I was getting really tired of letters-to-the-editor about the "evils of socialism," hence I struck back today. Granted, I'm a true socialist at heart...
We recently had a test hole dug for a new septic drain field in our front yard. "Shouldn't be any problem," the contractor told us, "your dirt looks good."
Several hours later, though, there was an unexpected commotion, heralded by a murder of loud crows.
Then a specter began to emerge from the hole in broad daylight!
Was there an old burial ground the real estate agent failed to mention all those years ago? "How many more are down there?" we wondered.
Wayne began shoveling dirt back into the hole in a frantic attempt to keep the revenant from escaping...
...in the end, he was forced to drop his shovel and flee the scene as the creature climbed out of the hole.
We're seriously on lockdown now, with the doors and windows bolted.
Stay-at-home orders being what they are, I’ve made my very first tree-felling video! I’ve been cutting firewood on our property since 2006, when I changed out the old propane heater for a wood stove. Sure, I had back-up electric heat, but what fun is that? A wood stove is like having a warm companion during the winters, and it doesn’t ditch you when the electricity goes out. Besides, getting rid of as much combustible fallen wood in our forest makes us a little less vulnerable during wildfire season.
Ever the tomboy, I bought a chain saw. Early on, I’d had a few trees removed by professional arborists and observed their cutting techniques. I viewed how-to chain sawing videos on YouTube, plus I watched the guy in the mall who made those wooden bears.
By the time Wayne moved up here I was fairly well-versed in operating a chain saw. He’s shown little interest in learning this art which is perfectly fine with me. His many skills lie elsewhere, plus he's much safer this way.
Hence, I’ve zip-tied my smartphone to a hiking pole so as not to involve him in photographing me while a tree is falling. Made the logos come out backwards, but I'm still working on that.
So here’s my two cents’ worth of stay-at-home activities!
The bunnies at Dreamland Party Pals recommend that you stay home and eat plenty of chocolate!
I’m at it again!My recent Letter to the Editor:
A difficult task
As a recovering New Yorker, I found a recent letter writer’s suggestion to have a “positive thought about Trump” difficult at best. The man was practicing unscrupulous business dealings as far back as the 1970s, with the simple objective to line his own pockets. Listing them all here would quickly exceed the 200-word limit, although I would like to point out that among other failed ventures, he lost his long-struggling Atlantic City casino in 2014. A casino! Who bankrupts their own casino? But let’s fast forward.
In 2018, the Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team to cut costs.
Throughout February 2020 he continued to insist that COVID-19 was a “Democratic hoax,” leaving us ill-prepared for the crisis we now face.
He’s spread false rumors regarding vaccine availability, lashed out at reporters who ask for encouraging words for a frightened country, and claimed that he “knew about the virus a long time ago.”
Still in denial? These statements occurred live, in recent press briefings.
Enabling this kind of behavior is irresponsible and dangerous.
And yet, albeit somewhat indirect, there is one “positive thought” that comes to mind, reminiscent of a TV clown from my childhood: Bozo.
(April 3, 2020)
These, the weirdest times yet in my life, remind me of being swallowed by a giant breaker at Jones Beach as a child, tumbled for what seemed like an eternity, then spat out onto the shore, only to look up through scraggly strands of sand-laced hair and see people standing ankle-deep in the water, staring out at the sea, hardly noticing me because their attention is directed elsewhere.
I can’t seem to reconcile the image of a president who wears make-up with the leader of the free world. We find his wild lies and daily self-contradictions mind-blowing, and he looks like a pathetic clown. His supporters remain fully dug-in, as if under some kind of spell, unreachable by any apparent sense of logic or dignity. Staring out to sea.
“Oh well, civilizations come and go,” I tell myself. Maybe it’s time to hit the reset button on ours.
Need further proof?
Our beloved Possum, Ranch Boss, went over the Rainbow Bridge on Sunday, December 8. He was 11¾ years old. Of all the cats I’ve had, he was the sweetest. I can’t remember ever hearing him hiss, although in retrospect, I think he hissed at me once when I tried to give him a pill.
I adopted him and his brother Sparky from SoHumane in 2008. I'd always wanted to adopt a pair of siblings, and I could hold one of them in each hand. When I brought them home and opened the cardboard box they both leapt out like circus performers, playing, attacking and chasing each other around the house. During that first summer, I often felt as if I were in the middle of a bar fight.
Possum had a fascination with licking things. Many a morning I would wake to find that my hair had been licked into bizarre shapes, as if the little guy had spent the entire night on my head, creating the perfect “Possum-do.”
Once our older cat Sofie trained the little brothers in the ways of the outdoors and they outgrew her, Possum, due to his large, bulldog-like stance, was elevated to the position of Ranch Boss. He took his job very seriously, and directed the effort of keeping the gophers at bay. Each evening he made his rounds, checking the property, before settling in for the night.
I’d often find him on the bed in a deep trance, kneading on the bedspread. We tried to discourage this habit, which he practiced on us quite liberally, but to no avail. When it developed into accompanying drooling, licking and kneading-with-claws, I’d have to nudge him away.
“But I love you!” he seemed to say, with an air of disappointment. He’d usually come back in less than a minute, hoping to "love on me" again.
“Not everyone wants to be licked,” I’d remind him. I knew there would come a time when I’d regret pushing him to the end of the bed so I could get some sleep on dry sheets.
A few months before his passing he began cuddling next to me on the couch, placing a paw on my arm and gazing at me tenderly, almost as if he knew his time was coming.
Yes, he was a bit cross-eyed and loved to lick us, but he was our groovy, laid-back, mellow, loving Possum. I miss him every day.
I’ve always been a huge fan of anthropomorphism. Ever since I was a child I fantasized about animals doing people things. I was fascinated by the works of Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, Max and Dave Fleischer, and Harmon and Ising. And, of course, the Walt Disney studio. I spent many classes at school daydreaming about animals performing musical numbers and tiny operettas. When my family would go out to dinner I would often imagine our dog and cat seated in a booth around the corner dressed as humans, quietly snickering at their great fortune in convincing the wait staff they were humans enjoying a meal out…so I’m ever grateful that I managed to finish school, despite my clandestine fantasies.
Fast forward to college in the Northeast, where my professors often complained that my work was “too cartoony.” After graduating, I tacitly excused myself from the east coast and left for San Francisco. I spent hours at animation festivals, sometimes sitting through two showings. I studied animation at San Francisco State and created several short films on my own. But I was also getting spirited away by electronic music and playing in new wave bands. Yet, I continued to imagine animals dancing in a corner of whatever nightclub I happened to be playing in, dressed in contemporary fashion.
Fast forward again: I had a fairly okay run making and showing (cartoony!) animal clocks at higher-end craft fairs. Then I began making dolls with papier-mâché heads. I was living about 30 miles north of Novato, California, the site of the Black Point Renaissance Pleasure Faire. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” I thought, “if I could make dolls dressed in Tudor fashions and sell them there?” I borrowed books from the library on Elizabethan costumes, and sent away for an application to the Renaissance Faire. Remember, back then the internet was still in its infancy, so you had to do everything by mail! I created a menagerie of characters such as The Squirrel of Leicester, Kitty Wenchkin, Friar Duck, and St. George, the Dragon. My mom, who was well aware and supportive of my anthropomorphic tendencies, pitched in and bought me a new sewing machine. The deadline for applying to the Faire was fast approaching, so I photographed my characters, had them developed at a one-hour place and sent in my application, along with a few sample dolls.
A few weeks later I received an invitation to join the Renaissance Faire! Even though a claw had fallen off St. George the Dragon revealing a 20th century plastic straw, they were willing to give me a chance. I had a good time working the Faire every weekend, dressed as a French merchant, although I also had a job at a small software company and was captivated by computer graphics. By the end of the Faire I could barely look at burlap anymore, but I made enough money to buy lots of cool Elizabethan merch, and my very first laser printer.
I eventually moved to Mount Shasta, where tragedy prompted me to inherit a small graphic design studio. Still, I couldn’t help imagining our studio cat, Buster, an intrepid street rescue, operating a small lunch cart business in town, later becoming a successful baker due to his excellent kneading skills. Meanwhile, I drew the little cartoon bears on the menus of the then-fledgling Black Bear Diners.
I eventually moved up to Oregon and brought my graphic design studio with me, along with Buster and my other cat, Joey. After Joey went over the Rainbow Bridge, Buster suggested that we change his name to Beasey. He wanted a more “country gentleman” sounding name. Eventually, I got a part time job doing graphics for the Southern Oregon Humane Society aka SoHumane, where I remain to this very day. One Christmas I revived the animal dolls – just cats and dogs with raincoats – for SoHumane’s entry in the Providence Festival of Trees, “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” Christmas tree. A while later I donated two cats and two dogs, dressed in fancy evening attire, for the silent auction at SoHumane’s “A Toast For Tails” fundraiser. This new incarnation, which I refer to as “Gen 3,” had wire skeletons to make them posable, and glass cabochon eyes. As an incognito guest at the affair, I maybe sipped a little too much champagne, quietly terrified that no one would be interested in them. But then, a tiny bidding war erupted! I was thrilled, and it gave me the vote of confidence I felt I needed to go into full production. “Gen-4” was a lengthy R&D period in which I explored more intricate facial features, the fine points of hand and foot construction, and skeletal issues.
Now, without further ado, may I present the “Gen-5” animal dolls in their latest manifestation, Dreamland Party Pals, available on Etsy.com!
You can also see me in a video describing my process, and the materials involved.
Friday evenings from 5:30 pm until dusk this summer, Wayne and I were a fixture at the Talent Evening Market, where I spun the paints and Wayne hung them up to dry.
I built my rig using a plastic tub I bought at Lowe’s, and a modified table fan. I used sparkly metallic paints and offered a choice of black or white cardstock paper. The paint, you see, which I kept in ketchup-type bottles, gets dribbled over the spinning paper creating, well, spun art. My favorite part was watching the focus and concentration of the kids (and adults!) with paint bottles suspended over the tub, and their reactions when the spinner stopped.
People we knew stopped by, and we had a lot of repeat customers. There was only one smoky night, but most of us vendors showed up anyway, and some of us wore masks. There was live music each week (except the smoky one).
Another interesting part was that the artwork wasn't about me – it was about having a good time helping other people make cool-looking pictures.
It was the deal of the ages, as I charged only $1. We didn’t make a whole lot of money, but it was a fun activity on warm Friday nights. We brought a picnic dinner, set up the booth and there was a steady stream of customers. (How to attract customers: attempt to take a break and eat a snack. For best results, may I suggest the delicious Hawaiian Shaved Ice.)
Here are a few that some kids forgot to pick up on their way out. I’ll be holding onto them, should the young artists return next summer to spin again!
In the Medford Mail Tribune Letters to the Editor, Sept. 17:
Happy to agree
Thank you, Carl F. Worden, for your letter of Sept. 8 regarding open carry. I’m so happy we agree on something! Nothing screams “I’m compensating” louder than a guy packing heat in a grocery store or a restaurant. Plus, my dad taught me how to shoot a .22 when I was 10, so not all us liberals want to overturn the 2nd Amendment — it’s the assault rifle thing that’s a bit extreme.
I bet our factions might agree on other things, too. Perhaps we could put our heads together to set term limits for Congress, or work to end their lifetime salaries and Cadillac healthcare once they leave office.
It’s worth a try.
Ever since I could talk, I've used my Mom's colloquialism of "us kids," or in this case, "us liberals." People have corrected me, but like the expression "you guys," I can't seem to shake it. I have, however, stopped calling our refrigerator the "icebox."
This marks the 5-year anniversary of The Great Fall of 2014.
Long story short, today I picked up my newly sharpened chains from Crater Chain Saw (which I refer to as “The Toy Store”) before heading to the gym for a fast and furious workout. ’Nuff said. Physically, I’m over it in a big way.
But karma can be so opportunistic. My accident prompted a much-needed, deep cleanse of things about my life that weren’t really working, although I tried to remain painfully loyal for as long as I could. Do I appreciate it? Sure, I guess. Parts of it were really ugly. Made me feel a bit like Dorothy in Oz while strong opinions, armchair psychology and “You Need Tos” swirled around me like litter on a windy day. I was incapacitated. Wayne was apparently too compromised mentally, to care for me in a way others felt best (even though he cheerfully put on my compression stocking every morning, pushed my then-hefty body up the walkway after doctors’ visits, and assisted with the various contractors). Our kitchen was down to its studs.
“Meh,” I shrugged, attaching insulation in the kitchen from my wheelchair. The paint job I completed from the wheelchair could use a few touch-ups, but it still holds up. I actually had fun doing these things while listening to The Moth Radio Hour and playing movie favorites like Contact and Trading Places. Back then our house was in more trouble than I was. I wouldn’t be deserting it, or my husband.
Sometimes working through tragedy with a headstrong attitude helps, although it may just be a Taurean thing. Or having toughed out many storms on a boat in my youth. Or, if you’re into the Enneagram, a 6 thing. I've dabbled in this art for years and always identified as a 6 (the Loyalist).
Five years later, all things considered, I've decided to shift myself from a 6 with a strong 7 wing to a 7 (enthusiastic, epicurean) with a strong 6 wing. Not sure if this would pass muster in actual Enneagram circles, but hey, it's my life. I can still be loyal on a case-by-case basis, but I’ve got too many fun projects in the works these days to make it a full time thing.
Here's where I expound on whatever I'm passionate about at the time. I welcome your comments, as long as you're not hateful, a terrorist, or attempting to pedal work-at-home offers.