this for our dinner club when the theme was Thai several years ago, and it was delish!
Crying Tiger Salad
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup Thai fish sauce
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
½-1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
¼ tsp. sugar
2 cups Thai basil, coarsely chopped
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
green leaf lettuce leaves, whole
1 ½ pounds of steak*, thickly sliced
Salt & pepper
Green cabbage cut into wedges
Tomatoes sliced into wedges
2 cucumbers, sliced thick
Whisk dressing ingredients together.
Salt & pepper the steak. Heat a little vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat & brown the steak, 2-3 minutes a side.
Combine steak with basil, cilantro, onion & dressing.
Serve on a leaf of green lettuce with cabbage, tomatoes & cucumber.
Serves 8-10 as a side salad, or 4-5 as an entrée.
Can be served hot or room temperature.
*Tenderloin, sirloin, top loin work best.
On this eve before my 57th birthday, I trail my fingers across the flat area of my chest, contemplating what the next year will bring, and searching for signs of The Return of the Silver Hair.
A couple of months ago I was in my bathroom sprucing myself up before leaving for dinner with some friends, when something happened that caused me to gasp. Out loud; GOL (Is that a thing?). Positioned in natural light, with the sun coming in through the window, I caught a glint of silver on my chest near the strap of my tank top. I picked at it with my fingers, thinking it was a thread, but it was too fine, and slipped away. I pinched at it again. But wait. Did I feel a faint pull on my skin? Was it one of Joe’s silver fox hairs stuck to me with hair product, perhaps, just above my heart? I thought with a whiff of romance. With dawning horror, twisting my chest this way and that in the mirror, I found it again in the sunlight. I grabbed it with my sturdy (red and fun!) tweezers and pulled. A tiny tent of skin appeared below. It was indeed a silver hair, but it was mine. A good two-inches long.
Growing. Out. Of. My. Chest. GOL!
Now, I’m no stranger to errant hairs sprouting up in various places on my aging body. I am riddled with moles, after all. The moles on my face require diligent maintenance, lest I become like that sweet old lady friend of my grandma’s who had wispy white hairs flowing from her chin beneath her dentured-smile, distracting my 6-year-old self to no end. The once stiff, black hairs poking out of the ‘beauty marks’ above my lip and on my pointy chin are now softer, and a beautiful, shining silvery white, not unfriendly, even (and I have to admit upon my begrudging acceptance of their appearance one winter morn, inspired a potential holiday card idea: ‘Silver Hairs. Silver Hairs. It’s Christmas time on the chinny.’ Sing it with me!). Still, the constant fear of waking one morning and encountering Cthulhu in the bathroom mirror is real.
But back to the singular silver chest hair. My breasts are somewhat far apart, but I've found the wide flat expanse of chest between is perfect for displaying, say, jewelry statement pieces, which also serve as a pleasant distraction from one of the other ravishes of time displayed on my body, the wrinkles and scars running down my chest like rivulet patterns in the sand. (Here, I am behooved to share a brief PSA about the importance of using sunscreen, or covering up your damn chest when you go to a Renaissance Faire and are feeling free and wild in the Land of Bosoms and Cleavage on a hot August day when the mead is flowing and you don’t possess the sense to buy a parasol until you start to feel the burn.) It seemed cruel of nature to plant, and successfully grow, something on this already blemished, yet heretofore hairless field!
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I found another single glistening hair had replaced the other. It turns out that it was not a freak, one-time event, but the cave’s mouth to a silver mine. Understandably, since then I’ve developed a sly habit of sliding my hand over my skin in a Braille search of the portal so I can nip it in the bud this time around. So far, so good. But, as I said, I wonder what my new year will bring?
Union, Washington: Home of Rudy the Truck-Driving Goat, according to a brochure in our cabin, (and not to be confused with Prudence the Boat-Driving Stoat, which is not a real thing, unless you’re driving along making up songs after you heard about Rudy). The area is located along the deep saltwater fjord of Hood Canal, known for its abundance of shellfish, and where on a hot day in mid-July the one beach not covered in discarded oyster shells is packed with sun-seekers, and colorful umbrellas sprout from the sand like giant mushrooms in Wonderland. It is also the location of my first Jewish wedding.
The marriage ceremony was in the afternoon, held outside near the water on the lawn of the beautiful Alderbrook resort, the view of the Olympic Mountains and Hood Canal almost as stunning as the bride and groom. (Almost. I need to mention the bride is my husband’s little sister, and her dimples-to-die-for inherited from their father could be seen by all as they stood and faced each other.) As the besotted couple engaged in their marriage ceremony in the bower of the chuppah, (the traditional Jewish wedding canopy) the guests sat baking in the sun in their formal wear – lots of blacks, and tuxes and woolen suits, and all the men in yamakas (or yarmulkes, but I’m going with the no-doubt bastardization just so the non-Jews know how to pronounce it). The bright orange hand fans provided were flitting like butterflies (or as the bride used to say when she was about 4, ‘flutterbys’) in various degrees of flight; some frantic, some loopy and lazy, some barely moving in a daze from the heat, Zen-like. Wasps were attracted to our saltiness, and I secretly hoped one would land on a neck or bare shoulder in front of me so I could stun it with a flick of my fan, an amazing ninja move that would make me The Heroine of Aisle Two. If we weren’t actually crying from being moved by the rabbi’s sincere tenor intonations, or the way the groom’s eyes never left his bride, or the amazing, intimate essays they wrote for one another further professing their love, we looked as if we were, as we all lifted our sunglasses to wipe away the rivulets of sweat streaking down our faces. At one point I felt a large dollop of moisture on my spine where I was amazed there was enough space in my dress for it to be able to move. As I concentrated on the lovely words the rabbi was reading I multi-tasked, following the drip’s progress down my back where it slipped over a particularly itchy mosquito bite I’d received the previous evening before being absorbed by my dress somewhere around my tailbone. The backs of my knees were gushing, and I was sure there was a pool forming beneath my chair, so that when I stood I would sink into a quicksand of Lori-sweat and sandy grass.
After the I-do’s were declared – followed perfectly by the husband and wife’s Corgi’s joyous bark of approval – and the glass was smashed (which I heard, rather than saw, as the photographer knelt in front to capture it, blocking the view for the bride’s side; not to complain, but oy vey!), I peeled my thighs from my chair and scrambled for the shade. Drinks followed, and then a delicious dinner sprinkled with heartfelt toasts, and heartier Mazel Tovs and Lechaims. The groom’s grandfather was quoted as saying “I feel like a rich man tonight,” and indeed, I believe we were all feeling that way. There were tears of the sincere variety, there was laughter, and afterwards there was dancing.
Oh the dancing! We were summoned inside for the first dance, which morphed into a hora, (which is not quite like this, but how cool, yes?), all with traditional Jewish wedding music, and I suddenly found myself clasping hands in a group encircling the bride and groom, and we were off! Around and around we went, rushing forward arms raised, and back, breaking the circle to add more revelers, or shake off the tired or thirsty ones like a friendly crack-the-whip game. Soon, there were the chair rides, as I liked to call them, but officially part of the hora as well, and really a chair ‘dance,’ where first the bride, then the groom were hoisted into the air by assorted virile young men, yamakas still in place, suit jackets long stripped off, and bobbed up and down to cheers and more dancing. Next came the bride’s mother, then father, then the groom’s mother, then father, then my husband’s oldest brother who walked the bride down the aisle; all bucking in the air! I loved it all! This was how weddings are supposed to be! A raucous celebration of love and joy; all smiles and laughter. I was hoping I could have a ride, but saw the men were tired, and rightfully so, so I gave them a break and suppressed my desire of a Jewish rodeo fantasy. Look ma, no hands!
There was a moment where the groom dropped to the ground and started to do the Hopak, what I always thought of as the Cossack Dance, where you cross your arms and kick your legs out in front of you while squatting, Fiddler on the Roof-style, or like the soldiers in the Nutcracker. I used to pride myself on being able to do this rather athletic dance as a kid, and even recall a quick version in my kitchen not many years ago, and my dancing soul was piqued as I stomped and clapped and the groom kicked away. I wanted to join in. But just as the thought entered my slightly drunken head, I rolled my ankle. Simply standing there, in my retro 40s-look chunky heels. I tried to shake it off, and limped out of the room to a quieter zone, where the guest book lay open next to a pile of the shining white guest yamakas. I may have been saved from the embarrassment of my wee, thick, late-fifties legs kicking out from beneath my Calvin Klein dress like a dwarf Cossack before I fell back on my chastened butt, but there was nothing stopping me from clipping a couple yamakas onto said dress over my breasts like a perfect-fitting bra, posing for a couple pictures, and dashing about secretively on my swollen ankle (can that really be done?) showing them to select people to make them laugh while avoiding the groom’s very Jewish mother. As I like to say, I haven’t been struck by lightening yet.
In the last year I’ve been to three different weddings/commitment ceremonies: A church wedding, a pagan hand-fasting ceremony (also a first!), and this last weekend the Jewish wedding. All were beautiful, and different in certain ways, but there was one common denominator: that look exchanged between the bride and groom as they faced each other, holding hands. We, the friends and family, didn’t exist to them. There was no minister, spiritual priestess, or rabbi near them, leading them through the ritual. Just each other, and a deep, pure love that was almost too intimate to observe. Thank you my friends, for sharing your moments. Mazel Tov!
Our master bath has this horrible shower door, one of those things that’s been broken so long you just get used to it being the way it is, Gerry rigging it with whatever is to-hand, because the only way to fix it is to do a total renovation.
It’s one of those folding doors where you push on the center and it opens – which the cat has figured out and gives her happy access to the “special” shower water that is left behind for her personal sipping pleasure. When you’re in the shower, you simply push the middle again, from the inside, and it shuts, theoretically, for the duration of your shower.
However, our door is missing a brace that straddled the top of the bending portion of the door, so that it doesn’t stay closed. Who knows where the missing piece went; maybe it was never there. We used a sturdy rubber band from a bunch of asparagus for a while, which disappeared while I was away for a couple of weeks recently, and was replaced by my ever-resourceful/creative husband, Joe, with a wooden chopstick, which when slammed into the door slot provides enough of a seal for the door to remain closed. Unless, that is, you put any sort of pressure on the inner shower wall, like say, when you lean your back against it to shave your legs – admittedly, not that often; it is barely spring after all – and you brace your leg on the opposite wall for easy access for shaving. Then the bloody door pops open abruptly, bashing your leg, and sending the chopstick flying, almost certainly outside the shower where you have to step out to retrieve it, dripping all over the floor. But still, it’s mostly just an annoyance, nothing life-threatening. And typically, the second you step out of the shower, your curses washing down the drain behind you, the irritation is forgotten until the next time.
Until today. It’s supposed to be sunny this weekend in the Pacific Northwest, so I decided to shave my hairy Hobbit legs, anticipating modest exposure. And of course, the door buckled open when I assumed my desired shaving pose. I carefully repositioned the chopstick and leaned my body in to slam the door shut, aware at the last second that one of my fresh pencil eraser-sized nipples was brushing against the closing jaws of the middle portion of the door, barely escaping being pinched off. Whereupon I immediately played out a “What if?” scenario in my head, where the door did nip it off, I quickly bandage my blood-spouting breast, recover the nipple and wisely, calmly fill a container with ice to carry it to the ER, where I’m hoping they can reattach the little bugger, like a toe or finger. If they can’t, I think of alternatives: a prosthetic silicone nipple, a shiny studded piercing, or a bionic one that glows. And changes colors. Maybe a large X tattooed over the missing protuberance? Anything, really, to avoid the inevitable song-in-the-making I can hear Joe working on, something upbeat, toe-tapping, with a banjo, along the lines of “Lori, my love, my one-nippled gal…”
Yesterday I ventured out from my cozy niche of Shorelandia on a quest to visit and photograph all the pianos in this year’s outdoor Pop-up Piano exhibit. It was a classic Pacific NW summer day, in the mid-seventies, and (sorry, have to do it), the bluest skies you've ever seen!
The first I hunted down was in a sort of Asian enclave, near a great little Banh Mi shop I know. The greens and blues of this piano piece have a distinct local feel about it; from lily ponds to the Puget Sound, a ferry, and the looming Olympic mountains.
The second piano I tracked down was within walking distance in front of a pho restaurant, but somehow it was easier to do a couple of creative U-turns to get across the street. I asked permission to take this woman’s picture, who didn’t speak a word of English and I assumed was Vietnamese, and since the only Vietnamese I know is a) nearly non-existent, and b) questionable (my dad taught us kids a couple of slang words when he got back from being stationed in Vietnam, and I’m skeptical if what he interpreted as “Good grief!” is really as benign as it sounds…), but through a few simple gestures we got through it. She’s not smiling in the picture, but she was the rest of the time.
I’m rather fond of the walrussy-squid, who reminds me of Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon.
I have to say this one didn’t do much for me. Don’t paint me unpatriotic, but I’m not a huge fan of red, white and blue together, commemorative plates, or stars and stripes Americana stuff, unless it’s music. That said….Mark Twain plate! And I confess that the Navy blue with red stars brought to mind a satiny material I begged my mother to make into a long, apron-like dress for me when I was about 11, and I had plans to wear it and form a folk-rock duo with my best friend; her on piano, me on guitar. At least I got the dress.
I worked close to this neighborhood, Sunset Community Garden, for over 10 years yet didn’t know about it. There was a fabulous view from where I parked, and a lush, fertile, well-tended community garden I waded through with my camera on the way to the piano. The sky, after nearly two weeks of smoke from the forest fires in BC, was blessedly blue, and an ideal background for sunflowers. I’m all about masks, Harlequins and theater, so found this piano light-hearted and fun. It also expressed the sense of community I felt in the park.
This piano outside Richmond Beach Library was being played, so before I asked the young man if it was okay to take his picture I walked around, taking in the view, and snapped some shots of the orca sculptures.
This one at Sky Nursery seemed like it was in an appropriate location. I really liked the patina, but thought it a shame there weren’t real chickens in there. (Not really!) Well, maybe a little.
Now that I think about it, this Oz piano located along a portion of the Interurban Trail is also quite apropos. Look, there's red brick behind it!
I'm pretty sure this flying monkey is dancing in the air to Uptown Funk.
This beautiful grand piano was the only one indoors for this outdoor exhibit. It was warm-looking and lovely, but obviously lacked the spontaneous I-just-happened-upon-a-funky-piano vibe.
These creepy guys are watching over the piano, too.
Wonderland was the last of the nine on my circuit, closest to my home, and my favorite. So playful! There was other creative art there, too.
The last picture I shot was of this sign, nestled in amongst the art here in Ridgecrest. Perfect ending to my safari, I'd say. Which piano is your favorite?
I’ve officially psychologically entered the Realm of Middle Age. The turning point? A couple months ago I was visiting my parents, and my mother fetches this dress. Now, wandering off innocently and returning with some random item she would like to give me (like a cat might do, now that I think about it) is nothing new – for years now she’ll disappear and come out with say, a bean crock with matching bowls that belonged to her mother that she’d like me to have. It’s cute, it’s sentimental, and I believe a sneaky, be it slow, way of getting rid of over 60 years of the accumulated detritus of life. I imagine every time she got into the passenger side of the Caddy in the garage as she reached for her seatbelt she saw the bean pot sitting on the shelf, squat, brown and toad-like, and wondered when she last made baked beans from scratch, instead of simply ‘doctoring-up’ a can of Bush’s by adding ketchup, brown sugar, and garlic powder. (I’ve long suspected my parents have been sticking Post-It notes on the backs of and under items throughout the house with my brother’s, sister’s and my names on them. Next time I visit I need to check, and maybe switch some around to my advantage.)
I’m not adverse to hand-me-downs. When I was in middle-school my mother would get clothes from her friend that her daughter out-grew. The daughter was Alice, a year ahead of me in school, tall, with easy confidence, thick black hair that was past her slender waist, a smile that dazzled in contrast to her dark brown Guamanian skin, and clothes that were the epitome of teenage cool in the early Seventies. She was the opposite of my chubby, freckled, matted blonde-haired self, and I longed to be like her. So, when I was handed a stack of her shirts, or a pair of soft, purple bell-bottoms with multi-colored braided trim on the bottom, it was like I was being given the garments from a goddess. Celestial choirs sang! And with a little creative hemming on my mother’s part, I could wear the pants! At this time we were living on a Navy base in Japan where my father was stationed, and I spent many hours devouring the JC Penney’s and Sears catalogs we would get to see what kids back in the States were wearing. The jeans I was usually forced to wear were from these catalogs, in a maroon denim material, that was rough and unfriendly, and in the humiliating size of Husky, the Plus-size equivalent for chubby pre-pubescent girls, thank you very much.
When I was in high school in Oak Harbor, Washington, I “slimmed-down” as my mother put it, and I was finally old enough to receive hand-me-downs from my sister, eight years older than I, and also someone I looked up to as a glamorous thin goddess, and sometimes-radical role model. I remember with fondness a light pink tee-shirt with an embroidered white rose placed just above my heart she gave me, that hugged all the right places and showed off my lately-bloomed breasts, and looked totally sweet with the one pair of jeans I owned that weren’t generic from the Navy Exchange, but Britannia’s – just like the enviable kids in Seattle were wearing. The pants were so tight it was hard to get my hand in the pocket for my pink-tinted cherry-flavored Chapstick, and the hem just barely skimmed the ground when I wore my fake leather and wooden clogs. I was foxy!
My sister moved out of the area when I was in college, so that clothing source was lost for a while, but my grandmother lived with my parents at that time, and she was a hoarder of the first degree, saving dresses and shoes she wore from as far back as the 1940’s. With her permission I pawed through her boxes and unearthed some lovely vintage pieces, already hemmed because we were pretty much the same height, and only needing a few simple tucks at the waist for alteration. She had also kept all of my grandfather’s ties, and I plucked out a few skinny ones to wear with my button-downs and vests for my preppy-look days. There were glorious high-heeled shoes, too, of the 40’s Starlet variety, but positively dainty at size 5½, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t cram my 6½ foot into them. They were left to languish in their original shoeboxes, never to dance again.
But back to the dress my mother brought out. It was a floor-length formal, with a layered look to it, in a royal blue shining polyester material, tags still on it, and shoulder pads. (My eyelids slowly folded up into a skeptical squint just typing “shoulder pads.”) She said she bought it back when she and my father were thinking of going on a cruise with their friends, which never happened, and I figure must have been 15 years previously, if I’m being generous, so maybe 20 years ago? You have to understand, my mother has never offered me clothing of hers because, a) she’s half-a-foot taller than I am, and b) until the last year I wasn’t….husssssssky enough. But this was in a size my mother hasn’t worn in, as I said, at least 20 years, and a size I’ve recently discovered is, if sometimes a bit loose, admittedly quite comfortable…to my jaw-clenching chagrin. So, I humor her, and my new sister-in-law who is sitting on the sofa and looks like a Hollywood housewife – a perfect doll of a woman no matter what time of day or night – and encouraging me to “just try it on” (is she smirking?) as I gracefully try to extract myself from doing just that, and go and try it on.
It fit like a dream, like I was on America’s Short Husky Top Model and it was made for me. The blue offset my red hair and fair skin like a Renoir painting, and it wasn’t even dragging on the floor, no doubt due to the height of the shoulder pads, but still! So, I took it. And it now hangs in my closet, sans shoulder pads, reminding me that I’ve checked my ticket on the Middle Age Train, and, well, I’m rolling with it. In style.
Hi, I'm Lori, a lover of feeding people. Be it with words, whimsy, or some tasty food, I want to warm your belly or your heart. Or at the very least tease out a little smile.