Sunday, August 30, 2009


The hills surrounding the town of Mosier are on fire....

It's about 37 miles away from where I live. The lady who cuts my hair and I drove to The Dalles to do some errands and passed it by.

I almost got a great shot of the helicopter with their big water buckets dumping, but the smoke kept swallowing them whole.

Tonight I could smell the fire as I drove home.

It reminded me of our forest fire about five years ago.
Camping out in the car after being evacuated.
I had a smoke smell in my sinuses for days.

They used Mi-Mis like these above to douse the fire with water from the Columbia and to drop retardants.

This is across the street from where I live. It was right here... right at this very spot on the other side of a two lane road that they stopped the fire. My house, though you cannot see it here, is just to your left. Two lanes of pavement away. It blows my mind how close that fire came to eating everything I own.

Our fire department is completely volunteer. They did a hell of a job with help from fire departments from all over Oregon and Washington. Just as they are doing right now, up river in Mosier.
Amazing men and women.

What else would you use for a forest fire on a great river like the Columbia?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Okay... campy, old, but funny as all get out! I actually love this song. There are many shades to my grey matter. hee hee

Shady little river.

I liked the shades of orange and reds in this great shot taken by one of my students.

Flying saucer lamp shades.

Lets not forget the darker shade... the Banshe!

What a week! My dad is getting better... now I've got his sick dog to worry about... yikes! It'll be my luck to kill off the dog while my dad's in the hospital and prove once more that I am the less worthwhile daughter. Crap!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

dad stuff

When I first saw my dad yesterday I was struck by how frail he looked. Then I thought about it and realized that he has looked that way for awhile. I think the thing I liked most about seeing him aside from the obvious that I could see he was not in immediate peril… was that he retained his sense of humor. We laughed at how his hair was sticking straight up on top… you know that horrible chicken head look that people do to their babies… yeah like that.

Here’s the deal. He was given a medication that his body had a horrible reaction to… shutting down his kidneys and messing with his pancreas, so that food was not ingestible and he did not feel able to drink. He became dehydrated and confused, then frightened. I think it’s the latter that is the scariest to me. Nothing frightens my father. That felt so wrong.

The Medusa was there with her consort. He is a bit bizarre. Both are. Today she talked openly about her bipolar issues. Like we were there for that? Hello… not about you!

Poor Cinderella called. This is my sister that is wonderful, beautiful and smart. The day she left home was the day I began to mentally pack my own bags. My sense of home is anchored to Cinderella. We share a common phobia; The telephone. I did not have a phone for many years because I could not bear to answer it and hear bad news or worse, the Medusa on the other end.

Cinderella has the same phobia. Her husband screens all calls to her. So it was with a great sense of shame that I said hello to her and passed the phone to the Medusa… who kept her on line for at least 20 minutes of what I know was torture for her. But it bought me time to talk to my father by myself. I hope she forgives me, but know that she will.

My fondest memory of Cinderella was of us together in Great Grandma’s extraordinary garden. When we sat quietly on the bench, monarch butterflies would come and land on Cinderella, pumping their beautiful wings, but staying so I could watch them. We were dark and had deep dark eyes and brown skin. Cinderella burned in the sun, had lovely green eyes and blond hair. Obviously she was a fairy changeling. When she sang, she sounded like Julie Andrews. Disney could not have made me a better sister.

Whenever we get together, we laugh until we snort and cry. It’s such a tremendous release of tension and so fun. She will be here next month for dad’s birthday.

I told my dad that I was divorcing yesterday. That made him happy. For once he was not insulting about my life choices. That was a nice change, but not as much like him as I’d feel good about… a good rant would have said he was himself. We will see how it goes today.

I’m about to leave. I’ll go up the Washington side of the river today. I am in no rush and the drive is wonderful for the spirit. It is slower at 55 and full of great curves and various grades. If you like to feel your way when you drive… and I do get into it… it is a fun way to go. The old forest you drive thought is stunning too.

Tomorrow I’ll bring Miss Bliss back if things go okay. If she is missing, you’ll know that there has been a turn for the worse.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and good vibes and thoughts. You’re the best. I just got a text from my doc that said that all the tests yesterday came out negative. Good news. But they have more to do… so keep that good positive thing flowing! It is much appreciated.

I think I’ll listen to something pretty while I drive. This:

Bridge Over Troubled Water live in 1969.

Be glad you're not with me... I'll be singing along. ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

bad news comes knocking at your garden gate.

"Just when you're thinking you've finally got it made... bad news comes knocking at your garden gate."

I love that line. It's so true about living in general. Life has a way of tossing a curve ball when you least expect it. That's the way it happens in my life anyway.

Well yesterday I spent the day with my grandson and grand nephew... the two toddlers that keep me on my toes these days. All in all we had a good day. One left for a bit to visit elsewhere and that left me with Mikey who needed grandma to be only his grandma for a little while. Its so hard to share when you are two.

We played football on the lawn. Grandmas are great at this you know and it truly is funny when you bean grandma for the bazillionth time with the ball. So funny you have to roll on the grass laughing. It was pretty good giggle.

Then the Medusa calls me. She has taken my dad to the hospital. It seems that he had a cyst on his chest and he tried to lance it. It became infected. He did not get it treated. Now he is unable to keep down food, is dehydrated and confused. They are filling him with fluids. The crazy thing is that they kept him in the emergency area all day long and it wasn't until 11:00 p.m. that he got admitted.

So there I am for today. I'll be running up there to see what is happening. My siblings will want to know and they will not speak to the Medusa directly if they can avoid it. They will call me anyway to make sure that what she says is true. Besides, I want to speak to the doc myself.

The doc is in fact, my doc. He took on my dad as a favor to me. He's been my doc for over twenty years. I know that he will give me the straight scoop. My dad is going to be 83 in two months. Yes, it is a long life. Still in his family that's young. They live to be over one hundred. I'd like to keep him around another close to twenty years if possible. I know, I can't always get what I want.

When I'm not at the hospital today, I'll be making sure that his dog gets walked and fed. Silly dog is old and grey... as grey as my dad and the two of them are lost without each other. I think otherwise I'll just take it easy and keep it simple. See which way the winds blow.

The Tubes - She's A Beauty

This is the story of my beauty... and holy terror...


I don’t know if you have noticed thebear in the comments yet or not. That’s my Bear. Somehow or other she has talked me into watching not one toddler but TWO TODDLERS again today.

Am I clearly out matched by this tag team of tiny terror?

Can a single grandma hope to cope with duo diapers?

Will I survive another day long viewing of I Carly and Spongebob Square Pants?

Well, I did survive the Bear… who was much more terrible than these two together. I know… darling little girls are so sweet. Bull crap! I was traumatized by this one bitty bear. Near driven to insanity. She was a nightmare child. The Omen kid had nothing on this babe. Not a thing.

For one, she just plain arrived. We got to the hospital and did not get to see a labor room… she exploded out on a wave… and the doctor barely caught her by one foot! As a newborn, she hated people. My tiny despot would shriek until visitors ran for cover. Then she pretended to be sweet until the next visitor arrived and the wails began anew.

I made the serious error of breast feeing my monster. In the middle of the night, while I snoozed in exhaustion, my little darling would awake ready to eat. She did not seem to have the concept down of the proper location for nursing. I would wake up to a terrible burning sensation… to find that my baby had latched onto any old bare spot on my body and was giving me a horrendous hickey. She would be livid when I pulled her off. I’m not sure which of us was screaming louder. She also liked to bite. I was abused!

When she was two I stepped out on the balcony to feed the cat. We kept her food out there where the Bear could not eat it. Behind me the door clicked softly shut and with a chill, I realized that the next sound was the lock being poked in. My toddler had locked me out.

“Bear… open the door for mommy please.”

Bear giggled. I knocked on the door and tried laughing, hoping if I sounded like it was all a joke, she would relent and open the door. No frigging way!

I began to beg. She began to climb. Up the side of the sofa… up the sofa back. Her chubby little legs heaved her onto the wide window sill…where she stood in front of the open window… tiny hands held up and began to bang on the flimsy window screen. She said “Mommy… Hi mommy… mommy… hi mommy!”

Understand the terror here. This is a toddler in a big picture window separated from certain death in a second story fall to a concrete walkway below. Yes, I was on the balcony… to the left of this window, where the balcony ceased to be. Below her was only the drop. The screen held in place by springs. I watched it bend each time her tiny hands slapped against it.

There was only one thing to do. I climbed over the end of the balcony wrought iron railing and hung by one foot and one arm… at an angle… to stretch out far enough to put my hand on the screen to hold it in place. The entire time I am calmly saying to her “Bear please unlock the door for mommy.” I was still repeating this mantra 45 minutes later when a neighbor finally walked past below and called up to ask me what I was doing. The manager was quickly brought back to open the door and I was helped back over the rail. No, I did not beat her. I sat down and cried.

When the Bear turned three we walked past a booth in a flea market selling tiny bikes. They had tiny training wheels. Too cute to pass up, she became the proud owner of a miniature blue bike. She got on and took off… there was no training involved. She rode the darned thing until one of the training wheels fell off. I thought it might slow here down, but it did not. She rode it sort of sideways.

Then one day, a helpful neighbor noticed that she was not really using the one remaining training wheel at all, but rode upright. So he took the wheel off of her bike. She hopped on without noticing and rode off. That was the start of my next wave of terror. Now that she did not lean to one side, she could go faster and farther. I was within a few weeks of delivering Max, and had long past lost sight of my feet. I was supposed to be in bed for all but an hour of my day, when a light walk was allowed, because of complications.

Bear did not like being locked up in the house with me. She quickly figured out the lock. She hopped on her bike and took off as fast as her feet could pedal. I… not mildly walking as I was supposed to do… was running full tilt down the mobile park streets shrieking at her to stop. Her dad installed a dead bolt that could be opened only with a key. The key hung from around my neck.

The Bear quickly figured out that the window in Boo’s room opened onto the porch and she kicked out the screen and hopped out… jumped on the bike and took off in the amount of time it took me to go “What was that noise?” I was again running after her. Her father bolted the window shut.

She pushed a chair to the dryer, climbed on it and flipped the hinge lock on the laundry room door… out she went and away I ran.

This is the child who was bitten by a nasty spider and we fought to keep her arm from rotting off in front of our eyes.

This is the child who once escaped the house while I had my back to the door doing dishes...and while I went looking in one direction, she ran in the opposite to the busiest street in the area during rush hour traffic. A herd of adults were shooing her along like a lost goose… she glared at them but would not allow them to get near her. When I ran up, an old lady gave me the lecture of my life about how some people should not be allowed to have children.

This is the child who was so well known at the poison control center that as soon as I said my name, they asked what the Bear… by name… had ingested today. (Tums, a small poinsettia, air freshener, deodorant, toothpaste…)

I really was not a bad mother. I truly did watch her. She was very fast, very curious and very bright. Not to mention very stubborn.

Okay… bring on the toddlers. How can they be worse? Wait… NO scratch that. I’m sure that they can be. I’m sure that they will be awful. Let me spit quickly three times and erase that curse!

Monday, August 24, 2009


HEY! I had a great weekend... so I'm wearing my best cheesy smile for the day and maybe beyond. Ha! Yep, the date was fun. Sorry, no details on this one. You will have to take my word for it. What's next? Okay... BBQ at his place so I can meet his family next weekend.

Very cool beans.

A bit of fun music to get us off right on our week.

J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame
(P) 1982 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Catalog,

So in celebration of big cheesy smiles and the things that create them... here are some of my favorite cheesy grins. Let's see if you can keep from smiling before the end of the photos.

Okay... this is as smiley as this one gets most days. But when I look at his face, it never fails to make me smile.

Lorn never disappoints in the cheese department.

Yikes... scary farmer tan Swell! Open your eyes!

It seems closed eye cheesy smiles run in the family.

This angel has no trouble whipping up a great grin.

Nor does this one... but beware the Bear! Cheesy smiles often are the precursor to evil intent and nosey blowsies... or something of equal eeeeevviiiillll.

Oh my gosh... it's a big cheese and the ham of cheese! The Mossoula Children's Theater troupe used to come to our school and put on plays with our students in key roles. My son... this one above, Mr. Soccer and the biggest HAM ever... was chosen every time they came to do the starring role. If you want to really get his goat just sing the words "I haven't caught a fish in years..."

Okay, pure fluff post today. Tomorrow will be a good one... I promise.

Today I have tons at home to get done, having been gone for a couple of days. My usual deal with StbX's meetings this evening. Laundry has piled up and you should have seen the pile of dishes and trash that I found here when I got home.

Tonight is meeting night in the town to the left. I'll pop in and see my grandson and the Bear while there.

Then home again for terriaki salmon fillets from Sman, basmati rice... a gift from an Egyptian friend and fresh zucchini from my elderly friend's garden. Good healthy stuffs. (excuse misspellings).

I fully expect to still be wearing this cheesy smile when I flop into bed at the end of my day.

Go on out there and find something to smile about... damn it feels good!

The Offspring - Want You Bad Music Video
Get the single at iTunes.
Click Below to launch iTunes

Friday, August 21, 2009




Above, a little yellow steamroller.

In Oregon, the color yellow is not the same as it is in California where I grew up. Down there yellow means "caution" and "loading zone". In California, red is the color of fire hydrants and no parking lines on the curbs.

This is the yellow car I'd like to be driving.

Now this is the most traditional idea of yellow that I could find.

It does catch your eye....and it does serve as a warning.

Sort of a modern day yellow brick road...

My favorite of these photos... yellow journalism.
(hee hee)

This yellow reminds me of American Graffitti

I love Swedish Fish... especially the yellow ones!

I guess we will end today with everyone's favorite yellow guy.... Sponge Bob Square Pants!

I hope you all enjoyed today's hunt offerings.

A reminder... there will not be a post on Sunday.
Hopefully I'll be having too much fun. ;)


Once upon a time…. So long ago… Miss Bliss was still an innocent oblivious to most of the failings of men. She had faced two shocks, but still led the bewildered life of the inexperienced, believing that love was always kind and people were good.

Miss Bliss had begun private school in a tiny free school run by Quakers. This school was held in the basement of a Church. The building was huge, and the under level housed a food bank and an information service and emergency hot line we will call V S.

Both of these attracted that part of Miss Bliss that wanted to save the world. Soon she was working in both. The food bank was easy. You showed up, packed boxes and handed them out.

The VS service required training. Miss Bliss was successful at completing it and was soon answering phones on the graveyard shift. The rules were that you must be at least 16 to work there, but those under 21 would be supervised by those over 21. No minor would be allowed the responsibility of running the phones alone.

So it was that Miss Bliss became acquainted with Dan, who was 22, a nice young man who was a weekend National Guardsman and a couple named Curtis and Suzanne who always worked together. As the nights passed into summer and school fell away, Bliss worked more and more graveyard shifts.

When the night calls thinned out, they would play cards or tell each other stories of their adventures. The time passed quickly and Miss Bliss thought of it as mostly fun, with a touch of community service. Dan was a fascination because he was male and let’s face it… at sixteen, girls are fascinated with males. That’s just how it is.

But the couple was even more of a curiosity. Curtis was younger than Suzanne by sixteen years. He was handsome in a young Michael Sarazin sort of way. The most interesting thing about him was that he was perpetually flipping the bird with his right hand. This was due to a fight with some MPs that left his finger damaged and unable to bend. It made Bliss laugh to play cards with a man who constantly flipped her off.

She found Curtis to be a very charming tease and a flirt. She was impressed that he would love a woman so much older. Suzanne was mid forties, looked her age with heavily freckled skin that burned easily and a face that seemed impressed with a sort of exhaustion that absorbed all joy from her eyes and smile. Bliss would look at Suzanne and wonder what on earth could be so interesting there that could hold the affection of such a sexy young man. It made no sense. Because of this, he seemed heroic to Bliss… a man who loved for the beauty inside his woman.

That ended abruptly when Bliss accidentally walked in on Suzanne examining her chest in the women’s room mirror. She could not stop herself from gasping loudly and putting a hand to her mouth to keep from saying the obvious.

“Its nothing…” Suzanne explained. A fall down the stairs. She was clumsy. But Bliss could clearly see the imprint of a boot in Suzanne’s side. The bruising was not mere discoloration, but lumpy and dreadful in its coloring in shades of yellow, brown, green, black and blue. Clearly the there were bruises on top of older bruises, all hidden by the gold lame tube top.

Bliss was of course fresh out of training on the subject of domestic violence. Bliss was backed by the naivety of the young, and the impressions of her recently viewed training films. She decided to make it her mission to help Suzanne escape from Curtis, who would surely beat this woman to death if given enough time. Suzanne would not be swayed.

Bliss did not give up. She continued to spout her opinions on how simple it should be to leave a man like that. Suzanne insisted that Curtis was dangerous and that someone would get hurt. Bliss insisted that she was not afraid of Curtis. She would help Suzanne move out. Together they would pack her things and the leave the man behind.

Bliss had almost given up when Suzanne called her at home. Curtis had just beaten her again and she was frightened. Could Suzanne hide at her home until she could get out of town. Bliss was elated… she had done it. She had won. She agreed to hurry over and help Suzanne run off to safety and freedom. The two women packed Suzanne’s most prized possessions in very quick time.

Bliss peaked out of the door and saw no sign of Curtis. She waved Suzanne to follow. They were half a block from the couple’s apartment when Curtis showed up, running from between two houses. Suzanne screamed as he grabbed her by the hair and began to pummel her face and head. Bliss shouted for help. The street was silent except for the grunts and soggy punches.

Bliss ran to the first house she saw. Inside a large family comprised mostly of large males, sat around a dining table eating. Bliss pounded on the glass. The family ignored her. Frantic, Bliss pushed open the door and yelled inside that a woman was being beaten in the street outside, please… please…hurry and call the police and please come help. Bliss was flooded with relief when the family rose as a unit and shuffled to the porch. But her feeling of hope fell away as she realized they were only going to be spectators. No help was coming from these people. Bliss helped herself to the telephone and called 911.

Back in the street the beating continued. Bliss pushed her way through the horrible family and not knowing what else to do, Bliss removed her leather sandal and began to slap Cutis in the face. The sandals were so flimsy that they were more annoyance than effective.

“I called the police Curtis… they’re coming…” Bliss warned him, hoping the threat would motivate him to run away. It was not until the siren rounded the corner that Curtis bothered to care. He then suddenly ran quickly off between two houses and vanished.

The policemen took Bliss and Suzanne, who refused medical attention to Bliss’s home. There Suzanne was able to take a long hot bath, eat some fried potatoes and prepare her plans for escape. Miss Bliss’s father hurried home from work to drive them to the Greyhound Bus Station. When he pulled up front, Bliss reached for the door handle to accompany Suzanne inside.

“No, I don’t’ want you to go with me. It will be safer if you dont.” Suzanne said firmly.

“Will you write and tell me where you end up?” Bliss begged.

“Sure. You bet. Thanks for all your help, honey.” Suzanne exited the Mustang and was quickly lost in the travel crowd.

It would be lovely if this was the end of the story, but of course it is not. Curtis was not arrested that day. Miss Bliss had accidentally made a wise choice. While Suzanne had bathed, Bliss had called Dan at the VS and told him what had happened. Dan immediately set about purging any trace of connection or identification of Bliss to VS. Her name was removed from every file, every log. He told Bliss that she was not to come to VS until he said that it was safe. She would in fact, never go there again, though she was unaware of this at the time.

Over the course of the next few days a series of events transpired. Bliss only knows that they happened. The details are sketchy. That night, Curtis tore apart the office of VS and all its files searching for a way to reach Bliss. He held Dan at gun point in an attempt to get him to tell where Bliss lived. Dan did not tell, though he was no doubt scared spitless. Curtis found the name and address of another girl named Bliss and after beating up Dan, left to find her. Dan immediately called Bliss’s father and explained the situation.

Mr. Bliss knew what to do. He called the army. Curtis was AWOL. When Mr. Bliss explained the situation to Curtis’s commanding officer, MPs were dispatched and in two days Curtis was taken into custody within a block of Bliss’s house. A loaded gun was removed from his possession and Curtis went into an army prison.

Bliss learned of these facts after all was finished. She never really felt threatened. She never really needed to be brave. Sometimes being ignorant is a blessing. When she was given the details, she was incredulous and became very frightened after the fact. The other girl named Bliss who worked at VS and her family had also been threatened at gun point, but Curtis could see that she was not the right Bliss.

That was the end of her days at VS. Life went on and time passed. Bliss found her new school, from which she would get her blog name, attended and graduated on to college. She met and married. The couple decided to move to Oregon. Bliss took the bus to her old neighborhood to say good-bye to one of her favorite teachers from the Quaker school that had opened a book store.

His name was Larry. He said he was so glad to see her because he had important news. Curtis was out of military prison and had been asking all over the old neighborhood for news of Bliss. Larry had not known how to reach her. But he was certain that Curtis was very sorry for his actions and truly wanted only to apologize.

Bliss said NO. She took the piece of paper that she had scribbled her future address on to give to her teacher and wadded it up, stuffing it back into her purse. She would not be leaving any traces here. She said good-bye to Larry and hurried to the bus stop. She did not stop looking over her shoulder until they were packed and on their way out of California. The one thing that Bliss was certain of was that people like Curtis do not change.

Miss Bliss never did hear from Suzanne about where she landed or that she was safe. Bliss does not blame Suzanne for this. She only wishes her well.

These days when her own children display signs of thinking themselves invincible or smart enough to avoid certain trouble, Bliss tells this story about a time in her life when she was too young to understand the danger she put herself into without even thinking once, let alone twice.