April Showers

On the beach, gray day, puggle dog close up, people crouched at water's edge in the distance.

I have said my farewells to my eldest daughter and her lovely husband, as well as our German exchange student daughter (from 2011) and their friend from New York, all gone from here yesterday and flying out of SFO today and tomorrow. The house is quiet and empty. It is good to feel I can get to work again, and start to plant my tomatoes and lavender, and hear my own thoughts. I did a yoga routine this morning, first time since my surgery in January. I’m throwing sheets into the wash, filling the dishwasher full with the last of our last supper dishes, making a shopping list, thinking about what to do next. My mind has been so full of the immediate, the moments we were in, and I haven’t looked forward a bit. Time to restretch that muscle and see what I have on my new to-do list.

We took the month of April to brave the rain and the miles of travel and gathered to say farewell, at last, to our late son Austin. M & L came from Australia, F came from Germany, J came from Maryland, C came from New York, E&E came by train from Shasta. We met at the seaside–or rather, bayside, in Alameda, to sprinkle ashes and write Austin’s name in the sand, before the waves washed him away. The following photos are some of how we said farewell.

On the shore of San Francisco Bay
Two people in jackets and jeans, seen from behind, crouch at the edge of the bay.
Scattering ashes in San Francisco Bay
Orange fingers from eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos
Eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in Austin’s memory
Two white-skinned arms displaying new tattoos, one of a heart and one of an ampersand.
Memorial tattoos: Forever Five and Ampersand/Heart.
WHite-skinned baby sits on grass amid red tulips.
A visit with Austin’s namesake.
Blurred view down a long, full table in a restaurant.
Drinks and dinners with family and friends.
Running shoes, scattered petals on the sidewalk.
Many long walks.
Blurry photo of people waving lit sparklers at night.
A final farewell with lit sparklers.

And that says it all.

Doris and the Doctor

There’s a lot going on with the doctor in the Doris Diaries. If you’ve been following along in 1929 while Doris is still in high school, but is already 19 (she missed a lot of school because of her illnesses), she has an ongoing flirtation with the intern who she met when she was in the hospital. She goes to visit him in his office, and they flirt some more. It’s ongoing, and harmless. Or is it? (Remember, this is a true story, from Doris’s perspective. No way to prove or disprove what happened here. It’s what the diary says.) Please post to Facebook or Twitter what you think so far.

Saturday, April 20
Dr. Pochert, circa 1929
Oh! My gosh! Another red letter day in my life. And I love him. I know I do. I took an exam this morning, then to a show with Ruth, and then – to see my darling, oh so darling Dr. Pochert. I went in and he smiled and took my hands and looked down at me and said, “How’s my little girl?” And then we sat down and he looks so damned sweet and glad to see me. And I told him I’d been good since I’d been there. And he said he was glad. He said he’d worried because I hadn’t come. Afraid that I didn’t like him because of the lecture he gave me last time. He also said that he received a call late one night and chased all over in the country in the rain, frantic, afraid that I was in trouble. I told him about Dr. Khiel, too, and he got mad and his eyes snapped and he said for me not to go and see him anymore, that some doctors were that way but that it was awful.
And I said, “You wouldn’t act like that, would you?” And he blushed and looked embarrassed and looked into my eyes and said, “You wouldn’t like it, would you?” And I wanted to scream, “Yes, yes, yes, I’d love it.” But instead I said no, I wouldn’t come anymore. Damn fool me. And he said, “That settles it. I won’t.”          
Doris Bailey, circa 1929
Then we talked about various things and before I realized it, it was 10 minutes of six. And he said he’d drive me home, clear home. And I said no, he couldn’t do that. And he said, “Why not?” I allowed I allowed these other doctors privileges. I could give him this little one. And what could I say. So we went down stairs and he had the prettiest new blue Essex and was so boyishly proud of it. Bless his heart.
And he saying what a privilege it was for me to let him drive me home. We were talking about my coming over so seldom and I said, “You know you wouldn’t like it if I came every week. Be truthful.” And he looked at me and said, “Yes, I would like it.” And I said, “But you’d be bored, and it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” And he said, “Oh, so that’s why you come – for a variety. I’m a break in the monotony.” And I said, “No, I come because I like you.” And then we were talking about my never having flirted with him, or tried to “get him” and I said, “I wonder what would happen if I did.” And he said, “You’d better not try. There is no telling where it would and.” And then he said, “Why haven’t you ever tried? Is it because you don’t want to break up a happy home, or don’t I thrill you like another boy would? Is it just that I seem like 
an old man to you?” (Now why should he say that if he didn’t want me to encourage him. He did, I know now. But at the time I didn’t. If I had only said, you are married and so I couldn’t let myself take that attitude and then he would have said “pretend I’m not married.”) 
But I was a fool. And merely said, “No, it’s just that you haven’t had the chance to be thrilling.” And he said, “You’d better not give it to me, you might discover that I’m dynamite under control.” And again if I had only said, “All right I don’t believe it, and I’ll give you a chance.” Then he would have kissed me. I could kick myself, to let a chance like that slip by. Oh! I’m a fool.  

“You might discover that I’m dynamite under control”
Then I asked him what he really thought of me and he said, “I think you’re a good sport and I think if I had met you before I was married and we had gone out together, we would’ve had a good time, and it would have been an out and out love affair.” 
We kept it up, that kind of banter all the way home. The first time we’ve ever talked that way. And I might have had my heart’s desire – his arms and his kiss – if I hadn’t been so damned slow-witted and dumn. I’ll never have the same opportunity again. Never! And I love him. Gee whiz, how I love him. I paced the floor when I got back. I couldn’t hold myself in. I still want to scream and shriek. I want him. Oh God. How I want him, and I might have had him. Except for my dumbness. Oh damn, damn, damn. He thinks now that I think he’s just a man and that I’m not interested and etc. and I love him – oh my gosh how I love him.”
* * *
Schoolgirl crush? Inappropriate flirting between a schoolgirl and a married man? Inappropriate relationship between a doctor and patient? Or D, all of the above? 

Portland pioneer

I had a very successful adventure in Portland, OR, the last week of March. I went with the sort of nebulous idea of “research,” thinking I’d spend a lot of time in the Multnomah County Library, and I did, and I learned a lot of great information. But that’s not all. Here are some of the exciting things that took place last week:
1. I went to Reed College, which is Doris’s alma mater, and gave a lengthy and detailed presentation to the Foster-Scholtz Club (an alumni group) about Doris’s four years there. It was a terrific group of people who were so interested that honestly, you could have heard a pin drop. So engaged and fascinated — a very different audience than the high school students to whom I have been presenting lately. I also donated the first set of diaries to the Reed College library, and saw the archives where they will be kept: humidity-free, acid-free, fire-safe. So much better than my desk drawer… We toured the campus and spoke to the registrar about possibly getting Doris’s school records sometime in the future. A beautiful campus, indeed. Especially with spring blossoms and tulips everywhere.
2.  I connected with the kind people at the Oregon Historical Society, and they welcomed me in. I took along some old photo albums and shared those; I left one behind to be fully scanned and added to the library there (I will retrieve it in September when I return). 
3. I spent time with the Architectural Heritage Center in Portland. Val Ballestrom opened the center’s files on L.R. Bailey (Doris’s father, the architect), and gave me copies of all they had. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much — but I had some good finds and shared those. The secondary project of creating a book dedicated to the legacy of Doris’s father, Luther R. Bailey, is off to a good start.
4. I visited with Doug Whyte at the restored Hollywood Theater on Sandy Boulevard — the one which opened in 1926 and Doris passed by, admiring the lights and the throngs of people. 
I will be launching volume two, Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen, in September at the Hollywood, with a special 1920s movie night. Were thinking Champagne and Hollywood glam costumes from the 1920s. If you’re in Portland or environs, put September 25 on your calendar now.
5. Daughter Mia, who was my personal assistant and photographer, and I went to tea at the Heathman Hotel and wandered around Broadway and other downtown areas, snapping photos of places Doris mentioned in her diaries. We also rented a car one day and drove up to see the house on Culpepper Terrace, the house on The Alameda, and the house on NE 23rd Avenue, where Doris lived in all her years in Portland. We took a road trip to Salem to meet with Facebook friend Heather Ryan, who is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Collective, and stopped in Oak Grove to see the house where Doris’s best friend Marjie Dana lived. The Dana house in Oak Grove is on the National Historic Registry now, as Marjie’s father, Marshall Dana, was the editor of the Oregonian newspaper for many years and very well known in Portland and local area.
6. I was interviewed by news radio KXL by Lacey Evans, a charming woman who had read the diaries and enjoyed them in I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do. The short interview (just a few minutes long) ran twice, and I will attach the mp3 if I can make the technology behave. (fingers crossed)
7. I had a meetup with a handful of Doris fans at the Laughing Planet Cafe in NW Portland, and that was a nice chance to relax and chat with people who are new to Doris and her adventures as well as people who have been following her for a while now. Thanks for coming out, friends!
It’s hard to believe I have been curating these diaries for less than two years, but it’s true. In fact, it’s not until September that I really hit the anniversary marker. March is a good but sad month, because it’s Doris’s birthday (March 11) but also the month in which she died (March 21), and because it’s also Women’s History Month, I feel like that’s a great way to remember Doris and honor her legacy. I hope, yes, I fervently hope that she knows this and is glad.
In April: The new Doris Diaries web site will come online (a few months behind, oops!), and I am relaunching Tongues of Angels, the novel first published 10 years ago.  Lots more blogging to come — and I will be interviewing two of my sister authors later this month about their new works. Come back and say hi, will ya?
See you in the cloud.

raising the roof

or, our fate is ceiled. More work at the Green House: look, we have a ceiling!

And then they (our dear friends Arturo and G) covered up that beautiful insulation with Sheetrock, and it looks like this (below), except with tape and mud over the seams; the ceiling awaits some love from a paint roller. Thanks very much to the efforts of Arturo and Guillermo, we are almost ready for — wait for it — prime time (painting joke there).
That’s on the inside of the house. On the outside, all is well. All our girls came up to visit and hang at the river last weekend, and here they are on the deck with Pa. (He’s the fourth Stooge, wearing his signature T-shirt.) This is the reason we wanted a place of our own — for family fun like this 🙂
However, they weren’t our only visitors. The neighborhood cat, Jax, thinks it’s his house, too. He has no qualms about coming in and sitting on the furniture. It is common neighborhood gossip that he is the father of our kitten. So — in that sense, he’s family.
In the past week or so we added more plants to the outside rock-lined flower beds — my mother gave me a bunch of strawberry plants, some yarrow and chives, and a tomato seedling had snuck into one of the pots. All were planted except the tomato, which needs a little more growing time in the pot if it is to survive in the wild. The only expense in the garden thus far has been the purchase of the eight lavender plants, at a cost of $20 (I couldn’t figure out how to get them for free). Patrick and I worked on creating steps from the road up into the “terraced garden” (euphemism for “rock pile,” so far). We dug and leveled and used discarded 2x4s to build the risers, with slices off a long piece of rebar we found behind the house. So far, it looks good; will post a photo next time.
I was looking at expenses, and we are below $1000 in materials and supplies — well below. Wood for beams, insulation, writing, nails and other hardware supplies, Sheetrock — not terribly expensive. Food for a work crew and eco-friendly paint are a little more costly than I expected. Labor, of course, costs the most, but since we’ve asked two friends to help, we don’t mind paying what they’re worth, and as a labor of love, these two fine gentlemen have gone far beyond what a random contractor would have. They are treating their handiwork as if it was their own home. Safety, fixing existing code violations, ensuring that the ceiling is water-tight and energy-efficient, talking to the roofer who didn’t want to do a certain task for us (so he did it!), etc. Can’t say enough about my two guys!
I must mention gloves here. I am a wearer of gloves — not for doing dishes (I rather like to play in the water), but for any kind of cleaning or other labor, I wear gloves. I also wear them on public transportation because I’m a little fussy about germs, but that’s another post. Anyhoo, as I was digging up rocks around the “terraced garden” (ahem), I dislodged not just one but three scorpions. They are about 2-3 inches long and look pretty nasty. At first they play dead, then they get mad and try to kill you. I scoop them into a jar and we carry them away and toss them into bushes and rocks away from our yard. They look like crawdads — too bad they aren’t edible. Alas, I think their bite is worse than their food value.
So that cemented it — our yard is a gloves-on affair. So — I wore holes in my gloves. Here’s my fix:

A good old ironing board, iron-on patches and 5 minutes of my time. I also sewed up the seams a little tighter, where they had been fraying. A $2 pair of cotton gloves will now last me another few months, if not longer. Don’t they look like something a clown would wear? Well, I’ll be your clown, and I won’t have to touch spiders or scorpions. For heavy rock work, I actually wear leather gloves, but these are for my basic gardening.

I am currently packing for an extended stay at our river cottage through mid-August — it’s Mr Husband’s annual vacation and we’re taking the Boy and his friend to hang out in the sun, water and rocks. No scorpions allowed. Fishing, floating, canoeing, and some hikes in the woods are on the agenda. For me, more wall-painting — because that’s fun for me 🙂 But also, lots of reading and puttering and daydreaming. I might even break out the poetry journal and do some writing.

When we get back to civilization (Alameda) again, we kick into high gear for back-to-school prep, plus one daughter is moving out and another moving in, and a foreign exchange student is set to arrive Aug. 22. So off we go. I look forward to a little calm and quiet before the crazy.

Peace out, homeys, until mid-August.

such a weirdo

This is my life. In pictures.

These are the sunflowers that went wild in the garden, then squirrels went nuts (heh heh) and tore them to shreds. I rescued these beauties because they look like something right out of Van Gogh’s studio. And…they shed pollen everywhere. And are a pain in the a** to clean up. And now their vase water stinks. Here I am, simultaneously appreciating their beauty and going wah wah wah [insert whining noises here]. Oy vey.

Here is what a tree-hugging urban-farmer hippy chick eats for breakfast:  homemade granola (crunchy!), homemade whole milk (from a local dairy) yogurt, local honey and farmers’ market peaches and plums plus backyard blackberries. It’s what’s for breakfast. The yogurt, by the way, is absolutely awesome — creamy, no weird gelatin crap or preservatives in it, not too tangy, and I think it cost me like $1 to make a quart of it. Absofreakinlutely fabu.
Ah, the familia!  Here’s everyone! Eating roasted veggies and melon and bread-site baguettes and drinking local wine — I think the white is a Kunde chardonnay (thanks, Robin!) and the red is one of Colin’s tasty homemade cabs (thanks, doc!). Look at these goofs! And they’re all mine.

OK, the squirrels are starting to p*ss me off. This is the trash can with a tight-fitting lid where we keep the chicken and bird food. Somebody got hungry and ate through the heavy plastic lid. How annoying, not to mention destructive, and plastic can’t really be fixed. I love the squirrels, but they are very, very naughty. I would spank them if I could just catch one. I suspect they are not my friends but are just using me to get to the peanuts.

OK, I just had to make these even more fabulous. We stopped in the Alameda Bicycle shop today and my daughter bought me some crocheted bicycle gloves. My other ones are black and The Boy has been admiring them but has not yet stolen them. Now he can have them, and I will wear these cream-colored crocheted gloves. But that’s not all!

…I improved them by embroidering some Lazy Daisy stitches on the backs. Now no one will take my gloves by mistake. How cute is that?
Know what? That’s all I’ve got for today.
Peace out, my friends.