Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday: Yes, Size Does Matter

I know Ikea isn't just in Portland, but I was in Portland when I saw this huge sign over the registers as I was checking out.  I laughed too hard not to post it as something weird in Portland.

It's not the hot dog.  It's not the price (although for hot dog lovers, fifty cents seems grand).  It's not that Ikea has food.  My grandgirl used to love to go to Ikea for meatballs and gravy.  No, none of this cracked me up.  It's that smaller notice at the bottom right....

Apparently, the large dog costs more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

National Pink Out Day: In Support of PP

Today is National Pink Out Day.  Planned Parenthood will to offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases this day.

Planned Parenthood has been a staple in our lives for 99 years. The first birth control clinic was opened on October 16, 1916.  According to Wikipedia (a source I told my students to neve ruse, BTW) Margaret Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. All three women were arrested and jailed for violating provisions of the Comstock Act, accused of distributing "obscene materials" at the clinic. 

The so-called "Brownsville trials" brought national attention and support to their cause. Sanger and her co-defendants were convicted on misdemeanor charges, and they appealed this through two subsequent appeals courts. While the convictions were not overturned, the Judge that issued the final ruling also modified the law to permit physician prescribed birth control. Their campaign overall, then, led to major changes in the laws governing birth control and sex education in the United States.

Today PP offers many more services to women.  They are a great source of information.  They provide clear, up-to-date, medically accurate information that helps us better understand our sexual health. While the majority of those who would prefer to shut down the organization is information and conducting of abortion, Planned Parenthood provides many other services and information.  They include information and counseling, and treatment of important aspects of our sexual health including:
  • both women's and men's sexual health care
  • body image
  • general health care
  • birth control, including the Morning After pill (emergency contraception)
  • relationships
  • pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted infections and diseases
  • sexuality
  • sexual orientation and gender
  • women's health

up-to-date, clear, medically accurate information that helps you better understand your sexual health. - See more at:
up-to-date, clear, medically accurate information that helps you better understand your sexual health. - See more at:
up-to-date, clear, medically accurate information that helps you better understand your sexual health. - See more at:
For nearly 45 years I have been supporting the battle of reproduction rights through rallies, protests, and volunteering. I stand behind this organization that funds birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing, helps women and men decide what is best in many aspects of their lives, and supports women during scary times in their lives.


Monday, September 28, 2015

What Do You Believe?

photo by Etsy photographer bomobob, Montreal, QC, Canada
 Fall is all around us and the newest political rounds are starting to heat up. Listening to "debates" between presidential hopefuls is a fascinating study of poor communication. It all just started and I am already tired of listening to people adamantly state their own points of view by slinging mud and hatred toward those who hold a different opinion. I am tired of the hostility between sides. It seems we are constantly divided within our communities, in our neighborhoods, our nation...all because we are self-focused, poor listeners, poor communicators.

Since no one else is going to do it, let us become the uniters, not the dividers. Embrace differences. Learn from one another.

Here is what I believe: 
I believe that I can be friends with people who don't believe the same as I do.

I believe that everyone deserves respect for his or her ideals, values and opinions.

I believe that in a democracy we have the right and the responsibility to question authority, and the very fact we do it strengthens that democracy.

I believe a person who questions authority may be even more patriotic than the person who follows unquestioningly.

I believe that two people who love one another should be allowed to marry regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

I believe that men and women should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

I believe that war is never the answer.

I believe that the scent of lavender could very well calm us all down, ending wars and arguments and sleepless nights.

I believe in magic.

I believe in love.

I believe that love and magic are connected.

I believe that journalists must be focused on change because of the nature of the press: think why and how newspapers were first created in this country in order to create and persuade us of social change.

I believe we should all take that first step to our futures on faith.

I believe that racism and prejudice and discrimination are the true evils of a society.

I believe that eating broccoli will keep me alive forever.

I believe that global warming will eventually bring us to extinction. 

I believe that car manufacturers purposefully installed turn signals in order to indicate lane changes and turns; therefore, drivers should actually use them.

I believe that we are all connected in some way.

I believe in karma.

I believe we should take care of one another, not turning our heads when things ugly happen.

I believe in the human spirit, in the greatness of people, in humanity.

I believe that I love my country just as much as the people who have multiple flags on display.

I believe that we can change the world and that one person makes a difference.

I believe that everyone deserves a second chance at some time in his or her life.

I believe that if you hate your job, you should quit.

I believe that children should be able to retain their innocence for as long as it is useful to them.

I believe we should take risks in relationships, in business, in ourselves rather than sit complacently.

I believe that a child's creativity should never be squelched, that no one should be forced to color inside the lines, and spontaneous made-up songs should be encouraged.

I believe that the joys of menopause have been exaggerated.

I believe the world needs bean-counters, dreamers and planners in equal proportions.

I believe that a beautiful quilt or painting or poem or photograph adds positive energy into the atmosphere. 

I believe that no one ever actually wins a war.

I believe the saltandsandandsea smell of the ocean is the most best most wonderful most calming most invigorating smell ever created.  

I believe that when in doubt, we should twirl....


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday Throwback: My First Quilt

First quilt, 1974
When my elder son was four months old, we moved to Grants Pass, Oregon. It was a rough go for us as my children's father went through 10 jobs in three years. My cousin suggested we move to Portland, where he could help Jim get a job. So we took our food stamps and meager goods and moved to Portland in 1974. Things were better in Portland.

A woman from our church gave me some cut pieces of fabric of three colors and suggested I make a quilt. The fabrics were red, black and blue. About that same time, we bought an old treadle machine at a flea market. It was about $25 and needed some work. 

I loved this machine. It was so much more fun than my wonderful Singer that I received as a high school graduation gift from my parents. Once it was working, I could sew while the boys slept. That's when I put together the blocks for the quilt top. I decided to give it to my mother for Christmas that year.

I had no idea what to put inside to make it warm, so I cut down an old holey blanket and made that the batting. And then I bought a piece of flannel--very inexpensive--and made that the backing. I used the leftover block fabric as the binding and tied it with red yarn.

When my parents arrived for Christmas, my elder son, four years old, was so excited about the quilt that he told my mom that we had a present for her but he couldn't tell her it was a blanket. Too cute :) I eventually forgot about the quilt.
"First quilt" in 2003

Fast forward to 2003. My aunt, who was a wonderful quilter, had died and the family put many of her quilts on display at her memorial service. I looked at these wonderful quilts and thought, "Hey, I can do that."  When I came home, I went to a neighborhood five and dime--they had fabric downstairs in the basement--and bought a pattern and some flannel to make a quilt.  In my mind, this was my first quilt!  I have since made hundreds of quilts.

Not many years ago, I was visiting my mom. I didn't like sleeping with the old bedspread she had on the guest bed. While looking through her closet for more pillows, I found the old quilt I had made her in 1974 on the old treadle machine. What fun! I used it instead. I realized she had never used it all these years. So I washed it and put it away in the cupboard when I was ready to leave, bringing it out again the next visit. When we cleaned out my mom's place after she moved into the nursing facility, I brought it home. It is well-loved as one of my favorite lap quilts.

I have always given my aunt credit for getting me started in quilting, but credit should go to the church woman who generously gave me some pieces of fabric with which to play.

Happy sewing~~~

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday: Tethering the Horses

All photos here were stolen from the web :)
Horse rings are a throwback in time. Portland, like many cities throughout the nation, had horse rings from the late 1800s. They were embedded into curbs so visitors and customers could tether their horses or horse-drawn carriages to the side of the road.

Now it seems that some smart people in city government in the 1970s decided to remove the horse rings as the city was being 'refreshed." They thought the horse rings were a safety hazard. The people complained. They missed their rings! Today, the city of Portland helps to preserve the rings by requiring them to be replaced following sidewalk construction or repair.

In 2005,  Scott Wayne Indiana tied his first plastic toy horse to a horse ring.  He felt Portlanders weren't appreciating the rings. This act of weirdness started The Horse Project. Over a hundred, 150 or so, of toy horses have been hitched to horse rings throughout the city, especially in the southeast Portland area. 

Well, mostly horses are hitched. But other animals and creatures have been tethered, like sea horses, tigers, mules, dinosaurs, pigs. People leave hay for the animals. They leave lassos, riders, saddles, water, wool blankets and other treats for the horses.  

In 2008, Portland residents Dave Tuttle and Whitney Johnson met over a horse ring photo Tuttle had posted online.  Four years later, he proposed to her at that very tethered horse sight.  They were married in 2013.  

Hitching to our horse rings in Portland...just one more way we keep it weird.


Monday, September 21, 2015

The Mars/Venus Connection

Today is the first day of classes at my college. Since I am retired, I don't get to feel that excitement and energy any longer. I miss it those first days of classes.  So I decided to discuss something leftover from classes I used to teach.
For so many years now we have been highlighting the differences between men and women. Men are from Mars? Women are from Venus? What a nice tidy way of dealing with miscommunication. Things not working out? That’s okay....we’re from different planets! TaDa! We can't work things out! *slapping the dust off our hands and moving on*

What a bunch of bunk. Yeah yeah I know. Men and women have different communication and women have different ways of approaching things. But the fact is, we all have the same goals and desires in this life. Just read all the books and articles on goals in life (okay, don’t try to read them all in one setting. It might be too much) and you can see that we are all searching for the same things: love, understanding, answers, fulfillment, happiness.

Although, it can sometimes seem as if we are of different species. I once read a humorous essay I believe Santa is a Woman,  which said, “Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the bag.” I dated a man once who lived the saying, “Brevity is good.” When I wanted to rehear those sweet words, “I love you,” he would look at me in wonder and reply, “What have I done to make you think I feel any differently?” *rolling my eyes*

A friend once told me this scenario: Her husband had sold a truck to a man down the street and one day she and her husband were driving by his house. The man was pushing a wheel barrel from behind the house toward a pile of sand out front. The truck was beside the sand. The man looked up and waved and my friend and her husband slowed down. The husband rolled down his window and yelled, “Sand!” while pointing to the pile of sand. The man grinned and gave the husband the “thumbs-up” sign. They both nodded and smiled and the couple drove off.  Her husband said to her, “That’s great!” She was confused and asked him what had just taken place. He replied, “Great sale! The truck is running well and he is able to do what he wants with it.” She was flabbergasted! How did he get all that from this “conversation”?? If it were reversed, the woman would have stopped, got out of the car and walked over to the truck, discussed how it was running, asked how the rear axle had felt as she drove to and from the sand place, talked about the loading, the sale, and the return trip, how it felt along the drive, moved on to how the family was doing, how the kids were feeling and if the other’s mother was getting better....

And I have no problem understanding how women can talk for hours and hours and hours about their relationships, itemizing every gift and word and glance and that the men in their lives can’t remember how many gifts were even given. That’s what we do--women talk about this stuff, reflect and dissect every nuance and glance, every sigh and vocal intonation change. And men, well men don’t. Look at the remote control/TV thing! Men hold the remote and sweep through 158 channels in about two no....while women do it this way: click..hmmmm hmmmm: hmmmm: no...and it takes them about two hours to get through the same 158 channels. Same results...same goals...just a little different approach :)

Yeah yeah yeah we all know this...I hear people say, “I just can’t talk to men (women)!”   Well...think about this more carefully. Can’t we easily talk to 99% of the men or women in our lives? We have no problem communicating with the gas station attendant (okay okay. Most of you probably don’t have any gas station attendants hanging around, but we do here in Oregon and they do out in New Jersey :). We have no problem talking with the sales clerks. So the real problem is that we “can’t talk” to those significant men or women in our lives.

I think all this focus on those differences men and women have in their communication is harmful. I really do. The Mars/Venus idea allows people to stay in their own communication styles and expect that they will not be understood. I have heard men say things like, “I like to crawl into my cave...I’m a man, dammit” and women say, “I am a much better communicator because I am a woman and he has to learn how to open up to me more.” It allows us to never change what we are doing because “this is the way I am! I am a woman/man dammit!” It doesn't matter if it is not working, we now have proof that we are as we are. It doesn't help us to move on to the next step--the So-What-Now step. Instead we say, “Well, that’s okay! We’re from different planets!  TaDa!  We can't work things out!” *slapping the dust off our hands and moving on*

Do you realize that gay and lesbian couples have the same basic problems with communication? Maybe it isn’t really a male/female communication problem but relational communication problem. Hmmmmmm

So we gotta face the truth. Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it. 


Friday, September 18, 2015

Travels With Zoë


For nine months out of the year, I drive 1000 south along I-5 from Portland, OR to Pomona, CA and back again. When I drive, I bring along my pup, Zoë. She hates riding in the car and hates the drive, so as a companion she pretty well sucks. But once we get to the motel or to my sister's home in Pomona, she is very happy to be with me. See, she hates for me to leave her behind and hates to come along. It is quite a paradox for a little pup.

I usually have a book or two on tape to listen to while I drive.  My favorite driving books are the series with Chief Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny. They keep me occupied for over 12 hours each and I never know who done it until the end. They are rich in character, Canadian landscape and culture.  Good stuff! But this trip I didn't have any books. Oh I downloaded two, but for the life of me I couldn't remember how to transfer them onto my iPod. Damn drugs...a mind is a terrible thing to waste. So I had music to listen to and could watch the characters on the road to keep me entertained.  Oh yeah. And Zoë, who only lifts her head from her car bed at rest stops.

So there are some things I noticed along the way:
  • There are some mean aggressive drivers out there.  You know the ones I mean. They pull up close to the car ahead, a car that is cruising beside a semi and can't move over, and pushes them as far as they can with inches to spare between them, sometimes blinking lights at them.  WTH?
  • I know that the lyrics to Manfred Mann's Blinded by the Light are:
    And she was blinded by the light
    Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night....

    But still I hear:
    And she was blinded by the light
    Wrapped up like a douche, another owner in the night
  • Gotta drive-dance to Footloose.  Can't sit still.
  • Why do some people slow down as they pass a semi?
  • Passed a truck that had "THE WILD SIDE OF FRUIT" on it's truck side and got me to thinking which fruits could be the wildest. I mean, cherries can pop juicy in your mouth.  Maybe that's kinda wild. Bananas aren't wild unless someone is wildly wearing them on their head. Oh maybe a mango could be wild? Bet the truck was part of a traveling show. Come see the wild fruits! Only a quarter for a ticket!
  • Caught some gas in Medford for $2.67/gallon. Life is good.
Richard Harris leaving
the cake out in the rain
  •  Whoever thought it was a good idea for Richard Harris to sing?
  • Temperature changed the farther south I drove. It was 60 degrees and wet when I left Portland. By the time I got to Redding, CA, it was 105. It stayed between 105-106 the rest of the way south.
  • All that hot didn't help the cow farms along the way. Wow wow wow thousands of hot hot...stink stink stink.
  •  Saw cars from WA, OR, CA, TX, AZ, CO, ID, GA, NM, IN, AR, FL, UT, NB, MN, British Columbia
  • Huge lightning storm hit while going over the Grapevine/Tejon Pass.  Rain falling so hard no one could see.  Many pulled over to the side of the road. Many slowed down to a crawl. I have only hit this type of rainfall when driving through Ohio. Lightning started a grass fire along the side of the road. Ironically, it was right at Smokey Bear Road.
  • Some grills on white trucks look like a storm trooper is coming after you.
  •  Pyramid Lake, near Castaic, CA, is so low that its water is algae green rather than blue. And when I say green, I mean GREEN. No one using that lake this summer.
  • There was a tire leaning against a fence, looking casual, like it's arm was over the top of the fence and chewing on a straw. But I know it had to be starting to panic as it searched the freeway for its herd. I understand feral tires.
  •  One of my favorite flowers is the wild mini-sunflowers that pop up here and there along the freeway. I think I might get a tattoo of it on my upper right arm, with two Shasta Daisies intertwined. I always wanted a second tattoo :)
  •  Followed a truck for quite some time on the way home (s-l-o-w-l-y through the heavy rains along I-210, accidents everywhere, one closing the 210 ramp into Pasadena so I had to drive a round-about way to get to I-5) that had a huge door hanging painted on the back that said:  10,000 color door hangers $299!  Wow. $299. I think there has to be a rather specific market for that product, eh?
  •  Mom told me a story that when they laid I-5 in the early 70s, people wanted all the produce along the freeway labeled so drivers would know what they were seeing as they drove past (for miles and miles and miles without gas stations!). Now this could be a story she made up in her head--she can easily do that and believe it is all real--but somewhere around Crow's Landing, CA, the trees ARE labeled: lemons, oranges, tangerines, citrus. Very cool for us non-tree farmers.
  • Heard on the news that Kanye West has a shoe out that cost over $2000. Obviously they are not meant for the everyday people.
  • People with the inability to use the signal to change lanes are just rude. Yeppers...wander over here to this side. Just be a meanderer. 
  • Pup's head popped up as we approached home. She surveyed the streets, sniffing for familiar scents, looking at me with the first look of interest along the way. Then jumped into my lap when we pulled into our driveway and then she squealed and butt-wagged when Doug came out of the house to greet us. I kinda did, too :)
Zoë in Redding, CA, excitedly contemplating the last leg of drive home

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tightly Holding On; Slowly Letting Go

Bette Werkman
My mother turns 90 the end of next month. She started planning her party the first of September. She wants it simple. She has explained that "simple" means no cake. Cake complicates things. With cake you need plates and forks. Simple means cookies. Just buy them at Von's, she says. Keep it simple. Cookies and water. Simple. She wants the invitations to say, "Celebrate a Simple 90th Birthday."

Mom had a stroke a year ago June and lives in a nursing center. She is pretty well helpless to do anything for herself. She can't sit herself up, get out of bed, stand or walk. She has a moderate level of dementia--maybe a four or five on a scale of 10.  She has pretty good cognitive ability but goes off a bit kookoo at times. Like she used to think that a family of four illegals, plus their dog, lived in her bathroom at night or like she believes she had breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and then they grew back.  

First selfie
My sister lives near and tends to the every day things. She takes care of the bills and laundry, making sure she gets the right medication. She makes dental and eye appointments, sets up the transportation and goes there with her. She visits Mom almost every day on her way to work. About once a month, I drive or fly the 1000 miles south. It used to be every three weeks, but now it's every month. I usually stay 5 or so days. I come to see Mom and to give my sister a break. Sis still works; I'm retired. So she's stuck with all the everyday jobs and I can come as the party.

Even though my sister and I text often, keeping me up-to-date, it is difficult to arrive and see the changes in Mom. On a day-to-day schedule, she is losing ground by small increments. But when I see her, it is quite a change. At this time, she is slowing down. She no longer wants to socialize with others (they either sit there drooling or they talk about themselves too much). She no longer wants to leave her room. So she gets up later in the day, sits in her wheelchair for a couple hours, and wants to go back to bed. When she is sitting, she wheels the chair back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. She no longer moves her left arm and holds it tightly against her chest. She says she can not move her left leg and resists movement. Her speech is slow and she dazes off when she talks.

And yet, she can still joke and smile (she says she forgot how to laugh) at my jokes. The smile goes all the way to her eyes. And I hold on to her tightly. Good gawd she can frustrate me, yell at me, ignore me. 

And yet I love her deeply and strongly. I love it when I can get her to stop being cranky and have a good time. I love it when she tells me stories about her childhood, her early marriage. I love it when we talk about my sons and how much they loved spending time with her and Dad, stories of their grandkids' behavior.

I look at her sitting in her chair, now often disengaged and often dazed. Her quality of life is so poor. Not from lack of trying of the staff and nurses at her home. But her world consists of waiting. Waiting for breakfast. Waiting for a shower. Waiting for lunch. Waiting to have someone get her up or take her to the toilet or lie her down for a rest. She sometimes cries that she doesn't want to live the rest of her life like this. Other times she is resigned. She is exactly the person she never wanted to become.

And it is hard to leave for home each time because I don't know to what I will return next month. She is healthy. She is well. She is fragile. She is slowly letting go.

And I so want to hold on tightly while I am slowly trying to let go.

Kaity, GG, me

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

It's About Forgiveness

White tulips: flowers of forgiveness, of purity
 At Weight Watchers meeting last week, we talked about our super powers.  What are our super powers?  Like I'm really strong in humor and compassion and taking responsibility and love and hope.  With these powers, I can start to conquer my world.  But there were some "powers" that I needed working on.  That was our challenge this week: to work on something we need to boost up.  The most important for me at this date is forgiveness.

I've been very angry with my neighbor for quite some time.  I found that she manipulated us, which has cost us thousands of dollars.  I was so angry that I couldn't hold it in.  I vented to Doug and to my friends online and to anyone who wanted to listen to me.  I'd peer over the new fence, wondering what she was doing.  I would fill with this anger just thinking about her.  Fact is, I have never had this kind of anger before in my life.  It's like, you know, being 65 somehow intensified the anger, like now I was just a cranky old lady.  Next thing I know I might be sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair yelling at kids as they pass.  "You young whippersnappers!"  *rocking rocking and waving my cane*  "Yes you!  Stay off my grass!  In fact, stay off my street!  I don't care that you live across from me, Sassy Girl!  Find a new way home!"

Okay, so I realized a few weeks ago I needed to get a handle on my emotions about our neighbor.  I suggested I should talk to the neighbor.  Doug thought that was a bad idea.  I realized that was a bad idea.  I thought about sending her a bill for half the cost of the thing we were manipulated into doing and then realized that would only intensify this raw emotion I was having.  I didn't know how but I knew I needed to get control over my own life in this area.

And along came the Weight Watcher's meeting lesson.  Hmmmmm forgiveness.

The next day, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to a blog entry, entitled Read This if There's Someone You Can't Forgive  This isn't an indepth article about forgiveness and how to achieve it, but it is a thought-provoking writing that gave me some insight into what I wanted, expected, thought I needed to create justice for me.

Author Heidi Priebe wrote that, "Forgiveness isn’t about letting injustice reign. It’s about creating your own justice, your own karma and your own destiny. It’s about getting back onto your feet and deciding that the rest of your life isn’t going to be miserable because of what happened to you."

And in just that second, the whole weight of this anger left me.  I suddenly felt that the world was open again, bright again, fun again.  And my shoulders were no longer up around my ears, my breathing softer.  I realized I no longer cared what she was doing over the fence.  I just didn't care anymore.  I had no anger.  *poof*

 As I think about the Weight Watcher's meeting and my challenge to work on increasing the power of forgiveness, Heidi Priebe's last words in her blog post came to mind.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are giving up all of your power. Forgiveness means you’re finally ready to take it back.
Daffodils: flowers of forgiveness, of renewal, of new life