Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I got nothin'

Ok, I want to get back into the habit of blogging again, but the life of lazy retirement doesn't lend itself to action-filled tales.  Still, I know the only way to gat anything written is just to start writing, then delete the garbage.

So, yesterday my friend Linda came over and we took a walk.  Linda and I have known one another for decades and can say anything to each other - no judgement.  Women need friends like this, because often we need to talk our way to an understanding of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and - if we want to change - how to go about it.  I don't mean that we need someone else to tell us what we're thinking and doing, but rather, we need to hear our own thoughts out loud to know when they're honest.

I'm one of those kids that could always get the right answer. (Would you like the last cookie?  No, thank you.)   It took me a long time to learn that I needed the real answer.  (Would you like the last cookie?  I want all the cookies.  If I make my own, I can have them.)

In college, I filled notebooks with writing down my thoughts.  One thing I found very helpful was going back a couple months later and re-reading them.  Things that had been devastating at the time turned out to be things I couldn't even remember six weeks later.  I learned to put them into perspective and suffered much less devastation.

Also, in retrospect it became clear when I was wallowing in emotion for the glorious drama of it.  I learned to question the peaks and valleys, and moderate the artificial excesses.

The wonderful thing about talking with Linda is that I don't have to wait six weeks to figure out what I WAS doing.  When I talk to her, I can figure out what I AM doing.

Do men need to do this?  I don't know.  I DO know that I was trained from infancy to be, "good," and, "acceptable," and sometimes I still lose track of what's authentic.

Then, what to do about it?  yes, I "should" be kind and patent with this person.  Honestly, I want to grab this person by the throat and scream, "Stop acting like an idiot.  Half of your problems are your own stupid fault!!" Acknowledging both truths to be self-evident, Linda holds fast like a tall mountain peak to help me keep my bearings as I pick my way through the swamp.  Even when I'm up to my ass in alligators, Linda allows me to keep my sense of direction. She is the sounding board that resonates to truth.

Do men need to do this?  Do other women need to do this?  I know that I need to do this.  I need to give the real answers and feelings acknowledgement, or they fester and distort my thoughts and actions.  After 65 years, I have learned that when I bite my nails to the quick, tear at my cuticles, and worry my toenails till they bleed, I need to talk it out.  It's good to have a friend I can talk with.

And it's not all one-sided.  She can be honest with me as well.  Say the shameful things (I want ALL the cookies) without being judged or scolded.  We work from what is, rather than from what "ought to be."  (Sometimes, you don't get all of the cookies.)  We can offer one another new perspectives. (how about raspberries instead of cookies?) or validate each other's truths.  (it sucks when you can't have any of the cookies.)  And sometimes we remind one another of the things we already know.  (When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.)

Yeah, I mixed my metaphors.  Sometimes alligators eat your cookies.  Linda and I always manage to find more cookies.  It was a lovely walk.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The game

On Memorial Day, a bunch of us used to get together and play softball..  Now, re-arrange your mental picture a bit.

 First of all, this is in Portland, Oregon, so you have to realize that the sky is overcast and most of us are wearing sweat pants and rain jackets with hoods. No sun, no babes in shorts or tube tops.

Second, realize that we were mostly nerds - the people picked last for any team sport.  The ones who couldn't run hit, pitch, catch or throw.  The ones who didn't excel in PE. The choir and chess club contingent.

Because of this, third, we changed the rules.

a. You get as many swings as it takes to hit the ball. (We made sure to have at least one person on each team who could actually get the ball across the plate.)

b. If you knock over someone's beer, you're out.

c. If someone is actually lucky enough to actually catch the ball you hit, you gotta give them the out because it's so unlikely to happen.

d. If you insist on keeping score, we send you back to the house for more beer and don't tell you what happened while you were gone.

If my team was not up at bat, I frequently played right field, because there was less dog poo out there,  and less chance of anyone actually hitting things in my direction.

When one team had been up at bat till everyone got a chance to hit, it was then legal to put your beer in the base path where someone could knock it over.  Some of us would save a bottle with just a sip left in the bottom for this very purpose.  There was the drinking' bottle, and the base path bottle.

One year, our raffish crew included an exchange student from HongKong who had never played softball before.  When she hit the ball, she ran left instead of right.  We let her run the bases backward because she was from a different hemisphere.

And then there was the year that Jason brought a gallon cooler full of toxic waste margaritas.  We were never the same again.

But it was good times and Lord we had fun!  Potluck picnic, and back to the house when the rain started, then hours of talk and laughter, and maybe a few games of Botticelli.

Jason's gone now.  Dennis, our best pitcher is gone as well.  He was the one who could, (and would) actually throw the ball at the bat to give the clumsiest of us a chance to actually connect.  And when the ball came dribbling his way, he would dance around top of it to give the runner a chance to make it to first. He was such a kind man!

Oh, the joy and the glory of actually hitting the ball!  The exhilaration of running to first.  The feral cunning of sneaking out and stealing second. (We all looked alike in our sweats and rain jackets.  Just mosey casually . . .)  One young lady who was visually impaired even managed a home-run because left field was smoking dope, then over-threw second base, and the infielder knocked over his own beer and while he was snatching it up, she made it home.  She made a home run!  We all cheered her and all day long she reveled in the glory.

Kids who aren't good at sports will never get better at sports because it's no fun to be the detriment to the team.  Because no one wants you to play, so how are you going to improve? Because it's no fun to do something you aren't good at.  But we figured out how to PLAY the game, and we all had such fun.  Too bad more kids don't get a chance to PLAY the games.  I still can't throw, but I can sometimes catch something tossed in my direction, and if the ball comes straight over the plate and not too fast, I can connect more times than not.  I improved with practice. Everyone can improve with practice.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

May-be I can keep blogging.

I have things to do.  A pieced comforter to finish for a wedding in August. A pieced comforter for Kyle's best friend.  A pieced comforter for Kyle's favorite cousin.  A pair of purple monster-foot slippers for a dear niece-in-law.  Buttons and embellishments to put on a vest I knitted on the trip.  A baby blanket to knit for the gal across the street who is due any day now.  A pair of fingerless gloves to finish, and another pair to knit.  I got two cones of Aunt Lydia's Sugar and cream cotton yarn, knit two cotton baby blankets on the trip, and gave them away as we went.

I walked down to JoAnne's today and bought five yards of micro-fleece to back the quilts, and a pound of purple acrylic yarn for the slippers.  I spent $24 and saved $42.  I love combining sales and coupons!!

I have thank-you letters to write, a story to finish, and the final re-write on a novel.  And I have spent the past two days napping.  The yard is a weed patch.  The next tea needs to be planned.  Laundry and dishes don't do themselves.  And yet, here I sit, feet up and cat on lap.  And another nap attack is climbing up onto my eyelids.  Maybe it's the cool overcast day.  Maybe the cats are covering me with sleepy sand.  Maybe the trip and the flu took more out of me than I thought.  Maybe I'm an indolent slug. Whatever.  I'm reveling in the languor and relaxation.  And as long as I'm still sleeping at night, these extra naps can't be doing me too much harm.

But the problem with being retired is, if there's always time to do it tomorrow, it never gets done.

Soo, where to start?  I know!  I'll make a list of the things I have to do.  Number one.  Make a list . . .

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Canoyonero-2

So we drove to Murray's house where we spent the night.  Patti let me use her bathtub.  Two weeks without a real bath.  It. Was. Bliss!  I soaked and scrubbed and simmered.  I borrowed her shampoo and sudsed my curly locks.  I scoured nooks and crannies.  How can you really clean the soles of your feet when you're standing on them?  Between the toes?  I am not so well balanced.

Kyle's mom, Betty, is 80 years old and not as limber as once she was, but just as determined as she ever was.  With help from the front and help from the back, she made it up the steps and rode with us in the RV as we drove to visit Kyle's Aunt and cousins in Temecula, where we spent a lovely day and a pleasant night.  Then we loaded Betty up again and headed off to Azusa to Brother Dennis and his wife, Yolanda  .More pleasant chatting, then Yolanda and I took Betty to a doctor's appointment, then home.  Bet she was glad to sleep in her own bed again.

Our last day in LA we spent with Kyle's sister and brother-in law in El Segundo - a beautiful little beach town.  The next morning, Kyle rolled out at 3AM to drive us out of LA before the morning rush hour hit.  I stayed in bed.  About 6 AM he stopped for gas, and I got dressed and joined him in the front.  He just got the bit in his teeth and headed for home.

Lake Shasta is a primary water source for LA, but the drought has punished it severely.  That fifty foot pale strip above the water?  That the lake-bed showing.  The fish are learning to walk. It's rather frightening to see how depleted the lake is.

We finally stopped just North of Medford, Or.  Kyle was saying, "It's only another 300 miles to home, but I don't think I can do it."


So we woke bright and early and followed this truck into Eugene where we got excellent tea, coffee, and service by walking up to the window at a drive through coffee shop.

And at last, we made the final push for home,  with a brief stop at the dump site to empty our septic tank.  5 days of dry camping with no sewer-hook-ups.  It was kind of necessary.






And at last we rolled into our own driveway at noon.  The lawn is just about long enough to bale.  The calla lilies are about four feet tall.  The roses have burst into an exuberance of bloom.  The cats were ecstatic to get back to a bed they could hide under. And I got to spend several hours in my very own bathtub.  Life is good.

So, how are you doing?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Canyonero

I didn't want to make a public announcement that we were going to be out of the house for three weeks, but now that we're back, I can tell you all about it.

May 5, load the RV.  Clothes, food, books, yarn, kitty litter.

May 6, 7am, grab cats and go!  Portland to Dunnigan, California rest stop on the first day.  Kyle has the instincts of a long-haul trucker.  We stopped twice for gas, and just kept rolling.  I watched the trees got from Big-Leaf Maples, to oaks, to Ponderosa Pine, to Juniper as the road went higher and drier.  May is the green time- the one soft month when things in California go from sere to verdant.  Even the tumbleweeds were green.  Then we settled into the dust bowl that the Northern San Joaquin Valley has become.  The rest stop had thirsty eucalyptus trees and no grass.  Next month, the trees will start following the dogs around and begging for some water.










May 7 We stopped for gas in Bakersfield.  Kyle decided to skip the whole LA traffic thing and we headed East to Laughlin, Nevada. We drove past the north end of Joshua Tree Monument desert.  Joshua trees look like clusters of feather dusters designed by Maraat de Sade. All of Eastern California is a stinking desert.  More or less sagebrush and cactus but no where green and pleasant.
 The Riverside Casino in Laughlin has a decent RV park with water, sewer and electric hook-ups for $27 a night. Bare gravel and a few suffering palms.  And if you get a chance to eat at the Casino buffet, pass.  Way too expensive, and really second rate food.

May 8, we crossed the river into Arizona and drove uphill.   In Selig, Arizona, I got my kicks on Route 66.
 We continued uphill.  Scenery got rougher and more picturesque.  Notice total lack of trees.
 And then, it started to snow.  In Arizona.  In May.  It snowed.  The roads were slush tracks.  Kyle just kept on driving and being safe.  I kept my eyes on my knitting!  We got to Flagstaff and took a right towards Phoenix.
 We passed three wrecks with police and ambulances attending, before we descended below the freezing zone.  Stopped for the night at a wonderful rest stop (free, no hook-ups, right next to the freeway, but sparkling clean restrooms, and breath-taking views.  It's the Sunset Point Rest Stop on Highway 71 if you get north of Phoenix.

May 9 we continued down to Chandler, Arizona, just south of Phoenix where our great-nephew was marrying his beloved in her grandpa's backyard.  Grandpa let us plug in to his electric system so we could keep the AC running for the kitties.

I made the kids a quilt.  Guests signed the light-colored squares with indelible pens.

 The bride had gussied up the shed between the goat pen and the alpaca pen.  Darn clever and very pretty, I thought.  The wedding was, "country" themed and just charming.  Grandpa's backyard is about three acres with lemon and grapefruit trees, blackberries, a peach tree, fig trees, and a huge vegetable garden.  Kids ran loose and happy, and most of the female relatives, myself included, pitched in to help with the decoration and set-up.  then the groom, his brothers, and his buddies went out for the bachelor party.

May 10 - the big day

 Fancy footwear for a country wedding.

 The groom with bride on his right, and her best friend on the left.  Yes, the groom IS that tall. 6'7" I think.  His brother is 7' tall.  The brother, a groomsman, was sipping on a long-neck beer while standing up front during the ceremony.  Very country.  And all the boys wore their hats, too.


Then w had the barbecue.  Ribs and pulled pork, and chicken.  Green bean cooked with bacon, hash-brown potatoes cooked with cheese, and a fresh-fruit salad to die for!  OMG it was good!

We headed to bed about 8:30 and enjoyed the sound of revelry till we fell asleep.



May 11:  We hit the road at 6:30 to avoid the rush-hour traffic, and made our way to Meteor Crater, AZ.  It's really neat!  It's an honest to goodness meteor crater that is well-preserved because there's not much in the way of rain and plant-growth to obscure it.  There's a big chunk of the meteor, mostly  iron, that has been mounted in one of the display rooms where people can touch it.  It's been polished shiny by all the reverent hands.  I actually touched something not of this earth!!

The RV park at Meteor Crater is a prize.  Full hookups, a gracious re.room, a laundry room with all machines working, and the showers are spa-like - each in a separate room with sink and toilet, comfortable changing space, and quantities of hot water.  It was GLORIOUS!

That night I came down with a stomach bug which entailed high-velocity evacuation of the entire digestive tract from both ends simultaneously followed by fever and body aches for about 36 hours.

But, we had reservations in the RV park at the grand canyon.  So, May 12, we headed out.  I mostly lay in bed and whimpered, while Kyle drove.

We stopped for gas in Flagstaff, where it was snowing again.  Kyle had a hunch to check the tires, and found that the two inside rear tires were showing their steel belts.  So we bought two new tires in Flagstaff, then carried on to the Grand Canyon.  You have to climb more in elevation to get to the big hole.  8700 feet I think.  We pulled into the RV lot, watched the elk mooching casually through, and went to bed for the night.

May 13, I was strong enough to get up and see a few sights. Still, the thought of food, or water even, set my aching guts to heavin' so I was a mite weak and shakey on my pins.  But, by God, I am 65 years old and it's my chance to see the Grand Canyon, so we made our way to the shuttle-bus stop and headed out.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was surprised at the numbers of foreign visitors.  There were people from Korea, Hungary, the UK, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Germany, Italy and South Africa.  And that was just on our bus.

And the canyon does not disappoint.  You've seen the pictures, but when you actually stand there and throw your heart into the abyss, it hits home.  No two-dimensional representation is going to give you the three-dimensional sense of vastness.  If it were named today it would be the Omigawdit'ssofuckingimmenseyouwon'tbelieveit! Canyon.  I'm SO glad I got out and saw it in the sunshine.



Since I felt weak, we made it a short day and went back to the RV to rest.  That night, the bug look Kyle.  He spent the entire next day in bed while I stopped at the visitor's center for more information about the geology, and to get my Junior Ranger book.  While I was there, the clouds clabbered up, lightning flashed, thunder roared, and two inches of hail fell in five minutes.  In May.  In Arizona.  I took the shuttle bus to the geology museum and sat for about an hour watching the weather sweep through the canyon.  Veils of hail would whiten the windows, then sweep away to be followed by a break in the clouds spilling brilliant sunlight over the dripping landscape, then black clouds would roll up again.  It was fascinating, awe-inspiring, stunningly beautiful, but I got cold, so I shuttled back to the RV and spent our final afternoon and evening sipping hot tea and worrying about what I would do if Kyle couldn't drive the next day.  The park was completely full every night.  The campgrounds were completely full as well, and Lord, I felt sorry for those poor souls in tents while the wind, rain and hail tried to sweep them away.

May 14, Kyle the Intrepid was able to pull us out and down that long, long highway to Laughlin again.  Bless his dear heart!!

May 15 we headed south through the deserts of California to Kyle's cousin's home above Palm Springs.  When they do desert around there, they do a good job of it.  Nothing grows taller than knee high, and it's all spiteful.  The mountains are piles of bare rocks.  between the mountains, it's miles and miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles and miles.  And out here where you can see anything more than three feet tall from fifteen miles away, they have a stop sign.  I think the guys in the California department of transportation had one of those dopey days, and someone said, "Hey, I know what let's do!  Let's put a stop sign out in the middle of no-freaking-where.  And we can have a camera to catch people when they stop at it."  I can hear them now, "Hey George - we got another one!!"

The two lane road to Kyle's cousin's house goes up a long hill, with about nineteen hairpin turns, and no guard rails.  My ears popped at least three times which means about four thousand feet in elevation.  It was a religious experience.  On some of those turns, when there's a bicyclist in your lane, and a panel van coming down hill at you, you will see God!

The house was awesome, the view breath-taking, Kyle's mom was there to ride down with us  the next day, and he and I were two whupped puppies.  More report tomorrow.




Saturday, January 10, 2015

January tea

 Second Saturday of the month - it's time for another tea party.  This is such a joy for me.  I love using my nice china, and linens.  I love baking ladylike dainties.  Setting a pretty table and keeping the cups filled, listening to the music of all these happy, intelligent, talented, warm-hearted women enjoying one another fills me with such joy. Cleaning up afterwards, sending leftovers home to the kids and husbands, washing and drying cups and saucers, matching them up and putting them away - it's a kind of a prayer for me.  It's thanks and worship and praise all in one.
I love matching eccentric cups, plates napkins and glasses together.  And tea-cozies?  I have two baskets full of tea-cozies.   And more planned. Sewn and knitted tea-cozies are wonderful!


And oh how I love my hand-painted china!

 Linda and Linda wound up sitting together, both wearing purple tops with green collars.


The theme for today's tea was citrus.  A lemon-yellow tablecloth with lime,lemon, and tangerine napkins.  Lemon blossom cupcakes, coconut macaroons with lime glaze, chocolate thumbprint cookies with orange marmalade, and roast chicken wings with pineapple glaze.  Beth brought orange soda bread with clove/honey/butter.  We drank English Breakfast tea, and coffee; limeade and cranberry/apple juice.





There were 13 of us, and I could still get around the table with the teapot!  I love having the table in the big room and the tv in the smaller room.  With the second table set up at the end, I can seat as many as 16.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Chinese Garden

Right now, the Chinese Garden is asking a donation of non-perishable food for the local food bank, in lieu of admission.  So Maggie came by and swept me away.



We walked in just as a tour was starting, so we trailed along behind the docent who was fascinating.  Every docent has his or her own particular focus on the garden.  This one kept pointing out the yin and yang: underfoot were designs set with smooth stones and rough stones, straight lines and curves, light stones and dark stones.  The garden juxtaposes live plants with smooth walls; trees with stones, still water with a waterfall; low grasses and tall bamboos; natural with manmade.


One of the joys of the garden is the fact that, although it is in the middle of downtown, it is a serene, enclosed place of peace.  You can see office buildings looming around above the walls.  You can hear the police sirens, and the the rumble of busses, but centered peace just oozes from the very walls and brings your focus to a zen-like tranquility.
In spite of the wintery weather, there were plants in bloom.  Wintersweet and edgeworthia perfumed the air as did winter jasmine.  And the early-blooming camellias  brought in luscious touches of color and velvety texture.     
                             

The docent was fascinating, but after a while, it got too cold to just stand around listening, so we ditched the tour and went to the tea house for a warm-up.  Maggie had Jasmine pearls, and I had strong fire tea. (Yum.  Rich, dark,oolong with almost a nutty flavor.) and we shared a moon cake.  There was a gentleman playing a stringed instrument with a bow downstairs.  It was lovely.  Either I am developing an ear for Chinese music, or it was music particularly suited to Westerners, because I enjoyed every note and interval.  We made our way upstairs and managed to score a seat by a south window.  The clouds thinned as we sat there, sipping, nibbling, enjoying the peace, and some weak January sunshine filtered through to kiss our cheeks.    One of those transcendent still spots in life when the wonder of reality parts the veils and kicks your butt with awareness.  My mind is too tiny to hold it all, or even a part of it all, for long, but I do appreciate it when it hits.