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.