Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December=Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

That's how it looked.
I'm now 47.
Merry was made.
Many Christmas presents were made too!
Perhaps we can talk ear flap hats and cowls and snoods and bunting in 2010.
Santa arrived.
Presently hoping for less blur and more peace in the New Year.
Adieu 2009 you were sort of fine. I won't miss you.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank You


We (being the royal We) officially call a truce with the universe (don't think we were winning any way) to offer gratitude and thanks for the following:

1. Keenan and his hearty good health and humor
2. Mama who loves unconditionally
3.Obnoxious Father who tells me he loves me
4.Family who hold me up, make me laugh, and play with me
5. Wonderful pals like you dear reader Red Tara who inspire me
6. A roof (less-leaky) over my head
7. A kitchen filled with roasting and baking things
8. Santa arriving promptly at the end of every Thanksgiving Parade
9. Creativity kicking in

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Despite the whine, I know I am blessed beyond measure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Shall Love One and Other

Migrant Mother
photo by Dorothea Lange

"To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses-that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things."
-Pablo Neruda, from "Childhood and Poetry"

I usually find Newsweek sadly lame. Spending time recently in various medical waiting rooms, I've been exposed to countless noxious substances like contrast dye for my brain-scan, various flu viruses, In Style magazine, Golf Digest, and Newsweek. With not a National Geographic, The Nation, or Highlights in sight, I perused this week's (actually next - 16 November) Newsweek and found an editorial by Julia Baird that was of interest: Seeing Dignity in Poverty, Dorothea's Lange's politics of respect.

Ms. Lange's photographs are mesmerizing. Her work-and that of her fellow FSA photographers- has been an important influence in my life. I will never forget the moment I cracked open Agee and Evan's brilliant Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and out fell truths that sharpened my teenage mind to justice and injustice and what it means to be human.

Ours is a terribly confused culture. We miss essential moments, attend to illusions, and deny our connection. While crying out about how blessed and Christian we are as a people, Americans are practicing an entirely different set of values. We reject the idea that we are our brother and sister's keeper while, at the same time, employing a religious moral foundation to infringe upon human rights and attempt to "reform" (or failing reform, to discard) those among us who do not fit our narrow view of the acceptable. Damn dear reader Red Tara, I am so pompous.

One thing I know to be true is that it is so much greater a test of your humanity and your courage to be poor. To be poor in America is to be stripped of your dignity and to have assumptions made about your essential humanity. There must be a reason why the misfortune of poverty has fallen upon you. You are obviously not one of the "chosen people". Perhaps you are not even American. Yeah, maybe if you don't like it here/can't make it here, you should just leave. As Americans we are raised and rallied to believe that we have been "chosen" for the winning team, to lead the world, to provide its moral compass.

As the health care reform debacle and the global monetary crisis demonstrate, we Americans are"not so much no more" the chosen people nor arbiters of morality. Rather, we are the formerly entitled who must now awaken to a world in which we are merely another group of hominids trying to make our living.

Will this old/new state of affairs lead us to a greater sense of connectedness? Will we discover the truth that we are all each others keepers? It is so hard not to be cynical.

As a young woman I studied 17th century French theatre. Moliere's Tartuffe and Le Misanthrope are favorites (Le Bourjeois gentilhomme aussi). I was in agreement with Moliere's Alceste, “…Mankind has grown so base, I mean to break with the whole human race." Ridiculous social conventions and the absurd significance placed on position and perception seemed to be unchanged in the intervening centuries. I renounced human-kind (except for a series of hot boyfriends- do not get me started on the latitude given to beautiful men in my life) and prepared myself for life as a curmudgeon, a true misanthrope.

Alas, dear reader, I kept falling in love (much like Moliere's protagonist) and I continue to do so. This falling in love with people kind of jacked my whole "unabomber-cabin-in-the-woods-I-want-to-be-alone" deal.

On an individual basis humans are exquisitely lovable. One on one I want to smooch you all.

We are also extraordinarily thick-headed and resistant to change. If you pay attention to history, always a fabulous idea, you see the regularity with which we repeat failed plans and political strategies. We relive the same plot over and over and over. Our memories are so short that it all seems entirely original. Every day feels novel, shiny bright, or terrifying depending on how the news waiter/waitress tells us we should feel.

We are either completely myopic or possess tremendous powers of denial as we move through our lives imagining that they are unique, all these moments we are spending- no one has ever felt thus, loved thus, been this sad, faced this crisis, lost so much, been as joyful, written this blog post.

I think we are weird.

My dogs have a stronger true north on their moral compass (all dogs share one compass). Like Dug in Up who says, "I have just met you, and I love you," they are willing to pitch in with your lot and see you through or go down trying. As the beloved Ani sings and dogs know "we are not here to see through each other, but to see each other through." Nevertheless, or perhaps therefore, we are amazing creatures. And we do have a deep well of compassion from which to drink- to get all cliched and stuff.

Each morning I wake not knowing who will win the battle between my inner misanthrope and my Pollyanna love child. It is all so very disorienting -that is until I see my son or I look at that face above or notice my neighbor Crazy Mary passing by on the street muttering epithets under her breath or read your blog. Then I remember that I just met you and I love you and that "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"- So we must all be walruses.

Photo Source

With our majestic tusks and stately whiskers, we are imbued with tremendous dignity.

Updated 11/16/2009 to add that the universe conspires to delight. Right now in my green and pleasant town you can see Dorothea Lange's 1939 photos of Oregon during the last great depression. For details visit here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Madeline Alice Spohr should be two today

Photo of Madeline from her mother Heather Spohr's blog The Sphor's Are Multiplying. Once again, I'm hoping Heather and Mike wont mind that I borrowed a picture of their Maddie.

Today is Maddie's second birthday. She was born early at 29 weeks. She survived and thrived for 514 days. I can only try to imagine the sadness of a birthday celebration missing such an enchanting birthday girl. In her honor, as her birthday gift consider donating to Friends of Maddie and The March of Dimes on the March for Maddie page. You can see pictures of her teams marching all over the country last spring on the March for Maddie Flickr group.

Mike, Maddie's Daddy and Heather, her Mama have channeled their grief into acts of such generosity - supporting NICU families, leading the March for Babies in their community, speaking in Washington D.C. and so many other places. They have miraculously, honestly, and with great beauty shared the process of grieving their glorious daughter with their readers. So, I love them and wish them well and want to offer support for their mission to continue Maddie's legacy of love.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Mean Moon and a Bullet-list

Or something.

In addition to losing half of my hearing (Buh Bye stereo sound - you were nice! And I never told you how very much I loved you.) the last 27 days have been filled with:

  • My loved ones having "the" flu. Or maybe a flu. Or flues?
  • Prednisone withdrawal (mega-dosed to theoretically provide treatment for the sudden hearing loss) that is teaching me to stfu about junkies because I would lick a toad if it made my joints work better and stopped this melancholy. Thank goodness I discovered Matthew Good's Hospital Music just in time to get low-down and depressed. The Boy Come Home almost killed me. So lovely. "Strange to think we could have been so brought up by ourselves". Yep. I did just quote a song lyric. It's pretty serious no? Really lovely and sad. Not a good combination for a woman on the verge.
  • MRI to verify that no I don't have a brain tumor and yes I have health insurance and yet, I now owe $2,000.00 to Epic Imaging - AFTER my deductible and insurance payment for the thrill of it all. I know I got off cheap. It's the $1,800.00 tooth that has really capped (haha more like crowned) the week.
  • Root Canal. Enough said.
  • Driver's side door spontaneously falling off of my loyal truck Fidel. And it's really wet here. I need a door I think. So, I smashed it back on and now I get to take my debilitated joints, my melancholy vibe, and my throbbing face and fling them across the passenger seat to drive anywhere. Good times.
  • Post by SJ that has me thinking hard and my brain and heart hurt.
  • Today, after a very long day that saw most of my green and pleasant city washed away by wild deluge, I came home craving nothing more than my delicious, cozy, tiny bed...bliss. My needs are so simple. Sadly, my roof has decided to fail completely and directly over my bed which is now so profoundly sodden that it may never be cozy again.
I am not feeling well.
I have been sobbing so hysterically.
Awesome. I am a whiner.

Frida had it harder.
Lots of people do.
Dollface it sucks to be a grown up sometimes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Poor Me...

Hello Dear Reader Red Tara. Long time no typing. I did go to Reno for the big pizza and wine fest and retirement shindig. See proof above. The pictures are a bit wonky because I was jumping on the beds of our Circus Circus West Tower 7th floor 2 queens room with my three nieces. We were all wearing our princess dresses, cowboy boots, and tiaras. You should have been there!

Boy howdy...circus circus...I could write forever about why I am not a casino kind of girl. Cheap rooms and limited space at PTJ's are my excuses for the location. Serious good times were had without a step into a "casino". Casinos, dear reader, are where poor people go to spend their very last quarters so that they can drink free, watery rum and cokes or 7-n-7's.

Reno deserves discussion. I judged it harshly based on a devotion to the Comedy Central show Reno 911. It is actually gorgeous and retro-funky. Many of the houses are constructed of beautiful red brick and shaped uniquely. My favorite looked just like a hobbit house with a little divided front door and a wild, curly black roof. Alas, no picture. I had to be physically restrained from jumping out of the truck to offer the hobbits all my gold rings for their beautiful wee little house in Reno, Nevada. Happily, my people recognize that I am not a hobbit and that Nevada and I are just getting to know each other. We shall have to see.

Nevertheless, Reno is amazing. You are practically swimming in Lake Tahoe or skiing -whatever blows your skirt up and weather depending. It suns and rains and snows and blows and blazes all in the span of an hour. The astounding mountain ranges that surround you actually take your mind off the Donner Party those same mountains so successfully trapped. For this distraction by their sublime beauty I am eternally grateful as I tend to obsess unpleasantly about those poor starving souls when in the neighborhood of the Sierra Nevadas. And, as we are speaking of starving, significantly, Reno has two In-N-Out Burger joints. There are zero In-N-Out burger joints in Oregon. Have you ever been? I do not eat fast food. I do eat double doubles animal style.

Anyway, today I was just going to whine a bit about poor me waking up Monday morning stone deaf in my right ear. Perhaps I would type a bit about how this might be the way I am forever and what that means to a woman who loves music. Even the sound of my son's beautiful voice is different. And I am panic-stricken and such. Meh.

Before driving by blogger, I stopped in to check on Maddie's mama and daddy. 514 days. It broke my heart all over again. So, nothing profound here. Except my otolaryngologistically determined Profound deaf-ness. And being half-deaf, well it sucks, but not as much as being all deaf. No where near as much as Maddie and her loved ones having only 514 days.

So, upon reflection, I feel a bit silly whining about being somewhere around 17,094 days old with a profoundly deaf right ear. So what. I'll cry about it later. In the privacy of my closet. Or, perhaps publicly if anyone else asks me what they can do, because that is so sweet and how the feck do you not cry when you have to tell some sweet person who wants to help you that there is nothing they can do. Heather and Mike must be out of their minds with that particular grief too.

I have noticed one interesting symptom that I will share with you in the fine tradition of digression that I must observe. I have developed what I refer to as Natasha syndrome. So named because in the episode Attack of the 5 Foot Ten Woman (hey I'm 5 Foot Ten too!) of Sex and the City where Carrie is feeling inferior to Big's new hot big wife, she regains the upper hand reading a thank you note written by Natasha wherein she of the Five Feet Ten uses"their" when she should use"there". Carrie reads this note with the incorrect spelling over the phone to Samantha or Miranda or the wasp one and says "she's a big idiot" or some such.

Yeah, I'm lame. I watched the entire series in one cosmo-fueled funk spent in my jammies with the dogs looking on sympathetically. I am Natasha and their is nothing sadder than half-deaf peoples who have lost there ability to use their and there appropriately. It makes plain my disability. I suppose I should mention, though it pains me to do so, that my doctors do not agree that this symptom can be attributed to my new deafness. Another reason I look upon most physicians as quacks -they tend to disagree with me on so many fundamental and obvious things. But, as part of my healing therapy, I fully embrace my diagnosis of Natasha syndrome. Their. I have confessed my shame.

But fear not intrepid one, I promise I have love stories to tell about so many things.

A quick list in case I forget:

1. My Beloved Son in college.

He will not thank me about the picture here. First day of school pictures are a tradition. I should probably ask..but hey, I've done it before. And just you hold up little Miss tidy driveway, back off about the recycling bins! It was garbage day!!!I seem to remember a 40 foot pile of bark dust that lived in front of your house for like TWO years! Plus, my neighborhood is gentrifying at an astonishing rate. I have to do my part to defend the urban farm vibe.

Wait, I am too sensitive. You don't judge me. This is why we are pals of the first order. Nevermind.

As my devoted imaginary friends across the globe who have traveled the distance with me from ingenue to world weary homeowner of now going on 22 years will observe...the stairs, they are still a problem. What I wouldn't barter for some fancy new stairs, a screen door without tears, and an un-leaky roof! Scandalous!

But this young man...he makes every day a special day by just him being him (holla Mr. Rogers!). Sometimes the quickest glimpse of him makes it hard for me to breathe and then I can't see very well because I weep liberally at his pure exquisiteness. I have never gotten over the profound joy of his arriving. He is here! And, HE IS IN COLLEGE! Oh! and I love Posy even more for this post. Oh heavens! the LOVE! Thank goodness he is a patient and fine old soul.

2. An amazing 4 days away alone with my glorious Mother in Rockaway and all over the flat-out crazy beautiful Oregon Coast where we hiked through bogs, under and over huge root balls of fallen giants, up tall mountains, and deep into primordial forest to visit the largely unvisited oldest/largest western red cedar pictured below with said glorious mama (don't tell her I put her picture in my blog. She is very modest. But I mean really, the woman is a Goddess).

Aren't they beautiful...I told you true red tara. And all the while we were in sunshine and green it drubbed down rain upon my little Portland town. How curious was that?

3. My obnoxious father's big hootenanny half way between his San Diego house and my Portland house at babiest brother Patrick's in Reno. A ball was had by all. When said obnoxious father wasn't busy making out with strange chicks he'd just met at his party (That's how we roll), he was head pizza chef. Here he is passing on the family pizza making legacy to the youngest of the many princesses present(most of us were still in formal dress). Kneading the dough is tough work for princesses.

Daddy is in charge of thick crust "Gutbustium" style, whilst his ex-wife, my mama with the good sense makes wicked nummmy New York style. The pizza of my youth - and I can make them both!

Ah! and here be the 2 and only brothers of mine checking out John-John's recent engine swap. We traveled south to the soiree in his beloved VW Hank- not to be confused with his Loretta who is a fire engine red hottie like his wife sfj. I was proud to claim passage on Hank's inaugural road trip. J-J had just completed a multi-year long vanagon engine to subaru engine conversion BY HIMSELF!!! I think he had some huge posse of geeks on a message board or whatever it is the cool kids communicate over these days serving as advisors. That boy (I suppose he is a man to almost everyone else having just turned 45 yesterday. But not to his big sister!) gots the skilz. Babiest brother ptj (seen here climbing into the engine compartment in hysterical joy) is beyond impressed...expect conversion of his vanagon someday soon. The boys so loved my old school VW Bus (white over turquoise named OttO) that they have garages full of VW Vans. I can take credit for everything being the eldest.

4. Summer left me all loved up with bee stung lips and a smile and I am so grateful for it.

Ah Honeysuckle!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Miss My Thumb - A Sucker's Lament

When I was a little girl I was a relentless thumbsucker. I like to blame my beloved Mother who nursed me mere months when compared to nursing babiest brother 'til just prior to grad school. Well Mama, it seemed that way to me!

Then I grew up, had a son, and experienced the knife in the heart that is the self-weaning (at 14 months!) babe. My best beloved, my wee boy had given up all but his last night time feeding and one day, as I coaxed him to latch on, he looked up at me and very patiently said, "No Mama." Like a little, ever so patient god. Crappage. As you can see dear reader Red Tara, I have yet to let it go...much like that now grown baby boy.

We have discussed my hanging on problem before. So, here I will impart my tried and true methods of self-comfort for those times when life pokes you in the eye and says "boogerface" or "gobshite". These simple, good things have replaced my much maligned thumb (my parents insist it was the reason for my expensive orthodontia-I say that was dodgey genes) with their magical powers to infuse my soul with the calm. They are relatively free of vice and whilst somewhat addictive, not controlled substances by any stretch of your highly elastic imagination.

This month has been especially hellacious for me and for many people I love. I hit the wall a week or so ago and have been in a fugue state for many days- hence, I have no memory of how I have passed the time. From the red and puffy eyes, I assume crying was involved.

What finally brought me to my senses was a day of laundry (the disorganized person's quick fix), reading, sugar n' cream cotton yarn in the "Playtime" combo, and Ina's Lemon Cake recipe...throw in a few gallons of Stumptown coffee and I am almost restored to my former glory.

I really enjoyed the book So Late, So Soon by D'Arcy Fallon. I read it all in one quick bash. All my life I have had wicked bad dreams about musty beach houses and fanatical Christians. I think we can attribute this to, in no small part, my 2 years of OMSI sleep away Marine Biology camp in North Bend where every other group passing the rainy summer days was made up of "Christian Youth". We OMSI types were the unwashed, hippie element their parents had warned them about. They were vocal in their superiority, fear, and loathing of us. I heard no less than 3 adult counselors tell groups of roving christian young'uns to "Stay away from those kids. They're from OMSI!"

My parents neglected to read the fine details of the camp (this happened frequently in my youth and when I bring up the inevitable, ensuing traumatic experience-because I have a hard time "letting go" not having been a raging stoner or free love advocate- I am constantly reminded by both of them, "Hey! It was the 70's!Let it go!") and thus I was a very innocent 9 and 10 year old hanging out in the back of the bus with real live, non-innocent early 1970's teenagers! I've never recovered. I couldn't smoke a joint until I had graduated from college-and people, I lived in Eugene Oregon! In the 70! I graduated from the U of O in the 80's! I went to Grateful Dead shows, the Oregon Country fair, and a theater cast party with Ken Kesey-well, not with Ken Kesey, but he was there!!!

As the youngest in the group at Camp Arago, I was in charge of feigning illness or hysterical homesickness anytime one of the counselors started investigating the wild giggling in our cabin a little too closely. I was often laughed right out of the drippy, mildewy cabin for suggesting that we actually go down to the slough and investigate the collison of the fresh/saltwater ecosystems that were, at that very moment, colliding! Or that we hang out at low tide and count sea anemones.

I feel lucky to have survived. It was a trial and a feat I do not completely understand, for I had no easily accessible comfort. My thumb had long since lost its magic. I had finished my 45th reading of my beloved Misty of Chincoteague.

The commissary served fruit for dessert. Every. Freakin'. Night. I had yet to discover the comforts of tea and coffee and drink. And, saddest of all, I had no yarn, no needles! When you are a maker, e-h.s. (empty-hand syndrome) is a dread state.

In retrospect the only thing that actually saved my poor little soul was a scheduled laundry trip to the Pony Village Shopping Mall.I knew it lay just ahead of me, so near. Just two more days. Now just one more.

There, I was able to restore some brief but blissful freshness to my clothes, which smelled just as D'Arcy Fallon describes the just washed cotton sheets fresh from the dryers at her Northern Californian Christian commune - Moldy and Damp. I could buy some pens and a sketch book with which to draw. And it was there, at the majestic Pony Village Mall, that I discovered MASCARA, specifically Brown Tussy mascara. OMG! Make up! The thrill of it took my mind off of the disturbing sight of my fellow splotch-afflicted campers french kissing indiscriminately, every where I looked.

I spent the rest of that summer at camp practicing my mascara technique, drawing pictures of holothurians, and hiding from the uncool boys who were confused and hormonal enough to mistake a prepubescent girl for a potential summer lover. I remained chaste. With MASSIVE lashes...truly endless. Poor boys. It must have been such a painful, unrequited kind of desire what with my groovy, raccoon-like mascaraed eyes and all.

However, now as a truly growed-up woman, mascara, like my beloved thumb, has lost most of it's magical powers to soothe. So, in any existential crise, I now rely on the baking of things (with butter), obsessive, indiscriminate reading (which I refer to as literary prozac), and knitting bias cloths out of cotton yarn. Bliss. And, also, more productive most days than sleeping, which has always been my go-to, get outta your head method of self-care.

First, you must bake something wonderful like Ina's Triple Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Here's the drizzle part that you drench the cake with before it cools: Sugary, lemony, and warm...sometimes I drizzle a little in my tea too. See the little lemon peels?No? Ah well, once I learn to use my new camera all will become clear-er.

Then, while the cake cools you whip out your trusty number 7's
Hey RT I want these for Christmas!!!

and some cotton yarn ( I prefer the natural color for face cloths, but sometimes a girl needs a serious jolt of color), and follow this age-old pattern known by many names such as the Eyelet Wash Cloth, Bias Knit Cloth, and Granny's Favorite Dishcloth:

Cast on 4
Knit 4
Knit 2 Yarn Over Knit to end
Repeat until you have the width of the cloth you desire (between 40 and 48ish)
Decrease - Knit 1 Knit 2 Together Yarn Over Knit 2 Together Knit to end
Keep going until you are down to four stitches on your needle
Bind off

If you want to make a loop for hanging, crochet a short chain with the yarn tail.

There is a lovely recipe for this pattern here.

You wind up with a beautiful square that has an eyelet border.

Which you can then employ to cover your delicious lemon cake whilst it cools.

Then you should make a big, hot pot of tea or a giant mug of coffee and you will have comfort at hand.

Throw in a good read, a warm dog draped across your feet, some sweet music and you have comfort. Almost as good as the memory of that old thumb....

Now that I am back in the saddle, it's on to fall yard clean-up, fixing the slippery stairs, and planting thousands of bulbs! But first, a weekend in Reno (the biggest little city in the world) with family to celebrate my obnoxious father's retirement and move to Ouray. Cheers!

P.S. I feel it is only fitting to close with the obvious comfort-ne joy! of being right (as in correct or just). Evidently Senator Wyden, on Tuesday (obviously after reading my blog), came out in support of a public option. I am now ready to re-evaluate our relationship. I feel the love people. I feel the love.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Good Thing - Sisters keep doing it for themselves and their fellows

Recently I sent you, my dear reader Red Tara, and my family an email blast in praise of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's insistance that a public option was mandatory. Alas, like most of my deep thoughts it dropped like a stone into the well that is your collective psyche and made not a ripple. But there is, surely, no way you can ignore the transcendent beauty and courage of the subject of this morning's rant, I mean email, which reads,

" about this one...burned at the stake for having a vagina and being slightly crazy just like Joan of Arc, the divine Ms. Martha Stewart, patron Saint of home keeping and quality crafting, today hosted that pariah of American culture, who wants us all to wind up Cuban communists, Michael Moore (bless his soul-he won an academy award remember???LOVE you Michael!)."

Watch it here.

Martha asked the big questions and let that dangerous, seditious Michael talk all about the economy, health care reality and reform, and his new film Capitalism, a love story (I bet Mr. Geithner has screened it). She even permitted him to interact with audience members. One of them was British and that gave Michael an opening to compare and contrast health security in civilized vs. un-civilized nations (like England vs. America). On housefrau TV time!

Martha, like Joan and so many other sisters before her, has experience enough to know there is reason to be afraid. Yet she remains unbowed and willing to offend. I love that in a woman! I believe it has always been an essential and ever so elusive character trait. One that tends to be screamed, beaten, shot, burned, or hung out of us with a sad regularity.

Thank goodness I'd clicked over from my new telenovela, which I can not figure out except that there is a hot futbol player enamorado con this angelic madre who make tortillas in a mercado with her mother and sister and has a young son who is in love with a gangster's daughter......I think it's Venezulan, my favorite.

The tangent problem rears its ugly head again.

Martha is a big old capitalist who understands that she is her brother and her sister's keeper....where's that Blow-hard Bloomberg or Mr. Gates or even Opie Wimpy who is spending waaaay too much time on her show with junkies like Mackenzie Phillips? Nowhere near this discussion so far.

Martha has hosted some of my favorite craft artists like Emily from Inside a Black Apple. She apparently has multiple boyfriends. Always an intelligent strategy. Works out every day so she can kick butt. Likes a stiff drink. Eats butter. Martha is a woman of a "certain age" - that age being 68--who is still large and in-charge and getting some and working it.

Exhibit A, her ad for the Dairyfarmers:

I am proud to send Martha and Nancy (who had been a fixture of my shit list) and all my sisters who make noise when they would be safer keeping quiet a shout out!!!Way to go ladies...drag those boys into a new millennium.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What's up with the lap dog? Or why Ron Wyden owes Oregon a lap dance.

I may have mentioned that I no longer speak to, endorse, support financially, or would dine with Sen. Ron Wyden. At one time I would have given the man a kidney. Alas, no more. Blue dog, lap dog, old dog whatever...he needs to stand down. Now. As I have mentioned in my many letters to him, he is woefully out of touch with the interests and desires of his constituents. Unless of course, he has decided to come clean about the fact that his constituents are health insurance companies and big pharmaceutical corporations. Wtf Ron?

When Sen. Wyden's office stopped answering their phones (the day he signed with a bunch of republiwhatevers for a "slow down" on health reform) I spoke to someone in Sen. Jeff Merkley's office. I asked them wtf was up with Ron? They were as mystified as the rest of us. I asked the staffer to run down the hall or up the stairs or whatever and check to see if a pod had been placed under Ron's desk. We had a brief laugh and then much weeping ensued.

"Sage politicos" who wonk out regularly tell me that this is nothing new. How naive of me to think a good democrat is a democrat who gives a rat's ass about people. The pansification of my party is a fact. I am having a very difficult time getting over this particular grief. Heaven help us when all the good liberals start pocketing blood money from the evil empire. As that NRA bad boy told us, "Soylent Green is People!"

Who do I vote for now? Politicians with the strength of character to make things happen (which is why I voted for Hillary-she has the ovaries to take on the tough challlenges) have left the building. Apparently, the idiots, "consensus-builders" and criminals stayed behind to run the show in Washington. My kingdom for an FDR or an LBJ right now. I'd even endorse Elizabeth Tudor. At this point a monarch might be an improvement.

I am completely disenfranchised.

Thanks to the SF Chronicle you too can use this handy tool to see how sticky your lap dogs fingers are.

Here's how Oregon breaks down:

State Party Chamber Member of Congress TotalDescending
Oregon Democrat Senate Sen. Ron Wyden $261,550
Oregon Democrat House Rep. Earl Blumenauer $44,500
Oregon Republican House Rep. Greg Walden $42,150
Oregon Democrat House Rep. Kurt Schrader $27,651
Oregon Democrat Senate Sen. Jeff Merkley $19,000
Oregon Democrat House Rep. David Wu $7,000
Oregon Democrat House Rep. Peter DeFazio $3,000

Seriously Senator Wyden? $261,550.00 in 2009 with a whole fiscal quarter left to report?

And Earl check yourself! More than the republicat! Dude, so not good.

"Dear k", you may ask, "Why do you torture yourself over health care reform and the fact that all politicians are corrupt? You are so boring. Is it because you don't have insurance?"

No, dear reader. After several years without, I now have a policy. But my son does not. And one in four people I meet do not. We are all (but the lucky few) underinsured. And it is a financial stress and prominent nightmare for almost all Americans.

Take a moment to imagine what health security would feel like.

Doesn't that feel amazing?

What space would be freed in your psyche? In your wallet?

"Fascism wants Baptism coast to coast," according to Ken Kesey.

Death panels! Rationing!Unplugging Granny!Waiting forever for tests! No boob jobs on demand! Teeth like the English! (that one is just plain mean, most of my imaginary friends are English, and I think dentists contributed more to humankind when they also cut hair). How barbaric!

These fallacies have been brought to you by the same people who invented the fun summer pastime "Tea Bagging".

For the love of dog, if you can't google the name you pick for your latest great idea for political action you shouldn't be allowed to carry weapons and assemble. Do you hear me Dick?

I was so impressed when Heather Spohr, Maddie's mother, wrote about her insurance experiences and COBRA. She felt it was more important to tell the truth than to worry she might offend someone. That is an impressive ethic for a mommy blogger. And I don't mean to dismiss other mommy bloggers in any way. I am aware of the fact that many blogs are carefully edited to offend the fewest number of visitors. My strengths lie elsewhere.

This is not a political blog any more than it is a cooking blog, a yarn blog, or a blog all about how much I wish Maddie was still alive and I do so wish that. It's just that these things make up my day and fill my head and I believe they should be considered. I need to mark the point at which my political party broke my heart - right here and right now over health security for all.

Henceforth, dear reader, I am all about term limits and campaign finance reform and a socialist party wouldn't hurt us one little bit. I am great at sharing and I bet you are too. But I'll try to spare you that crap and write a little about my trip to the beach with my gorgeous Mum or my obsession with bias knit wash cloths.

9/24/09 Updated to add: Whoa! Anyone else notice the hits from Washington, District of Columbia in my little feedjit widget? And, the President sent me an email on an address I NEVER use for correspondence with the government. He hasn't written in such a long time. Wow! How cool is that? Or maybe it's scary? No, definitely cool.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

His Wild Card says Universal, Single-payer, NOW!

My father died last year. And then he didn't die. He is such a tough bastard, it was hard to imagine anything could ever kill him. I'd certainly spent many an impassioned moment trying to will him into oblivion. And he spent decades "scandalizing my name". When possible, I returned the favor.

Last year, a knee replacement turned into a hospital-acquired infection that took on every part of his body. I am serious about that -every part from stem to stern...head to toes. There were multiple surgeries-I lost count at 9, lots of times he was "almost dead", 3 sets of new knees, spinal abscesses debrided and discs collapsed, months of rehab, IV antibiotic therapy we had to manage at home, cath bags I got to carry everywhere and change, wheel chairs, physical and occupational therapy. You know, the shit no one tells you you will be doing all day once your kids leave for college.

My father is a very busy, opinionated, intelligent, hard-working man. He climbs mountains, cross country skis, does search and rescue stuff with Marines. He does not have much talent for sitting still or being unwell. My brothers and I each spent weeks as his carers. This was all the more challenging because he chooses to live a thousand miles from any of us. It was a humbling experience for everyone. It taught me that no matter how many issues I thought I had with the man, he is my Daddy, he has a ferocious will to live, and I love him. All the "baggage", all the dumb-ass stuff he has done and will (hallelujah!) do became meaningless in the face of his being permanently gone.

Forgive me. I know it is getting a bit sentimental. I have a point. Just bear with me dear reader. I know this is sort of "illness as blessing" cliche claptrap. You have heard it before. But honestly, it truly was, in so many ways, a gift to me to be so intimately reconnected with him, to care for him, to advocate for him when he could not do so for himself. A very painful and exhausting and life-changing gift. That staph infection was able to kill his toe nail fungus, but it could not whip him. It tried hard. He is a seriously tough mofo. He is back to hiking, climbing things, watching for fires on remote mountains for fun on his weekends, and working full time as a civil engineer. Feck you staph infection you rat bastard!

I bring this up for 2 reasons. First, my obnoxious father would be dead if he did not have the finest health insurance and the ability to write $20, 000.00 checks every time that finest health insurer wouldn't pony up the money required for LIFESAVING treatment. Either one without the other and he'd be my "late and obnoxious" father. He was in the ICU, looking and acting like a dead man, and the Blues were micromanaging every freakin' step his highly skilled team of physicians tried to take...many of these steps the Blues felt were beyond the terms of his very comprehensive policy. We, his team, did not. But what do we know? The piece de resistance (shout out to the French because you will be hosting said obnoxious, wine-seeking father next spring!) - his INSURERS- were expecting him to negotiate the finer points of saving his own life whilst being completely unable to communicate. Or maintain a blood pressure. Essentially, they had amortized my father and found that it was time to write him off entirely. Crap. Just when I'd found out he was such a terrific deal! WTF?

Here I want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to Advance Directives. I am telling you loud and proud...get one and put it in the proper hands. Let those highly educated offspring write checks on your behalf with your power of attorney. Let them speak with authority and act as you wish them to. It can save your life or ease your leaving - whichever you choose - not some "death panel" despite what fools scream at town hall meetings. I've seen it happen. I applied said advanced directives myself (lots- o- times baby!It was a breeze after the first go) to a very scary situmacado and it worked a charm! Then he survived and I had to give 'em back. Happily, I still have that "unplug the bugger" card to play!

So, to those of you out there who are happy with your health insurance I say, "Hi Dumb-ass, happy your meds have kicked in." and "So was my father." I am here to tell you (yes I know I say that a lot-I got it from my father), and thankfully so is he, that if he were not a rich, white dude, he would have been a highly insured dead man. I'm serious about this and everyone in their right mind is as well. Something has got to give. Even if our political "leaders" (who are the best money can buy!where oh where is that change I can believe in Mr. President?) are unwilling, the current system is unsustainable. And my child and theirs and even yours will know health security one day. Because we are Americans. We are not animals.

Just sayin'.

And secondly, tonight my father told me that of all his legions of children he always thinks of me as his wild card. "The other 3 are fairly predictable. Whatcha see is whatcha get," he says, "but not you". "Could be a couple of deuces. Could be a full house. You just never know."

How feckin' awesome is that?!

As his only biological daughter (which is a bio-hazard kind of deal and mentioned only to indicate that he has another daughter who is free of his genes and, therefore, a superior specimen), I can't adequately express how delightful that statement is to me. Just beautiful. One of the nicest things he has ever said to me. Thanks Daddy. And thank you for teaching me to swear when I was a toddler. That has provided me with years of entertainment just watching my lovely mother turn pink.

So, dear reader Red Tara I conclude -can you believe it- and I thank you for the link to I am so happy my Dad can say shit to me too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't Touch That Thing or Pandora is Whoa! Interesting!

So, I have a Pandora station for River Deep, Mountain High. I loves me my Ike & Tina. Well, let's be real here. I loves me my Tina. Ike was a disturbed man. And, in a lucid moment Phil made sure that Ike didn't perform on the song, nor was he allowed to visit the studio. He did, however, receive credit on the Dennis Hopper designed cover. Dennis was preparing to be Easy Rider High as we see here:

Alledgedly Pandora confabs with the music genome project to find songs with similar attributes.

So then, Pandora, how does this work? River Deep, Mountain High -beautifully, majestically, overly orchestrated by that crazy lady-killer Phil Spector brings us logically to Sylvia Hall's Don't Touch That Thing from the album Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay.


Because it features a Bahamian woman singing? Whoa! Tina's from Nutbush, Tennessee.

The song repeats this unforgettable chorus:

Don’t touch that thing, your momma’s gonna know.
Don’t touch that thing, your momma’s gonna know.
How’s your momma gonna know? You’re belly’s gonna show.

Endlessly. I can not forget it. Once heard, this song owns you.

Not a violin in sight. No soaring "Do I love you? My oh my!"Interesting.

That "thing"you are not suppose to touch is a penis, dear reader. Honest.

A blog review, at the Washington Post ( here I use italics to indicate surprise. For news-conscious Americans, there are so few dependable sources. I count 4- the BBC, C-SPAN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, but the Post has a problem, so maybe not the Post. After finding this review affiliated with their paper I can say we have 2 strikes, 2 outs, and no one on base. It's that close.), refers to the song this way:

"There are a few dozen compilations on the label that could serve as a perfect summer mixtape, so picking just one song is a tough task. But this slice of Funky Nassau from "Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay" was the first one that came to mind. This song just oozes sun, warmth and the carefree attitude that goes -- or at least should go -- with summer. It's got a meaningless sing-along chorus and a beat that never stops. "

Um, really? "Oozes sun, warmth, and a carefree attitude"? "Meaningless sing-along chorus"? Wait. For realz?

Let's pause. Now breathe. O.K.

Dudes are odd.
Forgive me, but I am going to just call this one: the reviewer at the Post is a dude. I know dudes. I even made one myself. Lovely creatures in possession of "that thing" we are not suppose to touch. Yet so very odd.

Most woman would hear a cautionary tale on this track...about not touching penises...Duh. And then, they would wonder about Sylvia. Did she ever touch one? If so, did her Mama know. If not, well yee haw for self- or birth control correctly applied to the encounter! Not exactly a breezy summertime theme for a song. Unless getting knocked up is your idea of summertime.

"Don't Touch That Thing" celebrates (here the italics are ironic) the fear and chronic worry experienced by every fertile heterosexual female at some point in her life. Because, let's face it, that day comes along sister when you feel compelled to touch that thing (no really, it does happen) and yet, always, Sylvia's words of wisdom ring in your mind. Even if you've never heard her sing them to you. Which is a sad thought for me because she sings a unique and memorable, I fear unforgettable, song. Even if you are in the mood to be a mama. It gives you pause. The whole sex , life, and death thing. The implications should you lose control or consciously decide to touch that thing. It's deep.

It is not, however, River Deep, Mountain High.

You can read another review of the compilation here. All this to prove my point.

River Deep, Mountain High is unlike any other song. There is no comparison. It is singular. Bold and dramatic. An orgasmic frenzy of orchestrated bliss. And complete. And I love it.

Thanks for keeping me wondering, dancing, and ovulating Pandora! As we are such new friends, I am sure this is but the first of many mind-bending encounters. The tip of the iceberg as it were.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As those born in the wilds of the high Sierra and/or Cascadians are want to exclaim, "Yreka!"

This post is all about Cherry Clafoutis and me.Well, not so much me as the cherry clafoutis. What could be more delicious dear reader?

Once again, my magic new-old pinny makes an appearance- its super pinny powers intact.

Our adventure begins with your intrepid cook hand-pitting cherries...a couple pounds of cherries...with a pairing knife and her thumbnail. Thumb, new-old pinny, kitchen counter, and face all stained red.

Almost as red as my big red kitchen. It was so worth it.

Behold one of the many kitchen altars and icons:

I have never buttered and sugared a baking pan before. I highly recommend it. The effect is almost psychadelic. I will explain directly. But first, let us continue with the recipe at hand.

Did you know that the 2009 Pantone color of the year is Mimosa?I am loving yellow right now.

First live action KitchenAid shot ever.
You can not make it out at all.
You are welcome.

Perhaps if you click on the picture below to enlarge it, you will feel the whippy thrill that is my beloved KitcheAid's best feature.

No? Oh well. It is meant to depict the whipping of the 3 (I used 4 because my eggs were not XL just L, cage free) eggs and 1/2 cup sugar for 3 minutes. Followed by the gentle blending of the rest of the ingredients, which included a heaping tablespoon of this:

because I did not have any brandy - pear, cherry, or otherwise. I splashed in some vanilla too. Maybe a couple of teaspoons. Six tablespoons flour. A pinch of salt. And a cup and a half of cream. Have Mercy! I think everything from heavy whipping cream to 2% milk would work for those of you with healthy arteries playing at home. Then the grated rind of one lemon. Ah my kingdom for a microplane like Martha's!

Rested briefly.

Then poured joyfully into my buttered and sugared blue pyrex baking dish (that I did not lick, despite a horrible compulsion to do so) which I had filled with cherries (about 2 cups worth) and the mere sight of which had the power to send me back in time to Lisa Trumbo's Mom's kitchen where sandwiches were always either Miracle Whip on White or Butter and Sugar on White. If my health conscious Mother had known the illicit thrill I had with each bite knowing how horrified she would be!

But I digress...often.
Baked in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Here it is ta da!


I almost forgot the powdered sugar. That's caster sugar and/or icing sugar to my imaginary friends in the UK.

Viola! et Voila!

There's that lovely pinny again. Thanks Mama!

I dished up a plate of hot cherries and eggy, custardy goodness. Ah, so soothing, the creamy texture, the still slightly crisp, juicy cherries, the sweet sugar crustiness of it all.


I have discovered the perfect recipe for a cool fall- sleep in late, make brunch for someone you love, consume, no devour! with hot, creamy coffee- day. And sigh.

"Fall!?", you, dear reader, may say incredulously. "Certainly Bings are not available in the fall?"

To that I say, "Bah Humbug!" or better yet, as an honorary (read imaginary once again-because I picked horse 4-H instead) Girl Guide, "Be prepared."

I froze a passle o'bings for future use. The original recipe was for a Pear Clafoutis, so I will adapt seasonally once the cherries bag out.

As for today...

I ate 2 more plates. Now I have 3 new things:

1. My new/old Pinny from me mum.
2. A bad tummy ache from over-indulgence.
3. This delectable, new recipe thanks to Alicia and Ina.

So, dear reader, would you like the recipe? Yes you would? O.K. here you go: