04 December 2013

December Update

Hello, Friends!

Well, I did it.  I completed NaNoWriMo!  It was a struggle, of course, to get 50,000 cohesive words written in 30 days, but it was fun.  Some days were amazing!  Some days the characters took over and told their stories and I was just the fingers on the keyboard.  Some days… not so much.  The story is one I started telling my daughter when she was little.  It’s about a brave girl who sees that something is wrong in the world and sets out to fix it.  Some of the characters are clearly family members of ours (including me and Zoe), but most of it is purely imagination.  I haven’t actually finished the story, however, because 50,000 words were not enough.  Well, it may end up being about that length after editing, but the story itself isn’t finished yet.  I will continue working on this project though because it was interesting, fun, and (mostly) a pleasure to write.

During the last week of the month, I came down with a wretched cold.  A cold so bad that I had to miss work, which I rarely do.  It is still lingering with a yucky head full of snot and a deep, phlegmy cough.  Gross.  We had to push our Thanksgiving dinner back a day because I was just too tired to prepare anything.  Zoe and Rob came down and it was great to have the help in the kitchen (Zoe, not Rob, obvs).  We had seven people for dinner.  My dad and the local (crazy) brother came and my brother brought a friend.  Which was a surprise!  My dad called about 15 minutes before they came over to let me know.  Hey, thanks for the heads up!  It was fine, of course, but I did have to set an extra place and rearrange some of the dishes and linens.  I have six matching plates but I didn’t want her to feel like she was crashing the party so I mixed them all up.  Oh, the trials and tribulations, right?  Ha!

Besides me coming down with the cold, T picked up a stomach bug from her mother.  The day before Thanksgiving, her mom had to go to the hospital for rehydration, and thankfully T was not quite that bad.  But, on Friday, T was up all night puking and was weak and shaky the next day.  Naturally, I was afraid that it was food poisoning, but no one else got sick so I’m pretty sure it was the bug that her mom had and not my cooking.

While I was sick, I was too tired to even read your blogs.  I’m sorry!  I have been catching up little by little and hope to add my two cents by the end of the week.

That winter holiday is fast approaching.  You know, the Solstice.  The return of the light.  And the other quasi-religious one that superseded it.  We haven’t done any decorating yet, but the niece is coming over this weekend and I think we’ll get some lights strung up outside and maybe even put up a tree.  It could happen!  Can you believe that it’s December already?!?!  Wow.   

I will add one more thing, which is work related.  Did I mention that we had hired an awesome gal to fill that open position?  Well, three weeks into the job she gave her notice.  Said it just wasn’t the right fit for her.  Sigh.  So, I’m back to interviewing applicants.  The only ray of sunshine on that front is that the gal who left the job a year ago to go back to school is between programs right now and called to ask if we needed any help.  YAY!  We were able to hire her back as a temp and that has taken a lot of pressure off the rest of the staff, myself included.  Super thankful for that, o blessed Universe!

Ok, I guess that’s all the updating I’ve got for the moment.  Thanks for reading!  Have a lovely day, all of you lovely people… 

Affectionately yours,

10 October 2013

Thoughts on Autumn

The View from my Window

Fall came suddenly this year in the Pacific Northwest.  We were enjoying summer one day and the next day the skies opened and the water poured down.  It rained hard for a week and a half.  The trees, with their full complement of leaves, were heaving in the wind.  Branches broke, power lines snapped, and gutters overflowed in every neighborhood.

Some deciduous trees change color and drop their leaves in response to temperature, others in response to day length.  Two weeks into October, the temperatures are dropping, the days are growing shorter and the leaves are changing in every neighborhood.

From my office window the view is dense with foliage.  Against the dark green of Douglas firs, the native alders turn a rusty yellow.  They are not showy trees.  Another native, the Big Leaf maples are slightly lighter in hue but again, they don’t wear their colors like a debutante wears a gown.  More pale still are the cottonwoods, and while they aren’t bright with color, they are bright with movement.  Their leaves flicker in the wind and catch the eye.

Because I live in the city, there are many non-native trees in the landscape.  From my window is a luminous yellow tree which glows like a round torch when the sun strikes it.  Even on a dark and cloudy day it shines in bright contrast to the somber natives.  My eyes are drawn to it again and again during its brief time of seasonal glory.

There are reds and russets of maples and oaks and more yellows and oranges of elms and ash.  The purple-leaved ornamental plums turn a burnished bronze as the temperature dips.  The sweet gums and dogwoods, the tulip trees and liquidambars all blaze as their chlorophyll breaks down and the trees store up energy for the winter.

Soon, the deciduous trees will be bare but our hills never are.  The evergreens are as thick as a winter pelt.  Douglas firs tower over the landscape whether in town or in the country.  There are cedars and spruce and pine on every hill.  As the deciduous trees fade into the background, the conifers make up for their absence.  The variety in shades of green is astounding.  Some so dark and deep that they nearly look black and others almost a yellowy green that reminds us spring will come again.

But today, the view at work is dominated by that glowing ball of bright yellow.  This tree will hold its leaves for another week or so and the parade of colorful trees will march in time for a little longer.  After that, rain-soaked woods and a palette of gray and green will be the view from my window.

25 September 2013

Oh Dear

Oh dear.

Time has flown, yet again.  Hey, did you know that the phrase ‘Tempus fugit’ doesn’t mean ‘Time flies’ but rather ‘Time flees’.  Still, I learned in university that ‘Time flies like the wind, but fruit flies like raspberries.’

Umm… where was I?

Oh, yes, my poor neglected blog.  Sigh.

So, the good news is that we have extended and offer to an applicant for our open position and she has accepted it.  Halle-fucking-lujah!  This time it’s going to be so, so much better than the last time when the top bosses didn’t listen to me.  They hired a nut and we all paid the price.  This time, they agreed with my choice and I have high hopes for this woman in this job.  Extremely qualified.  Friendly, but not pushy or weird with it.  Young enough to think this is a great position, but not childishly young.  I’m hopeful.  This is good news because it means that the unreasonable workload that I and my entire staff have been struggling under will be lifting soon.  Mid October, to be precise.  I am ready for it!

But, I did want to say hello to you all who happen to drift by here every now and again.  Hello!  I also wanted to update you on some goings on around Chez E.

So, the whole marriage equality thing.  Raise your hand if you have mixed emotions about getting married.  Me!  Me!  I do!

We were watching tv the other night and there was something on about gay marriage and T looked over and said, ‘When are we going to get married?’

I have been dreading this conversation for a quite awhile.  I remained silent.

Marriage is now legal in Washington State, which is right across the river from us and just happens to be my partner’s home state.  But, I thought I was safe because hey, we live in Oregon!  Not legal here!  Plenty of our people have crossed the river and pledged their troth in the ‘Couv, though.  It’s easy, if you want to get married.

Then she said, ‘You liked someone’s post about marriage equality, right?  Well, don’t you want to get married?’

I, trying hard not to sound panicky or hunted, said, ‘Well, I believe that we should have equal rights, including marriage, but I don’t necessarily want to get married.’  What a waffler!

‘Why? Why not get married?’ and then the inevitable ‘Don’t you love me enough to get married?’


Don’t go there!  For the love of all things fleeting and temporary, please don’t go there!

Because, no.  I don’t want to get married.

I was married once.  To a man.  It was disastrous.  Thank the Heavens Above that my daughter and I survived.  And, yes, I realize that this is completely different.  T is not a man.  She is a lovely, hardworking, compassionate, funny, attractive, sexy, needy, clingy, joined-at-the-hip, self-doubting woman.  So, you know, a regular gal.  A typical lesbian – if there is such a thing.

We are registered domestic partners.  That felt like enough to me, even though it is definitely a second class citizen category.  I am in favor of marriage equality in theory, and for other people.  I just don’t want to get married!

There’s another aspect that I haven’t told her yet.  My workplace just announced that they will begin treating all same sex married persons the way the IRS does; which means that they will subtract one’s benefit dollars from one’s income pre-tax instead of post-tax.  That makes one’s taxable gross smaller, so that one pays less in income tax.  Well, isn’t that wonderful!  Yes, it is!  But, it’s really going to force my hand.  Why can’t they treat domestic partnership the same?  Wah, wah, wah.  I should be celebrating, not whining.

But, here’s the thing.  I have never been ‘all in’ in this relationship.   I’ve never felt that this was going to last.  I’m astounded that we’re still together after 5 years.  I’m a coward for not breaking up, if I feel that way, but it’s not a bad relationship.  It’s not like either of us is mean to the other or treats the other badly.  We get along well enough.  But, well enough for what?  For marriage?  I don’t think so.

Oh, I know, we can always get divorced if we part ways.  Well, yes, but why would I get married if I thought it was going to end in divorce eventually?  That makes no sense either.  I’m telling you, I had a hard time signing up for domestic partnership for these very reasons.  But, in order to put T on my insurance, I had to. 

So, there I am.  Staring down the specter of marriage when I should be celebrating it.  What’s a gal to do?  What would you do?

Oh, one other piece of news.  Because my partner works for – and volunteers for -  the county animal shelter, we are now fostering a puppy.  Super cute mutt that is probably a cross between a pit bull and a shar pei.  Funny looking little girl dog.  Very smart, very loving, very puppy-ish.  

10 July 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Early

The busy season at my work is slowly tapering off.  Thank goodness, because I am tired!  One of my team members was out most of the critical two weeks (last week of June, first week of July) and I had to step in and do some big chunks of her job.  For part of her work assignment she needs to arrive before 7:00 am.  In her case, that’s no problem – in fact, she prefers the early shift.  For me, not so much.

I used to work early rather than late.  I typically arrived around 7am and left around 3:30 or 4pm.  I did that for many years.  And, as an early riser, it wasn’t a big deal.  There’s a lot to be said for the early shift, especially having time after work to actually get stuff done rather than just come home and eat dinner and go to bed.

But, when my mom was dying, I switched up my work schedule.  I spent the mornings with her which allowed my dad to take a long nap and run errands.  I was going to work around 12:30 or 1:00 pm and working until 8 or 9 in the evening.  At least, some of the time I stayed that late.  Plenty of days I was just too exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally, to stay that late.

Something about that whole summer and fall changed my internal clock.  Something that drove me to stay on schedule and on track just broke. 

Since then, I arrive at work anywhere from 8:30 to 10:30 in the morning and stay, usually, until 6:00 or 7:00 in the evening.  My coworkers are used to it and my bosses don’t care, so I just come in when I feel like it and leave when I’ve had enough. 

So, the past couple of weeks have been a reminder of what the early shift feels like.  Tiring!  I’ve also noticed the differences in the commute.  Both the bike commute and the bus commute are different at those early hours.  The bus is crowded!  I mean, sardine can crowded.  7:00 to 3:00 is a very typical hospital shift and there are a multitude of us here.  And the bike commute, wow.  So many rude and impatient riders at those early hours!  Of course, it doesn’t help when the Tour de France is going on.  We get all of these lunatics who think they will earn a yellow jersey or be King of the Mountain by racing down the streets and nearly knocking the rest of us aside.  Ugh.  And don’t get me started on their damned lycra biking outfits!  Bunch of horses asses out there…  so unnecessary.

But, the early morning is cool and lovely and I don’t give a fig if the racers all race by me.  I’m still out pedaling along at my fairly sedate pace and arriving to work cool and calm and not all sweaty and agitated.

This morning, however, my errant coworker is back and I sure as hell did not get up at the crack of dawn and show up to work early!  I rolled in around 8:30 and it felt pretty good.  Will it be hard to stay later this afternoon?  I don’t think so.  I like the later hours because after 4pm it’s nice and quiet and I get a lot more done without all of the interruptions.  It’s a trade off, but I think I’m getting the good end of the bargain.

21 June 2013

Life, work, ptsd and other stuff

So, long time no posting, yeah?  Sorry about that.  As you know, I have been in a funk.  And, to add to it, I have been plagued by PTSD triggers as well lately.  I’m back to a weekly schedule with my therapist, and we are digging down into some subterranean layers.  Ugh.  It’s not pretty.  But, I’m hopeful that with more time and examination things will settle down.

I’m actively working on being compassionate to my younger self.  Instead of beating her up about things she did or didn’t do, I’m realizing that she did her best.  (No, I don’t usually refer to myself in the third person!)  My mother used to say, “God gave me this puny body and I do the best I can with what I got.”  It’s a quote from something, but I don’t know what.  And, I did do the best I could at the time.  And I’m trying to not give more weight to what I didn’t do, or what I see now as what I should have done, but instead to realize that I did my best.  Does that make sense?  Hindsight, you know, can tie you up in knots.

So, that’s where I am right now.  It’s not exactly a happy place.  But, in the end it may lead to greater happiness, thus my willingness to go there.  But still, yuck.

Besides that, what else is going on?

Pride!  Portland Pride was last weekend.  We went to a variety of fun events and had a good time overall.  I will say that my gf spent the majority of the parade in the bar with her friends while I was out in the sunshine watching the extravaganza.  I didn’t care.  I got to feel slightly superior in that they seemed like a bunch of drunks while I felt pretty darned virtuous, but I shouldn’t really mention that because it makes me sound like a stuck up prude or something.  I scored big on parade swag, though!  Go me!

Work trudges on, seemingly endlessly.  This is the big academic and fiscal year turnover right now so we are busy as all get out.  We are also short-handed.  We had hired a gal in February who most definitely did not work out and we let her go in April.  Still waiting to get permission to fill that position.  That means that the rest of us are working extra hard.  And, boy oh boy, did I ever screw up.  We have half a dozen incoming fellows who I got credentialed and enrolled but forgot to hire!  Holy crap!  I’m scrambling now.  Might just pull off a Hail Mary on this one, but we’ll see.  Plus one of them is coming a week earlier – a fact that the program director didn’t tell me about.  Sigh.

My brother and his family arrived last night for their yearly visit.  I’m always glad to see them, but I wish they weren’t here during my busiest week!  Still, I get to hang out with my sister-in-law and she is all kinds of awesome.  Unfortunately, the Kid is not coming down for the weekend.  She and her man have a house guest at the same time.  Argh!

In three weeks we are going camping with our favorite neighbors.  It’s trailer camping, people, don’t get too excited.  They have a fancy, newish trailer and we have our darling little vin tage trailer.  We’re going to a spot on the Clackamas River.  It’s close to Portland but out in the woods.  The neighbors are bringing their folding boat.  I don’t know anything else about that but … folding boat … sounds intriguing.  I’ll let you know!

We plan on doing some fishing while we are there.  The Clackamas is well stocked and has native salmon and trout as well.  OH!  We bought a smoker!  For, you know, smoked fish.  We’ve used it a few times and it is fan-freaking-tastic!  I can’t wait to catch some of the slippery little buggers and take them home for smoking.  Yum.  My big plan is to drive out to the coast when the season is on, and buy a whole tuna when the charter boats come in.  Have you ever had smoked tuna?  So.Damned.Good.  SO GOOD!  Better even than smoked salmon, and I am a salmon lover.  Try it!  Just sayin’.

Been riding my bike when the weather permits.  We’ll have a solid week of tolerable weather and everyone gets all excited and then the clouds and the rain come back.  I’m not really complaining, just commenting.  I do love to ride my bike, though, and it is so much faster than taking the bus.  I won’t knock the bus too badly – I get some great reading time when I’m on the bus and that makes up for the loss of the bike ride.

Looking forward to canning season.  I've just about finished up or given away all of last summer's jam.  I have to say - I'm good at jam.  And, I get so much pleasure out of it.  I love making jam and I love eating jam.  I also love sharing jam.  I'm the kind of person who, if you tell me that you love my jam, you will never run out.  I always make way too much, at least, too much for one household, but that just means that I get to share a lot.  And that makes me happy.

There’s probably loads more I could jot down, but I’m at work and I think you know how busy it is round here.  I’d better get back to it.  Have a lovely weekend, all.  Happy Pride!


15 May 2013


She who hasn’t tasted the bitter, doesn’t understand the sweet.

Or something like that.

I’m sure you’ve read or heard that one before, I certainly have.  It kept running through my mind last Sunday, Mother’s Day. 

Sweet, yes, because my daughter drove down for a quick visit.  It is always a welcome and restorative occasion when the Kid comes for a visit.  Her leaving can send me into a minor tailspin, but not so much that I don’t want her to visit.

Bitter, because Mother’s Day without your mother is sad.   It just is.  I miss my mom.  I felt so aggrieved and sorry for myself with all of the FB postings of friends getting together with their moms.  Jealous.  Pitiful.  Orphaned.  I did post something about missing my mom, and several people agreed and commiserated.  And, I reached out to a friend whose mother died more recently than mine and let her know that I was thinking about her.  But, still… 

It’s now the Wednesday after Mother’s Day and I should have bounced back by now.  But, it’s gray and rainy and my job is a mess and my apathy is growing exponentially.  I don’t know if I need to give myself a stern talking-to or let myself wallow in the emotions.  Well, I’m not really wallowing.  But I’m not trying to dig myself out, either.  Somewhere in the middle, I guess. 

Last week, my therapist suggested that we start working on a big issue that I have been avoiding.  The issue of self worth, of the yardsticks I use to measure myself by, of my persistent belief that I have achieved nothing of worth or value, of my certainty that I am a disappointment to my self and family.  I have no way to reframe those judgments in my mind.  I look at myself and my life and see nothing of note, nothing worth writing home about. 

I guess it’s time to work on that.  It also feels bittersweet – or maybe just bitter.

My apologies for such negativity; I’m feeling down today.  Probably not the best time to be posting…

16 April 2013


The solace of nature and especially the solace of trees, is a well described feeling. One of the few Christian bible verses that I know resonates for me because of that feeling. "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help."

We lift our eyes to the hills, if they are within view; to the trees, if we have any, or to the sky, if we can see it. We lift our gaze above our surroundings, above that which troubles us. 

I found myself outside last night. It was cool and damp with a light misty rain falling. It was the golden hour, that time when the sun, an hour or so before sunset, gleams, slanting across the city, under the cloud cover. Last night, the very air was golden, the trees glowing. 

I don't understand the how and why of acts of terror. I truly believe that most people's wish is to live in peace, free to pursue their dreams. I can’t understand how blowing up innocent people furthers anyone’s aims. 

And, you know what?  I don’t want to understand that.  I don’t want that knowledge in my head.  I’m ok with remaining ignorant of the why and the how of acts of terror.  Some things are better not known.

I do know this.  When we are shocked or stunned or grieving for any reason, spending some time outside, breathing deeply of the evening air, meditating, watching the wind move the leaves of a beautiful tree, we begin to heal.

01 April 2013

I'm Back!

Dear Friends,
It’s been a while, I know.  A matter of months, right?  Well, I’m back.  Mostly. 

I took the time away from reportage to challenge myself to a math course at Portland State University.  I’ve learned some important things!  Like, the slope-intercept formula… good fun, that one!  I can graph a line like a mad woman now.  But, more importantly, I’ve learned this: Math makes me grouchy.

Not disgruntled, not out of sorts, not even really grouchy… I should probably say that Math Pisses Me Off.  Oh, it’s not Math’s fault; it’s not really a fault thing at all.  I should be, and am, irritated with myself for forgetting all of this hard-earned knowledge in the first place.  But, apparently I needed to subject myself to the torture of an 8am, twice a week class with loads of homework (thankfully we’re on the quarter system and not semesters) to really grasp the fact that my aspirations do not lie down the academic path I had envisioned.

All of that being said, I could not spare a single moment to keep you all updated on this hare-brained scheme.  Besides the lack of blogging, I haven’t read a book for pleasure in all this time!  I’m catching up, though.  I’ve read two since the final exam.  Enjoyed the hell out of them, too!*  But, now that I have come to my senses and put aside the notion that I was pursuing, I should be able to get back on the blogging horse and ride, baby, ride!

I would also like to say thank you to those of you who have emailed or messaged me to say, What’s up?  I appreciate that so much!  I’m still around, even though I haven’t even had the time to read your blogs much…  I have some catching up to do.

I also have to do some reevaluating of my plans.  I still want to build my lovely mechanical contraptions but I’ll just have to go about it in a different way. 

There may also be more courses at the University.  I might need to take a nice Literature class to get the bad mathematical taste out of my mouth.  I need to remind myself that I am good at something, dammit!  I was an Honor student, for crying out loud!

I’m not sure what I am doing next, but I’ll keep you posted.

*Monkey Mind, A memoir of anxiety. By Daniel Smith
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
Enjoyed them both!