Life’s little struggles.

Today is a blustery day. I think it’s my friend Mark throwing a temper tantrum.

The other day, Mark told my husband he wasn’t feeling well, that he was going to lay down for a nap. He said he’d call us the next morning.

The next day his son called us – very distraught – Mark had died in his sleep that night. 

Yeah, it happens that fast. 

My husband and I get  caught up in our petty day-to-day existence – something like this kind of grabs you out of that rut, makes you think about things. First, of course, comes the guilt – why didn’t I go over to have a corn beef sandwich with Mark on St Paddy’s?

Then the fear – my turn may be coming around…  As my husband stood in Mark’s living room, friends gathering to fill the tiny house, the talk turned suddenly to life insurance. 

And then the nostalgia – remember when…   Mark was a colorful character, ’nuff said here.

Finally the loyalty of friends, plans for a wake, a good party, with lots of food, just like Mark would want. 

Funerals are for the living, sure. Traditions keep us moving as a community. Especially in grief, it’s nice to be able to walk a path you know, feel the familiar stones under your feet, see familiar faces all around you. 

But I’ll make a lemon meringue pie for Mark, because it was his favorite. 

Spring brings change

The sky was very dark and dramatic this morning.


I caught a glimpse of the Spring moon as the clouds rolled over.


Today is the official start of Spring, but she’s been hanging around the back door for a few weeks now.

Here’s a milestone – three people who profoundly affected the world we live in died this weekend – Chuck Berry, Jimmie Breslin, and  David Rockefeller.

These men were Titans of my time.  The only one I had a real affection for was Berry, who reminded me of my dad – sometimes point blank serious, other times an awesome bullshitter… always a great entertainer. He embodied an era that is gone – I wouldn’t call it innocence, but America used to have a lot more self-confidence and a wider righteous streak.

Jimmie Breslin was one of the “new journalists,” he wrote with feeling, oftentimes with slant. Slant is not good journalism, but it’s a good read. He was a writer who wrote for himself and nobody else – I can relate to that.

The Rockefellers, smiling with benevolence but one hand in their back pocket. David Rockefeller got very rich  championing “enlightened capitalism”. Uh-huh, whatever you want to do with that. I always felt the Rockefeller Center was Satan’s New York headquarters. 

Spring brings change, that’s for sure. We’ll have to see what rough  beast comes round in the next few months. 

I’m quoting Yeats not Didion.




Pollen time – maybe the rain will wash that stuff down today!

It’s trying to rain outside. Every now and then a little burst and within seconds it stops.

I’m hoping for some good gully washers – tree washers, really. All  around my house the trees are flowering, the grasses are flowering – we’re being pollinated as I rattle the keys.

The tree in front of our house, right outside our bedroom windows, is a gross polluter. It’s similar to mulberry – little tassel flowers that come out before the leaves. The ends of the branches look like a stalk of asparagus, but as the flowers open they look more like the fringe along a beat up old rug.

When the morning sun hits the tree, it begins to “smoke”. It looks like the area between City Hall and the Municipal Building at break time.

The other day when the wind kicked up, my husband and I had just come in for lunch, and just as he was telling me how stuffy the apartment is with all the windows shut up tight, a big green cloud blew by our living room window, and then another, and then another. We shuddered, and checked the windows to make sure they were all shut up tight.

This tree is very pretty, and it shades our entire driveway in Summer, so we put up with two weeks of terror.

It’s fun to hit it with the hose – covered from head to toe with work clothes and dust masks – and watch it puff. I hope this also gets rid of the pollen faster, I try to hit it every morning when I go out to the truck to get ready for work. Of course the old red F-150 is coated with green goblin dust. It sparkles menacingly.

In other news, the iris flowers are coming out all over the yard, like, “OMG! It’s SPRING!” I like to spread bulbs around my yard, very casual and hap-hazard, just trying to find good, out of the way spots for them to grow into a weed block. It usually takes a while for them to come along, I usually forget where I’ve planted them, so the flowers are a nice surprise.

A few years ago a neighbors white irises pushed their way under my back fence, the rhizomes sitting on top of the ground. It just happened to be Fall, so I grabbed a shovel and dug a little trench along my laundry fence, and plopped them in. I don’t have time to plan this stuff. I don’t remember when I did it. But this year as the rains came in, the spiky leaves began to push out the weeds along that fence. The other day I noticed the elegant white spears growing up out of the chaos.

They remind me of the white cranes that frequented my grandpa’s rice field.

Irises are good to cut and put in a vase – it’s nice to cut them before they open.

Oh good, here comes that rain.


Looking toward the future while keeping one foot planted firmly in the NOW

I’m  glad you can’t see me right now because I look like Hell. Whenever I get busy my appearance is the last thing I think about, until I stand up from my computer chair and catch a glimpse of my self in the big wall mirror.

I admired this great big antique mirror on a co-worker’s wall, what – 30 years ago? And the next thing I knew he was loading it in the back of my tiny car.  He’d got it with the house he’d bought, and didn’t really care for it, so passed it on to me.  And now here it is, taunting me. “You look like a plate of old crap.”

And I feel like one too!

I won’t complain about cleaning the rental, which gives me very little to talk about.

The realtor is coming today, that will be something to yak up.

I’m trying to motivate myself to go over and put a little spit and polish on the place, make sure to dust down cobwebs, wipe off all the sticky hand prints off the walls and doors, etc. Nobody ever notices the stuff you cleaned, it’s the dirty stuff that catches their eye.

And when this is all over… I try to think about that but find myself counting unhatched chickens.

I’ll have to amuse myself with plans for a gluten free angel food birthday cake. With COOL WHIP!





When you get to be my age you can postpone your birthday to a more convenient day

My husband and I have been so busy lately – don’t laugh – I just realized today is my birthday.

Frankly I just don’t feel like having it today.  I’d really like to be able to celebrate the day in some fashion, but today I have to go over to the rental and scrape out the oven.

The worst thing about a dirty rental is the smell. A real turn-off. First thing to do when you turn over a rental is clean the kitchen appliances and the bathroom fixtures. I spent two hours the first day cleaning the refrigerator. It’s only eight months old, they got it new, but they gave it back to me with some sort of strawberry jam stuck in the back of the freezer and rancid salad dressing spread all over the inside of the door. It’s the cutest little modular model – everything comes out for cleaning, and yeah, there was guck behind everything. I can’t believe they put food in the drawers – it looks like they stored their shoes in there.

Hey, it’s my birthday, and according to Lesley Gore, I’ll cry if I want to. Or just complain, gripe, bitch and moan like usual.

There was a rotten food garden growing in the bottom of the dishwasher, which was only about a year old when they got it. It never ceases to amaze me how disgusting a dishwasher can get and people will just keep putting their dishes in it, and then take them out of there and eat off them!

Of course the stove  was  a mess – these folks thought baked on food was reasonable wear and tear. After two hours in the fridge and another hour in the dishwasher, I’m ready to spend at least two more hours in the oven.  The stove top only took a half hour – just a flat surface, no racks, grates, or nooks and crannies.

Like I say, smell is a deal killer, and you have to go in after it. After I’m done with the appliances there’s the cabinets!

Yeah, I know – Biscuit got sick when we turned over the same rental last year, and I just had to grind my teeth and put my shoulder to the wheel, worrying about her every minute and cursing that tenant too. Curse curse curse!

I’m starting to lose my thrill for Landlady. Arthur hates her.  My knuckles are bleeding, my hands and arms are shooting with pain, and muscle spasms in my back make me walk like a poodle in a constant hump.

So Thursday we got a  realtor coming over. I’ll keep you posted.

And, I’ll have a birthday party next week, you’re all invited! Stay tuned!



Biscuit still hanging in there – love is good medicine, but the vet is also very helpful

Eight pounds lighter, but still hanging in there!

All that worry and fuss – maybe it worked, cause Biscuit is feeling a lot better today. Thanks for all your support Basil Rene – it looks like she might have had a “GI” problem.  Maybe it was the skank water at the park, or maybe she ate some poop – she’s no princess when it comes to her diet, that’s for sure. Doc told  us yesterday that all her internal organs look good, her tests have been coming back good, it looks like a temporary ailment. 

This morning she’s her old self, asking to be fed instead of making me spoon it down her throat. She skipped out to the back acre for a walk this morning, smelling all the smells, enjoying the morning – same old dog.

Last time this happened, we dallied around, thought it was no big deal, dogs get sick. We took her to our old country vet, he doesn’t have testing equipment, and just gave us a general antibiotic. A week later she was at death’s door, so he told us to take her in to All About Pets. I feel stupid now that I didn’t take her there right away. This time we jumped on it, and avoided weeks of Hell. I’m starting to have a tentative trust in veterinarians again, it’s taken a while to get that back after past experiences.

The best thing is she trusts me – I was able to get a pill in her this morning, she just opened her mouth and  let me set in on the back of her tongue, then swallowed it. 

I think my friend Reverend Billy would say something like “Dog-a-LU-jah!” 


Here we go again!

A little over a year ago, my nine year old Queensland Heeler Biscuit came down with an illness that left her emaciated and weak. She had some infection that attacked her pancreas, liver and kidneys and left her with diabetes.  For over a month we nursed her as if she was our child, sleeping on  the living room floor so we could get up throughout the night to take her out, hoping she wouldn’t barf up the food and medicine we’d plied into her over the course of the day.

She got so skinny her collar and harness just hung on her, she got so weak my husband had to carry her up and down the stairs of our apartment, and set her in the car to go to the vet. We racked up a $1300 vet bill within a few days.

The important thing was, she got well, back to her old self, even a little stronger. The diabetes had  been sneaking up on her for a while, but with the insulin and a strict diet, she really got strong again.  She just had a check up two weeks ago and the doc said she was doing great. They really like her down there, because she likes them. When she goes in the front door she always barks really loud until one of the staff acknowledges her, and her tail swings back and  forth across the magazine stand, wop-wop-wop.

Yeah, everything was just great, until Sunday, when it seemed to be starting all over again. She barfed her breakfast, didn’t want dinner, ate it anyway, and barfed in the middle of the night. Like five times.

I kept telling myself, she ate something weird, she drank creek water – I was secretly angry at my husband, wishing he would stop taking her to Bidwell Park every morning, where I believe(d?) she got laptospirosis, a virus that is prevalent in skank water.

So we waited out a very scary night and we called the vet first thing in the morning. She couldn’t see Biscuit until 11 am – I had been awake since 12 am, when she first cried to be let out, I couldn’t go back to sleep. My husband had slept fitfully, waking with a start at any noise. We both felt like an old plate of crap.

The doc gave her a shot that would help her eat – anti-nausea – and sent home a pack of anti-nausea pills. The shot helped her feel better, but we still had to spoon feed her and hold her mouth shut, rub her throat to get her to eat. It took us two hours to get a cup of food in her, and that meant we could give her a half a dose of insulin. Then she started to feel better. But, we still had to force feed her dinner.

And now, at 6:07 am, I am getting ready to shove that pill down her throat, so I can force feed her some more food. This is the routine that worked a year ago, so I am resolved to do it again.

The vet took some tests to find out the cause of Biscuit’s relapse, but told us, with diabetics, the major organs eventually go. Frankly, Doc didn’t seem to think it was Biscuit’s time to go, and neither do we, so here we go again.

This morning she actually seems stronger, pushing at the gate for a walk, she even nosed the baseball bat.