Sunday, May 29, 2016

Quilts of Valor: A Way to Say Thank You

I have not been sewing as much this trip south, but I have finished a few quilt tops and quilted a few tops with fleece backing.  A majority of my sewing time has been creating a Quilt of Valor top.  When quilted, it will be given to a veteran in order to say welcome home, soldier and thank you for your service.  This particular pattern was created by Le Ann Weaver of Persimmon Quilting.  Le Ann has many designs for Quilts of Valor.  I chose this one because I have a love affair with Flying Geese blocks :)

The Quilts of Valor Foundation began in 2003 with a dream.  The founder, Catherine Roberts’, son Nat was deployed in Iraq and she had this dream:
The dream was as vivid as real life. I saw a young man sitting on the side of his bed in the middle of the night, hunched over. The permeating feeling was one of utter despair. I could see his war demons clustered around, dragging him down into an emotional gutter. Then, as if viewing a movie, I saw him in the next scene wrapped in a quilt. His whole demeanor changed from one of despair to one of hope and well being. The quilt had made this dramatic change. The message of my dream was:
Quilts = Healing
According to their website, the mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I want to say thank you to all of you who have served our country as we honor those in remembrance.  You have touched us all.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

More High Drama in Apartment Living

Yesterday Zoë got a couple of boosters so we could send her to doggy jail while we visit Catalina Island.  Poor thang just got sick...lethargic and hardly moving, tail hanging down and head scooting along the floor.  The head thing wasn't that big a stretch as she is pretty close to the ground already.  She is much better today.  Still feeling punky but better.  Poor lil thang.

With living for six weeks at a time in an apartment, I have been learning some of the joys. Someone new moved in down the way and now I find dog pooh in the grass.  Oh yeah Zoë is interested, trying to learn who is around.  She's happy to do pee-overs on those spots, but the pooh is a problem.  Oh not for her but for me.  Kids play in the grassy areas.  I walk there with my pup at night before we go to bed. Who does that??  What type of people don't clean up after their dogs?

I think of all the things about apartment living, it is the noise that is the hardest for me.  Not just living noises--people come and go and are generally considerate of others in different times of the day.  I am talking about the loud-talking and drama that happens after I go to bed.  

I have a new upstairs neighbor.  She lives next door to my friend who has a problem with alcohol (he has been clean and sober now for over three months, has a great job in a vet's office, and is happy again) and directly overhead of me.  I expected creaks and groans, living noises.  What I didn't expect was to listen to her phone conversations like she was sitting in my living area.  She is a loud-talker.  I can turn up my music in the daytime to drown her out but can't at 3 a.m.  I can tune out her friends visiting, but not at 2 a.m. as they stand outside my window talking and laughing as they stall their goodbyes.  See, she has this habit of allowing her friends to park in her parking space and then she parks along the side of the apartments in the red-zone.  Then when they leave, she returns her car to her spot.  Hours the car is there and no one in management notices because all is back to normal by morning.  But last night was different...

Last night she got caught.  I heard loud crashes around 9:30-10:30.  I heard her screaming and cursing at someone, with a male voice answering.  I heard things moving upstairs overhead.  More screaming and cursing.  I ignored it...just life and shaking my head...until I couldn't any longer.  I peeked out the window.  Tow truck, towing off her illegally parked car.  She was livid.  "I was just here for only a minute as I was unloading my groceries!  This is BS!  I will call the police!"  The tow company said to go ahead and call the police.  She did, screaming into the phone how it was all BS.  The car was just there for a minute as she unloaded her groceries.

Of course I looked and of course a truck was parked in her space, a space that is directly behind her stairs, a space that is about 10 steps from those stairs.  Of course she had to unload the groceries there because there was a big truck in her space!  The fact that both the car and the truck had been in their respective spots for at least an hour...well can't help her there.  Maybe she had a ton of groceries to unload.

I did turn on my ocean sounds machine and the pup and I settled down for the night.  Poor lil Zoë slept under the bed most the night and never barked.  I don't know how the story ended because I fell asleep. Damn!  But whatever happened between 11 pm and 7 am, her car was parked in her space and there was no big truck anywhere.

Did it really happen or did I just dream it all?  LOL

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I've Got Those Ol' High School Blues

“And it occurred to me; I was not part of the action. Oh God, I thought, I'm not an anthropologist. I'm the lonely voice-over narrator of adolescence. The bitter, voice-over voice.”  
― Joanna Pearson, The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills 

My high school days were long long ago in a galaxy far far away.  I moved away to Southern Oregon not long after my 19th birthday and have lived in Oregon for the past 46 years.  Not much to remind me of my high school days up north.  

I spend more time thinking of those old glory days when I am in Southern California visiting my mom.  And of course...the old neighborhoods--oh look!  I remember when that was just a road through vineyards, the old high school friends with whom I meet up--wow it will be so great to reconnect!, the 60s music on my car radio--C'mon Baby Light My Fire, on my iPod--He Ain't Heavy; He's My Brother.  Most everything surrounding me down south brings back emotions and flashes of memory.

I just wanted to fit in somehow.  We lived down in the boonies rather than in the thick of the school kids.  My friends from elementary and junior high didn't go to early school with the bulk of the school kids at the high school.  More than three-quarters of the kids in my junior high went to a different high school.  So fitting in meant changing groups, learning the "rules," and meeting new people.  For a shy child throughout my life until mid-eighth grade, this wasn't perfect but doable.  I worked at it :)

By my junior year I had learned the ropes.  I started dating a football player.  My friends were the leaders of the class, of the school.  But I was rather unique in that I also had groups of friends in multiple cliques--geeks and freaks and groups of multi-ethnicity.

Senior year things changed.  I changed as I began to come into myself.  I started dating a Marine who then went overseas.  I started protesting the war in Vietnam (while still supporting my fella over there).  I pulled away from the leaders of the school and hung more with fringe groups.  The stoners, the nerds, former leader-group people who had also pulled away.  I was 17 and naively felt I knew a huge bunch of stuff about life.

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is.” ― Jim Morrison

And looking back now with the wisdom and privilege of age, I realize I was not unique in my emotions and desire to fit in somewhere.  The path of my journey was unique but the raft on which I rode was so very much like most teens' rafts.  We want to be accepted, validated.  We want to be loved.  We want good, real friends, friends we can rely on when needed. We are all just looking at how we fit into the world.

And at 65, I realize our goals are still relatively the same.  Hopefully we have some life-time friends...but we still want acceptance, want love, reliable friends.  And how we fit into the world constantly changes as we move through that world.

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” ― George Eliot 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What She Needs is a Good Listening To

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

We are talkers.  It is hard to sit and listen to people when we want to be the talker.  Remember when we were back in school?  The teacher would ask a question and we'd raise our hand, wave our hand, hold our hand up with our other hand.  Say, "Oh!  Oh!  Pick me!  Pick me!" and hope against hope we get to talk.

In Portland and other cities around the country, a group of people have been improving on the art of listening. They set up some chairs on a corner and invite people to come sit and talk to them.  And they listen.  They don't give advice, engage in chat, talk.  They simply listen.  

The organization is called Sidewalk Talk.  Their mission is simple: That in every major city in the US, once a week there would be listeners listening somewhere in that city. That is the long term dream. And the even longer term dream is that by listening to stories we heal that which divides our communities.

In Portland on May 9, listening volunteers set up chairs in Lownsdale Square.  This park is located between the courthouse and the jail, making it a great spot for people to stop and talk.  With the weather cooperating, volunteers stood besides their chairs and asked pedestrians if they would like to talk.

In reading about this organization, there are volunteers who have regular spots in their city and people come to rely on the volunteers to be there to listen.  From their website:

For example, Traci Ruble, who is one of the co- creators of Sidewalk Talk is listening the second Wednesday of every month at Church & Market in San Fran from 11:30 - 1:30. When you start informing the public you will be there at a set time, folks will come back.
And so the listening has begun in Portland.  About time, eh?


Saturday, May 07, 2016

A Normal Heart

Gary was one of my best friends.  Our parents met at the YMCA back in the early 50s and would get together on a Sunday evening to play cards.  Gary and Scott were my sister's and my ages, so we would play together.  When it would be bedtime, my sister and I would be put to bed in the parents' room, soon to be carry-walked out to the car when it was time to go home.  Dad would run the car long enough to warm it up.

As we grew older, Gary and I would hang out together.  Gary could name the year and model of any car he saw.  He was a personable multi-freckled carrot-top, outgoing and ready for adventure. When he got a car--a big boat of a Chevy--we would cruise around Los Angeles.  We would cruise along Mulholland Drive along the Hollywood Hills.  We'd cruise along Sunset Blvd.  One of the most fun thing we would do is drive along the hills, passing the gated houses.  When another car would come along, we'd turn into a driveway like we lived there.  Yeah bet no one else thought of that one ;)

We supported one another like no one else has.  For example, I went out with a friend of his in my senior year.  When I wouldn't sleep with the guy, he spread a vicious rumor, telling Gary that I was pregnant.  Gary immediately offered to marry me.  It was the sweetest thing :)

When I got my first apartment, Gary was a constant visitor.  We'd sit up--the 22 stairs--in my little place, waxing philosophy, playing records, protesting the war, and generally just being 18 year old kids.  He worked at the Jack-in-a-Box on the corner of Arrow and Towne...or was it Garey...doesn't matter now because it isn't there anymore.  At that time, there was no inside seating at Jack-in-the-Boxes; they were only drive-through.  So I'd play carhop between the customer window and the car.  There might have been maybe a foot space, but the hamburger-hungry would play along, even giving me a tip on occasion.

Gary was my elder son's godfather.  
Gary was part of my family.

Gary came out to me when I was a senior, him a junior. This was in the late 60s, a time when being gay meant you were sick.  His parents sent him to a psychiatrist in order to turn him around.  He was just confused, right?  Well-over a long year or two of therapy...a long year or two of unhappy young man who couldn't just be who he was.  Ashamed and tortured, Gary took his life at age 19. 

Some days I miss him as much as I did when he died in 1970.  Something will trigger a memory, especially when I am down in Southern California, and there we would be, laughing at something ridiculously stupid.  There we'd be, sitting in a little teen club, listening to the Turtles play their delightful music, or just having long deep discussions.

Gary wasn't sick, depraved, wicked.  He was just a wonderful young man with a broad open face full of freckles and mischief, a young man with a normal heart, living, loving, being.  I wish we could have just let him.


Thursday, May 05, 2016

She Has That Sweet Blood

At a rest stop along Oregon I-5, somewhere between Eugene and Roseburg, Zoë and I took a short break.  We have a pattern at rest stops.  I open the sunroof for air (the screen gives protection from the sun), remind Zoë that I'll be a moment and then I will come get her.  I then rush off to the facilities, return to the car, and take her out for a little walk.  She always pops her head up to watch me over the carbed edge as we go through this process.  After a little walk-about, she gets back into the car and we take off.  No reason to dawdle along the way.  We can stretch and walk it off before we get back in and go.

So the same routine happened at this rest stop.  I pulled into a parking slot, reminded Zoë of our deal, rushed over to the bathrooms, returned and took the pup for her walk.  This stop had a rather barren Pet Area. It was set among the trees, but there was no grass; just sawdust and weeds. It had the required wood hydrant and a sign that held baggies, if needed. Now, Zoë is truly a dog, even if there are times she would love to be a cat.  And as a dog, she needs to find just the exact right spot to pee.  She has to see if any of her buddies have been there and, if not, who has come along.  Meanwhile, I find myself swatting at bugs.  I finally looked at one.  A mosquito.  Lots of mosquitoes.

As we are walking back to the car, I mindlessly scratch as my neck...the other shoulder.  Good heavens I was nipped at all over.

My dad and grandfather build the house in which my sister and I grew up.  
They built it back from the road so it had a long driveway and deep front yard.  It was sitting on a quarter acre, so the back of the lot was plenty large, also.  All that grass in the front made it great for playing games, kicking high on the swing set (my father also built), and in summer sleeping outside on cots.  Oh that was the best!  Sometimes it would be my sister and me.  Sometimes it would be friends, neighbors, cousins.  Sleeping outside was the best.

The washing machine dumped it's water down a trench along the side of the house, to disperse the water out into the yard.  There was a hedge that hid the trench.  It was often wet-ish from the laundry and that made the hedge and trench a haven for a mosquito village.  So every morning we woke up after sleeping outside, some of us would be nicely bitten all over our faces and arms.  And we had to count them.  "I have 15 bites!"  "Ha! I have 19!"  "I only have five."  "I won!  I have 28 bites!"  I usually won.

"One in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes," reports Jerry Butler, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Florida. (WebMD)  They used to say I had "that sweet blood" and I thought that made me somehow special.  Now I know that it isn't blood itself that attracts mosquitoes.  It's largely about genetics, but in addition there are other things.  Cholesterol on the skin, carbon dioxide, other things like that to attracts the great sniffers of the mosquitoes.  My younger son has my same sweet blood.  We would probably tie in a bite-counting contest.

As I continue to mindlessly scratch my bites, I still like to think that I'm somehow special with that sweet blood.  I mean, if I have to scratch and be annoyed, I might as well be special because of it, right?  *SLAP*  Missed.  Damn.


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Back On The Street Again

Photo by Little Mountain 5
I have driven from Portland, Oregon to Pomona, California so many times over the past 45 years that I believe I could do it with eyes closed.  I could safely try it along that long boring straight stretch between Sacramento and Stockton but the best stretch is in central California along the California Aqueduct.  I mean, there's just this aqueduct on one side and these rolling hills along the other.  Not that different than driving I-70 through Kansas....  Cornfields on one side and oh! yeah! Cornfields on the other! I think this just might work and could spice up the drive.

One of the joys of driving south along I-5 is seeing the different glacier-topped and snow-capped mountains along the way.  One of the most spectacular views is Mount Shasta.  It simply sits there, waiting to be discovered, waiting for the drivers to have that sudden intake of breath in awe.  It's on the left of the it's on the right!  No, you were correct the first time.  It's so close you feel you can reach out and touch it as you drive.

Don't we look gorgeous on our new bed?
The roadtrip is usually uneventful, and this drive was no exception.  All my drama happened before I left. It started with our new bed.  It is a gorgeous glorious new bed.  Because my fella has snoring issues--perhaps sleep apnea--and I have fibromyalgia and neuropathy pain in my feet (no reason, just one of the lucky ones), our sleeping needs are different.  So we decided to get a Tempur-Pedic adjustable bed.  As we switched it out for a water-tube bed, the salesperson said it will take a bit of getting used to.  The first couple of nights we both woke up often and played with the adjustments throughout the night.  In the morning, my right hip was sore from finding the worst possible positions I could find.  By Wednesday, I was having trouble walking.  My chiroguy adjusted me and it seemed to be getting better.  But sometime in the middle of the night on Thursday, I got up and heard this crrrrrraaaccccccccck and suddenly I could hardly breathe, let alone stand or walk.  Emergency chiroguy visit.  I had dislocated my hip.  He put it back in place and told me to use heat.  Yay!

I was leaving the next day--on Saturday--and spending the night in Sacramento, as usual.  That meant an early start Saturday morning.  Most everything was packed and the car itself was ready.  I had found the sweet spot for sleeping on the new bed and, except the pain in the hip, was doing fine.

Meanwhile, I had had a root canal Thursday morning.  No problems at all with pain.  I had an appointment for the permanent filling (it was through a crown) to be placed when I came home in June. As I went to bed Friday night, I noticed the temporary filling was gone.  I just had this hole in the top of my molar.  Yay!  Emergency dental visit Saturday morning.  And since there were no open slots, I simply had to sit in the office and wait for a doctor to slide me in.  Could be hours.  Might not leave Saturday.  But wait! I figured if I was home and ready to leave by noon, I could stay in Redding for the night rather than Sacramento and still get to Los Angeles on Sunday (a much preferable day to drive through the area at rush hour).  And it worked out! New temp filling in place, home in time, finish packing the car and heading south right at noon!  Dog was resigned that she was in the car as she lay in her little car bed.  No puking, just reproach in her glances.

Yeah, the fun just never stops.

About around Grants Pass, I realized I had left all meds at home.  Doug packaged them up and dropped them in a mailbox.  Yay!  I should receive them Tuesday.

Photo by Tom Stienstra, April 2016
I was so happy to find that Lake Shasta is up to nearly normal levels.  Such a blessing after being nearly dry the summer and fall before.  The sight was glorious as I drove around the lake and into Redding. 

Somewhere around Stockton, I realized I had left the charger chords for iPhone, iPad, and NOOK at home.  Doug had them ready to mail but we thought we could just buy new ones down here.

I arrived at my apartment feeling fine.  Went out to dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and then decided I needed some groceries and those charger chords.  I tried...but the pain in my hip made it too hard to think and to walk, so I gave it up and went home.  Besides, all the chords I needed would cost over $40; mailing cost would be maybe $8.  Doug dropped the chords in the mailbox.  And the next day I bought a cane to help me walk.

Mom is doing as fine as she can do.  So happy to see me.  Pushing her around in her wheelchair is like having a big walker for me, so we can still go outside and around for a little walk.

And so life is good.  Except for Zoë, who is afraid of the cane.  I have to hide it behind the couch when we are in the apartment or else she stays under the bed.  

The adventures just keep coming!  Meds and chords won't actually get here until maybe Friday.  Glad we paid for express mailing so they would cost more to arrive later than regular mail...  My bad.  I figured dropping the paid boxes in the local mailbox would be just peachy.  Charging phone in the car when I can.  iPad dead.  Finished the book I was reading before the NOOK died.  Have to actually turn real pages to read the next book.  What sacrifice.