Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day

We here in the U.S. are in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend.   Now, Memorial day  here in the land of the Free marks the official beginning of Summer, and every little kid in the neighborhood has been firing off illegal fireworks all days.  

Memorial Day Weekend (a four-day weekend for most) was originally intended to be a time for family to go and decorate the graves of their kin lost to war, their military dead. Fireworks didn't used to be associated with it, just civic displays of floral arrangements and questionable decorations in the grocery stores, like styrofoam crucifixes dangling from the rafters.  No I am not kidding. 

My family would visit the cenotaph in the entry to Milwaukie City Hall and lay flowers for our honored deceased (there hadn't been enough left of them to fill a grave, is what I was told.) Then we would head straight for the Pioneer cemetery with implements of landscapial dominance held ready, and rip through the place, piling all the waste in an old sheet spread out on the ground to take away, while other families went around and stuck plastic flowers in the ground and then scrammed.

It always made  me sad.  We weren't intrusive or loud.  We would begin at the very back corner and work our way forward.  So very few families would show up.  

The military dead in the pioneer cemetery were marked (for the most part) by cast white metal stars on a stake, and their name, rank and serial number would have been pressed into the center.  This is what the military provided.  Their kin were supposed to swap these out for stones, but very few had the money to do so.  So very many of those graves went untended, the star blackening, lichen growing over the names.  Nobody remembered, or cared - although after the Spanish Influenza epidemic, whole families were wiped out, and so those boys sleeping there had  no living family to care.

If my grandmother was successful in her bullying campaign, our whole extended fucked-up family would show up, uncles, fathers, wives and children, armed and ready to do battle with subsidence, fungus, canary grass and trees.  We owned the key to the caretakers vault, and inside there was multiple implements of garden care.  I always thought it was So Damn Cool that my family were the caretakers of all this history.  

My dad and my uncles and male relatives would hit the military section of the little graveyard; setting the cast metal stars up straight and noting down the names and matching them up to their rightful plot, scubbing the metal with a wire brush and water with Comet mixed in.  

They would set up the old 'Boot Hill' wooden markers left over from the Native and Pioneer conflicts; most of them had fallen over, rotted off at the dirt, and would go back into place another inch deeper into the ground.  They used Casein paint in the old days, which is like flint when it hardens.  You could read the neat names, dates and everything as though they  had been set in a few weeks past, even when they'd been lying face down on the ground.  If they were rotted off as far as the bottommost part of the epitaph the markers would be stacked against the fence, in order, in line with the row where they  belonged.

Nobody came to replace the wood with stone.  The piles grew, year after year, and finally vandals broke in and stole them.

In the 1970's the pioneer graveyard was under siege by the teenagers and  kids who lived in Waverly, just past the entrance to the graveyard, which was our towns bastion of the wealthy, a closed and gated community where all the movers and shakers lived.  I wonder if they knew that their kids were partying in the pioneer cemetery, burning candles, smashing markers with crowbars, levering over the tall granite columns, and stealing the old wooden markers and the military stars.  They would leave sledgehammer marks on the older stone slabs, and broke a few off at the cement base, never to be seen again.  I have wondered to this day what the fuck those kids did with that shit.  

The only thing this kind of destruction betokened was that their parents were wealthy and they didn't have to care.  

Nobody they knew was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.  Their deceased lay in luxury, surrounded by rosebuds and baby's breath in perpetuity at the nearby Sellwood Mortuary, a beautifully landscaped few acres that held a series of Italianate chapels and mausoleums surrounded by elegant borders, specimen trees and shrubs, swans in pools, charming and poignant closes planted with weeping elm and alder.  

The mausoleums were behind doors, separate little buildings faced with marble and other exotic stones laid in patterns, scented with flowers; and each one had it's specific population.  One devoted to the virginal dead,  another to infants, another for children,  another for novitiates and members of the clergy, the Jewish separate from the Christian, the Masons separate from the Catholics, The Red Men standing alone behind gates that enclosed tall pillars of Imperial Red Granite, and many more groups nestled together in their separate buildings and gardens. Separate in life, separate in death.

The main building, the oldest and the most exquisite, reflected the pomp and conspicuous wealth of the early pioneer founders.  The Pittocks, the Dekums and others were spending eternity in a domed alabaster chapel that passed the light in tones of muted cream, and revealed the portrait busts of the sleepers atop tall plinths beneath the stained glass oculus high above.

We had people resting in this place.  One of them was my uncle, who had taken one look at the Civil War after debarking from his immigrant ship in New Orleans and thought to himself 'Oh fuck no,' and had walked to Oregon Country, where he was hidden in my grandmother's carriage house until a plausible back story could be concocted for him.  He never spoke anything but German, and as a 'German' immigrant, was slapped on the back and sent up to saw down the gargantuan old growth trees on the slopes of Mt. Hood.  One of them untwisted unexpectedly as it fell.  It  kicked back and crushed him with one glancing blow.  

He was thrown back onto the slope, heart stopped instantly, and his sojourn in the New World, beyond the grasp of the Manor where he had worked under the same feudal system that had chased my grandfather to the very docks of Finland (where he presented falsified papers, as my uncle had, that proclaimed him a free man and able to travel.)  

My uncle and grandfather spoke fluent German.  You had to, if you wanted to escape the consequences that would follow you to America from the Old World.  Only in his dotage did my Grandfather switch back to Finnish, and the rock hard, laughing, no-bullshit German woman he'd married would scoff at him and correct his accent, which drove him into gales of loud Finnish invective, and was answered by some fancy German vituperation.  My grandmother took no shit, grew plants, made her own wine and moonshine, and expected the Second Coming of Christ with calm patience. 

The other person was my fathers mother, a woman who was not spoken of in our family.  My father would stay there alone, deep in the lowest part of the mausoleum, and I never knew what he thought or what he felt. 

Every Memorial day we would pick our bouquets from my grandmothers huge flower garden.  Other families would stop along the curb and ask if they could cut flowers, too, and my Grandmother would go with them with her deadly secateurs and clip them a neat bouquet, which she would wrap in wetted paper napkins so that the flowers would not wilt.


Now I play the part of my Grandmother for the Bikers' family here in Whatcom County.  It falls to the wife, taking care of the graves, and although my husbands' family were never very churchy, I am proud to carry the torch for my grandmother and tend the graves of my husbands family, who are my family.  

I know what to bring, and when to go, and how to communicate with the caretaker.  The Bikers' family rest in a pioneer cemetery here in rural Whatcom County, and we tend their graves twice a year.  If there are other family members present they all look sideways at my Catholic ass as I say my prayer and then cross myself.  It's like a freaky secret coven to them, Methodists all.  I say ya know what?  My ass is edging the headstones, scrubbing out the graven letters and trimming up the evergreens from long, long ago that were planted to signify eternal remembrance.  You can just put up with my Papist shit , particularly since I don't see you on your knees using a pair of clippers or a bucket of soap and water and a scrub brush to clean off these headstones - and I don't even know these dead folks!  So do feel free to take the fuck off with your attitude.


For the most part, Memorial Day means massive illegal fireworks up here in Washington state.  It's pretty awesome, to tell you the truth.  The Biker and I can stand out on our front porch and watch huge, professional grade displays being shot off by all the local farmers, the rich folks who live up in the foothills, and the nuts who gather up a big old group of fools and go up onto the old logging stage of Dead Drug Dealer Mountain and fire off stupidly immense 'specials'.  Each one of those fuckers costs a brick at least and the really intricate displays will run way upwards of that.  

Here's the deal:  you can go onto any Native American reserve and buy all the huge, dangerous, ridiculous, crazy, beautiful, amazing, magic, deadly fireworks your little heart desires - from roadside stands!  Right off the boat from Macau, nice and dry.  The thing is, by federal law, you the consumer are supposed to fire them off while you are On Reserve Land.

Nobody fuckin' does this.

Well, correction.  The NA families that buy fireworks by the case-lot, around 1:00 in the night, will just pile up their unsold stock in the middle of the road and light the shit off.*  It is UNREAL, folks.  Rockets skim across the ground and through the corn and foddergrass and then rock into the culminating display on the ground, in one dimension, which, shit, you wanna talk about crop circles, man?  It's unsafe, insane, and an absolute fucking awesome time.  It is trashy and absolutely the most fun you can have with most of your clothes on.  It is destructive and illegal and a total gas. 

The drunker you are the better it is.  Fireworks and booze are like peas and carrots.  The booze makes you take potentially lethal creative leaps of the imagination, plus fire, and the blood alcohol level of the onlookers brings them into full appreciation of your efforts.  You lose a jumbo bottle rocket and it goes skimming across the ground, some member of your drunk and enthusiastic audience will grab hold of the stick and fling it into the air as it blows sparks up their arm.  That is brotherhood, man. That is your fellow American helping you make Memorial Day awesome.


The longer you store fireworks, the more dangerous it is, because the chance that they will get damp increases with time, and damp fireworks are untrustworthy.  Some chemical interaction occurs, I am given to understand, in the rockets that use the most of the ingredient that makes the color green.  (Feel free to correct me.  I heard this from a drunk person on the Fourth of July years ago when we set a sofa on fire and taught our grandchildren to use guns. And I pulled a loose tooth out of my head with a pair of needle-nose pliers.  It was an Epic Fourth, but I must necessarily doubt the verity of the information I obtained that night due to massive beer and vodka consumption.) 

The Marietta branch of the local Lummi tribe are known for getting rid of unsold inventory in a stupendous display of not giving a rusty rats' ass, bigtime.  They live on a silt bar at the mouth of a river that lets into a saltwater bay.  They block off the road above and below their row of roadside stalls, pile all the leftovers on the dotted line, and fire the sapsucker off.  No need to worry about nearby structures catching fire, no nearby woods to sweat - it's all tidal wash and estuary.  The whole area becomes a supernova, one that you can see from miles around as it glitters on the waters of the bay and swarms through the reeds and tule and cottonwood.

 The tribal police are so busy in other areas that even though they know that Marietta is blocking traffic and melting a hole in the tarmac, other bands in more remote parts of the area are setting bonfires using beach logs, gasoline and industrial fans.  When you are confronted with several columns of flame reaching up into the sky high enough to heat up the International Space station, you head toward the most obvious threat.  And frankly, this is something that everyone expects. It's almost tradition.  The Red River Lummis fire off huge bonfires on the beach full of driftwood and gasoline, and the Marietta Lummis create massive galaxies of destruction in the tidal surge swamps.  Five miles further inland, the Ferndale Lummis are lighting off professional grade displays from the top of the local grocery store, and all the Bostons (whitey) who have already laid in their supply and smuggled it off the rez are going nuts as well.

There is no way the police or the fire department can keep up with it.  They concentrate on the timberlands and the crops.  If someone is lighting off WWIII in a cul-de-sac in the middle of town, they'll hit that.

Off the rez, this havoc is being wreaked by people my age, old enough to know better.  They do.  They just don't care.  They have the money to buy the bigtime rockets, and they do.  They go up into the hills, find a timber stage, set up camp, burn some hot dogs, kill some beers, and then fire off professional grade fireworks until they get too drunk to operate a lighter.

We here at Rancho FirstNations don't spend a dime.  Everyone in town has paid for our entertainment.  We stand on the porch and the neighbors provide us with a display that you won't get from a team of pros.

No, that team of pros will be here come rodeo season, and come the Fourth of July we'll have a  nice, city-sponsored display too.  And it's usually a doozy.  One of the things that brought us to decide to live in this town was attending it's Fourth of July Celebration, with baseball games, a horse show (I dunno, dressage display?  Like a dog show but with people riding horses.  I'm not a horse person.) kids running around with sparklers and the rodeo grandstand filled with people who cheered and blew airhorns and sang The National Anthem and This Land Is Your Land and cheered.

Come Monday, which is Official Memorial Day, we'll go take care of our dead, then lay in some beers, have some friends over, barbecue some animal pieces and eat potato salad.  Come the evening, the whole sky will be lit up for hours, and we'll sit around our fire pit and just hang out and enjoy the show. 

You are invited.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Another Blast From the Past - WARNING not a happy stroll through the daffodils

Note:  This is a cold, cold read.  I did not like this man and I had no sympathy for him whatsoever.

George has since gone on to that Big Pharmacy In the Sky.  He died of hepatitis, like a good drug addict, and not the pancreatic cancer, cancerous brain tumor, phlebitis, arterial blockages and mini-strokes he was claiming all those years.  Not even his kids showed up at the funeral. 


You know how your significant other will usually have one friend who is an utter waste of skin? Someone you cannot imagine anyone associating with, much less the wonderful person you love?

For ten years now my husband has had a friend named George.

George, according to George, knows Tom Robbins, the author of 'Still Life With Woodpecker', 'Another Roadside Attraction', etc. Grew up with him. Blood brothers.
Whenever Tom's in town he visits George secretly, at night, and is gone with the dawns first light, because he doesn't want to cause a lot of media hoopla.
According to him, Tom Robbins weighs 500 lbs and is probably going to die of a heart attack.

According to George, he grew up with the Kneivels...Evel and son Robbie.
Rode motorcycles with them. Blood brothers, in fact.
When Robbie came to jump some cars here in Deming a couple of years ago, ol' George says he went up there and tried to (play the 'known him all my life' card) get in to see him, but Robbie Kneivel said 'Never heard of the guy' right to his face.
George says this is proof that Robbie Kneivel has gone Hollywood.

His daughter has recurring spells of hysterical blindness caused by his ex-wife's infidelity. According to George.

And yet, illogically, and according to George, he (profoundly and continuously stoned every waking moment ever since I've known him) and his ex-wife (300 lbs, depressed and raising two teenage girls alone and on Welfare) were swingers when we first knew them (and they were unable to pay rent or buy groceries, and had their Christmas turned in to a charity media event by a local radio station; probably broke because of all the  dues they were paying to all these private, exclusive swingers clubs  kaffkaffBULLSHITkaff) screwing celebrities and government officials and people you wouldn't even believe, man.

By the way, this means that if you swing, and you live in the Seattle-Everett-Bellingham area, you probably have fucked either George or his ex-wife, according to George.

I hope you were wearing a condom.

George is incapable of paying a bill or keeping a running car.
But according to George, he came into a huge inheritance two years ago. In the middle of a raging statewide housing market, George claims he lost it all investing in real estate.

George, according to George, has several original M. C. Escher lithographs and several Aubrey Beardsley prints in a safe deposit box. And a rare match edition ( signed by all twelve apostles with engraved meteoric silver and unicorn horn inlay or some shit like that) rifle.  So in case of an emergency, he can just liquidate those for big money.  Uh...hmm.

Seven years ago, George claimed that doctors had given him less than year to live.
He begged my husband to kill him. 
My husband refused. 
George said he understood.

George then had a premonition.
He would die that coming April 24th.
In June, after everyone (including George) had forgotten this dire prediction, I popped up and pointed out that George was 1. Well past his expiration date and 2. Still miraculously undeceased.
This was widely regarded as having been in poor taste on my part.

George has been dying of a mysterious ailment for the past sixteen years, according to George. As proof, occasionally George will suddenly remember he's supposed to be dying, freeze, contort his face, gak a couple of times and keel over.
He has run up several hundred thousand dollars trying to get this mystery ailment diagnosed.
He cannot pay these bills. Not even Bill Gates could pay these bills.
Not even Tom Robbins.

George, as you might have guessed, is captain of the good ship Munchausen.

His latest pile landed in my ear about an hour ago. (I wrote this yesterday. Now it's today.)
"Uhhh...I have a question...You probably know what I'm talking about when I mention... Aleister Crowley...? Maria Blavatsky....?" is how the conversation started.

"Ah", I thought, "George found some Vicodin. "

According to George, he had come into the possession of a hand written, original manuscript of the book of Dzyan. He alluded to its having been found in mysterious circumstances, and that some poor guy died right on the spot, probably suicide, man, where it had been found, just from holding it, and that there were lots of other really sick, weird stuff found all around him.  This was in a cave where George was being held captive because George. That the manuscript, which he had, was probably worth a lot of fuckin' money to someone.

"Ah", I thought, "George needs money for Vicodin. "

Now, George has been in jail for the past couple of months. We all know this.  It is a fact.

According to George, he has been in Venezuela.
Despite his former outstanding warrants, he was allowed to leave the country. Because he's George.  And  according to George, one of his 'big dope growing buddies from Wenatchee' took him.
Out of the country.
To Venezuela.
Where he found this hand written manuscript of the book of Dzyan. In a dead guys hand.
In a cave.
Oh!  And there were infants' skulls lying around in the cave too.

"...And you know what that means..." Said George knowingly.

George then produced an old, mimeographed transcript of a Theosophy lecture.

He handed it to me. I looked at it.   I looked at him.

"Randy's in the garage," I sighed.  

I knew what would happen next.

Yes. I AM a pitiless bitch. But that's aside the point. George says he can't afford child support, he can't afford rent, but he can ALWAYS afford every illegal narcotic known to pharmacy science and cram it by the metric shitload into his head.  It's bullshit.

He isn't that far gone.  He knows.  And he know's he's playing the 'be so pitiful and embarrassing that people will do anything to get you out of their space' card.  And he played it to the tune of several hundred dollars, by the time he left the garage.

Randy and I have since had a talk about George, and about Munchausens Disorder, and about everyone else we know who's being played similarly by George.  About Georges' kids and his ex wife, living on Welfare, and George living in a nice apartment and spending all his money on drugs.   

See, here's the kicker:   George is managing to hold down a full time job with benefits.  For eight hours a day, George manages to maintain flawlessly and operate equipment in a mill that makes - no shit - industrial sized sawblades for cutting stone and large metal solids.  This he does, and has buddy-buddied up the owner so well that he doesn't even get his wages garnished, which should rightfully be the case with dependent children.  But nope.  George has this manipulation thing down.  It's why he hasn't talked to me since his 'Book of Dzyan' episode.


Next time he goes to visit the infant sacrificing Theosophists and their mimeograph machine in Venezuela, I hope he stays.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Walk Down Memory Lane

 I just found my old blog here:

And if I do say so myself, and I do, parts of it are worth a read.  In fact, I'll throw a few up here.  This is one of my favorites.


I have no idea if Bill T was really related to us. What I remember is that he was supposed to have been my grandmothers' second cousin, so that's how we referred to him and his wife.

He was a nice old guy. He used to come over to our house quite a bit, his wife in tow, and play cribbage with my mom and her friends until the wee hours. Every hour or so he'd slip off outside to the trunk of his car where he had a bottle of Canadian Mist stashed and sip on that while he stood in the driveway and admired the stars.

His wife's name was Leota.

She was 5000 years old, had eight hairs left, weighed maybe 80 pounds and stood four feet tall.
Smoked constantly. Sometimes she'd have a cigarette going in each hand and one in the ashtray. We would find more of them smoldering away all over the house, long black foul things melting a line in the countertop or the arm of a chair, lying on the wool carpet in the middle of a glowing patch of nap.

Little Leota wasn't much for conversation. The complete lack of teeth was a barrier, as was the advanced senile dementia. Being perpetually pickled in vodka didn't help.
You have to stop and consider that for a moment. I can guarantee you she wasn't driving down to the liquor store even before the Altzheimers' set in because she couldn't drive and wouldn't have been able to see through the windsheild anyway. Where was she getting the stuff?
Every morning, Bill would get her up, run her through the tub, get her dressed,
shovel some Malt-O-Meal down her (very occasionally Maypo...she refused to eat anything else) and then set her in a chair out on the porch with her fifth of vodka and let her wave at the cars going by.
This was how a lot of poor, older people coped with a loved one's dementia, and still do.
She was loved. She was cared for. And as far as I could see she didn't have a bad life at all. What the fuck, you know?

Now Bill and my mom would get playing Crib and nothing could stop them. They played like demons. My dad and I weren't big card players, and we would have had to have been real hot shots to keep up with them anyway, so dad napped on the couch and I hung out in my room listening to records.
Dad could fall asleep anywhere, anytime. And when he did, more often than than not he would have really interesting dreams. I grew up with it so I didn't notice so much but it could really freak a visitor out. "Gahno farah muld gahyub! Call Jim!" he'd shout, with his arms waving around randomly. If it was coming from the couch, you ignored it.
Leota would watch the card playing and smoke. Occasionally she'd giggle. No reason, just joie d' vivre. Other times she'd come out with a brief statement and end it by saying Ha!
"You horse you, get that ol' cat! Fan room the store. Ha!"
Evenings at my house could be interesting.

The only thing she ever contributed regularly to the conversation was this kind of a verbal tic. She'd WUP.
Just out of the blue. No reason. She'd just be sitting there smoking quietly and suddenly out would pop 'WUP!'
Some days, you'd only hear one every two or three minutes. Other days she'd be wuppin' all over the place.

Sometimes she'd come up missing during the summer, when we kept the doors open. But all you had to do was be very quiet for a few minutes, and then off in the distance you'd hear 'Wup!' and you'd follow that. My parents were rather impressed when I showed them this discovery. You'd find her over in my Grandma's yard, looking over the fence at the neibors having a barbecue, take her by the hand, everyone would wave 'bye', and home you went, wuppin' all the way.

One night I was lying on my bed reading and listening to the intermittent 'Wups' coming from the kitchen when I was struck by a bolt of inspiration so hard it hurt my brain. Inspirations like these came frequently the year I was thirteen.
I crept down the hall into the entryway, where I was hidden from the view of anyone in the kitchen, except Leota.
Leota went 'Wup!'

I went 'Wup!"

Then she said 'Wup!"

I answered 'Wup!"

And she replied 'Wup!"

Everyone playing cards at the kitchen table was totally oblivious. Leota was having fun. I was having fun too when dad caught me.
He thought it was hysterical. I mean, yeah, he sent me to my room, but he was laughing.

An hour later I happen to glance up towards the living room and there's dad on the couch, peeking over the easy chair towards the kitchen.
'Wup!" said my dad.

The ensuing silence was so thick you could cut it!

"Wup!" came from the kitchen.
"Niilo! Now stop that! That's not funny!" yelled my mom.

Man, I fell OFF THE BED. I laughed so hard I think it stunted my growth.

You couldn't help but like Leota. She was in a happy, simple place, like a (really really wrinkly) baby (who smoked) enjoying a sunbeam.

Now, ninety-nine times out of a hundred Leota was happy to watch the card players; but sometimes she wanted a change of scene. However, because she had a form of Tourettes' that caused her to chirp "WUP!' at regular intervals like a smoke alarm with a failing battery, she was fairly easy to ride herd on.
The thing was, you had to be paying attention. She would go into closed rooms and stand quietly in the dark, nothing evident but the ember on her smoke and you'd never know she was there until you happened to hear 'wup!' float out from behind the door.
Once in the bathroom I heard a cheery 'wup!' coming from the cabinet right next to where I was sitting and about died of a heart attack. We found her in the basement standing under the metal laundry chute, wupping away, entertained by the echo.

This is what happened the very last time she visited:
One November afternoon, everyone was sitting around the kitchen table, my mom and all the other card sharks, partying it up loud and happy, knocking back the 7 and 7's. As usual I was avoiding all this by hiding in my room.
My mom came knocking on my door. "Leota's gone. Is she in here?"
Since it was cold, and I was the kid, I got sent outside to look for her while everyone else staggered around the house hooting 'LeOOOOTaaaa....'
Me, I glanced around close by, listened for her, didn't hear her, and promptly put all thought of her completely out of my mind. Evidently everyone else did too, because when I returned they were all pretty surprised to see me. "Where'd you go?" asked Mom.

I needed to hit the Ritz. The half bath was for the card players, so I went down the hall to the master bathroom.
Knocked on the door. Nobody answered. I opened the door.
I found Leota.

My moms beautiful pink bathroom with the pink fixtures and the pink towels and pink curtains, yeah. Not any more.
Leota had been fingerpainting.
She had decorated the entire wall, from the floor up as high as she could reach, with shit.
She had painted the entire side of the bathtub with shit.
She had painted the entire inside of the bathtub with shit.
And the faces of all the cabinets.
And the mirror, the counter, the sink, and the floor.

Everything except the toilet, oddly enough.

The entire bathroom was covered in shit. And so was she.

She had a smoke going. She smiled at me toothlessly from where she sat on the bathmat. 'Wup!' she said.

Complete disaster. Yelling, buckets, throwing things out the bathroom window onto the lawn, people running in and out of the house brandishing Pine-Sol, playing cards on the floor, forget it. Total chaos.

I was gone when it happened, but I understand Leota got her very first shower that day at our house and didn't care for it much. She went home in a bathrobe. She got to keep it.

I was outside at the time. My parents put me outside. They were pissed off because I wasn't helping. I wasn't helping because I could not stop laughing and I couldn't walk. I laid on the back stoop with the tears streaming back into my ears and lost my mind, man; I howled. It was not my finest moment.

Yes I know that lacks class. But I was 13 years old. I had no class.

Not like I do now.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Thick and Fast

So yeah, more flowers.  They just came into bloom today!

A japanese iris that I took out of my bosses' compost heap back in 1991 or so.  The clump stands taller than I do now.

Depressed Black Kitty visits the Shrine of Geofferey.

Iris pseudacorus, being yellow

An utterly exquisite Iris germanicus 'Interpol'.

rosa 'Celine Brunner'

I'm still trying to get a perfect picture of rosa 'Munstead Wood' and failing. Crap!

A view from my shade bed towards my garage, and the apartments just visible above it - built three feet off the side wall of my garage (grrrr)

Kind of a crappy picture of Sambucus niger.  It's just started to come into blossom, though, so there's that.

It's really coming into bloom now.  Last year I would have been happy, and that would have been it.  This year I have over 60 brand new neighbors who like to gather on the sidewalk right in front of my house and just hang out and chat.  This is not a public park, folks. I'll probably end up getting a fence, which just makes me sad. Back a couple of years ago, when this was still a town that people twenty miles away had never heard of, my garden was kind of a nice thing for people to wander past and see.  Now I've got kids and dogs, and the occasional adult chasing a kid or a dog.  Oh well. Change gonna happen, I guess.

Friday, May 21, 2021


 I should have made this more specific.  This is all my fault.  Everyone makes this mistake.

The town I grew up in was MILWAUKIE, Oregon.  OREGON.  MILWAUKIE.

The town where they make the beer, and where Fonzie and Happy Days took place is MilwaukEE, Wisconsin.  

Yes, my hometown is named after the Wisconsin town, but people didn't really spell very well back in those days and they drank a lot too.  That is literally the reason we were taught in school - "Why is it named Milwaukie instead of MilwaukEE?"  Because it was named by undereducated drunks. No shit.

Just A Picture

 This is what's taking place all over my garden.  Take a look.

This is the truth.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Hot Stuff Baby You Want It, Honey!

 I have a bizarre physiology in that my system quickly becomes used to any given substance and develops a tolerance to it.  I am also able to digest compounds, particularly capsaicins, fully, so that whatever stupid hot stuff I've eaten doesn't 'take it's revenge on the way out.' 

Back when I was eight years old my father made friends with a dude from the Bandidos MC whose road name was Paco.  Paco was super cool, an older dude with a wife and a family and grandkids.  He rode a huge fuckin' Harley and flew his colors all the time.  The 'didos were known for turning it around - a leather bore your top and bottom rocker with your club mascot and motto, if any, in the middle.  Other 1%'ers would cover up their colors with Levi's jackets with the arms cut off, which made it into a denim  vest called a 'cutoff'.  The Bandidos, at least in Multnomah and Clackamas, never, never rode under cuts.  Their way of telling all the other clubs how badass they were was to get their old lady to weave (on a frame and nail loom; remember those, old people?) a vest with a personalized version of the official Bandidos insignia and the riders road name.  That was REPPING. You never rode under a cut. They were Bad Mother.... (Shut your mouth! Well I'm talkin' bout Shaft! Then we can dig it!)

Anyway, so much for biker culture.  At the time I was cooking all my own food because my mothers cooking was...less than optimum.  If I wanted to see anything on my dinner plate that wasn't boiled or had gone through a pressure cooker, then I had to make it, and I used to watch Graham Kerr and copy the recipes and make my own dinners.  One of the things I loved was Spaghetti Diavolo.  Only my Diavolo was straight from the Seventh Circle of Hell; Violence - and I violently used that hot chili spice, man.  It made ol' Paco sweat and wipe his face and my father cough and sweat. Ha.

Around that same time Mezzetta came out with pickled jalapeno peppers, and Paco had gotten my dad addicted to them, because he'd bring a jar to work and pass them out.  All the white boys freaked, but my dad was (all flaws aside) cast fuckin' meteoric iron, and nothing brought him down.  He developed a taste for them, and we started having a jar of them on the table for dinner every meal.  My dad challenged me to eat one, thinking that I would gag and cry or something - but I didn't.  Sure, it burned, but it burned good, and it had that vinegar bite that killed the taste of my moms cooking.  I became addicted too.

Over the years I challenged myself to eat hotter and hotter peppers, and I worked my way up to Scotch Bonnets, raw.  Like an apple. 'Sweet Old Man' peppers - like an apple.  People told me I was going to give myself an ulcer, but seriously?  All the cultures in the world that include raging  hot peppers in their everyday cuisine who aren't suffering from bleeding ulcers kind of convinced me that I wasn't doing anything dangerous - just delicious.

By the time I was in my fifties I was eating La Yucatecan green sauce like it was water, on everything.

And one of my friends said 'You know, you ought to go into competitive chili eating."

This appealed to me.

Peppers! Being a chick!  Delicious peppers!  Showing off! Winning money!  (Or more usually beer, or a tavern jacket, or some lottery tickets)?  Yeah, I was thinking about it.  I started buying Scotch Bonnets and eating them raw, and grinding up Japonaises and coating chicken nuggets with the dust and working my way up, man.  My husband was afraid to eat leftovers.  My daughter frankly cried.  And so between these two white folks, I decided not to accidentally poison my family and gave it up.

Yes, I was almost a competitive hot pepper eater.

Could I still work my way back up?  Hell yes I could.  But I'm not going to because - there really isn't any real return for your effort, and some of those exotic hot chilis cost money, honey.

So I am going to pass on my secrets of hot chili eating to those of you who have been considering entering the arena:

1. Mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise emulsifies oil and water.  It ties itself to the hot capsaisin and renders it into a form that can be washed away by water.  One sip of milk and you're out of a competition.  Water?  Not a problem.  Piece of bread?  Tortilla?  Home free.

2. Cortisone.  If you have an inflammatory issue and you take any corticosteroid, it cuts the reaction of your body to capsaisin by about 2/3.  A bird pepper will give you a minor tingle and a wink if you have corticosteroids on board. No shit.

3. Bananas.  If you have one of those stomachs that refuse to listen to reason, eat a few bananas before the ordeal.  That hot stuff will just get lost in the shuffle.

Now that you have my secret hot pepper eating secrets, go forth.  Compete.  Rise to greatness. Get that tavern jacket!  Spend a shitpile of cash!  Travel to Thailand and compete against North Dakotans, huge Teutons and sly Scotsmen, eager to prove their DNA against native consumers!  Eat those peppers!  Go for the gold!!!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

That Shirt

 When I was in sixth grade, Masterpiece theater was running The Six Wives of Henry The Eighth, and I was ALL IN.  My mother, and even my father.  Aleister Cooke introduced the episodes sitting in an armchair before an open fire, in a library full of books, and then for an hour on public television you were in a scandalous, irreverent, wonderful world of exquisite lace collars and extravagant codpieces, gems,  satin, silk and furs, court intrigue, corruption, base influence and true, if misguided, piety.

Nobody had ever seen anything like this, not where I lived.  And everyone was watching it.  Everybody!  In my neighborhood of legal secretaries, truck drivers, bartenders, store clerks, accountants and housewives, it was on every tongue, the way Upstairs, Downstairs would be, and Brideshead Revisited, and Downton Abbey would be.  My father, a foreman splicer at the dockyards, would manage to stay awake through an episode, and react to the things going on as the episode played.

Me, I was IN.  

I found, and don't ask me where, a beautiful shirt.  It was tailored and had long tails.  It buttoned up the front, had a tall, long collar and long, pointed cuffs.  The sleeves were gathered hard at the shoulders, leg o' mutton, and ran all the way down in tiny, tiny pleats to the long cuffs.  It was a muted sunset color, with lengthwise stripes, and I practically lived in it.

It made me feel like a young courtier, a princess pretending to be a prince, a duchess pretending to be a duke.  It fit me perfectly.  

I was a bounteous young thing at 11 years old.  I would braid my hair wet the night before, and then unbraid it the next morning and pull it back into a loose, romantic ponytail with the temples curled, and hit school like...I dunno. The Scarlet Pimpernel?  Something androgenous.

Because I had a reputation as a reader and an artist, I was allowed to walk to the big library in  downtown Milwaukie and use the adult readers section. (This was an honor that I'd won at the age of six, when the librarian took a look at what I'd been checking out and upped my age and printed out my card with a wink.)  And like a dork, instead of using that time to get high and hang out under the railroad tracks with homeless junkies, I did honestly walk all the way from Seth Llewelling Elementary School to the main library in downtown (as it was ) Milwaukie and luxuriate in ALL THE REFERENCE and THE ADULT COLLECTION.

One day I was there looking up a list of words in the Big Dictionary that was set on a sturdy oak podium near the main checkout desk. When I say Big Dictionary, I mean a book that you had to have a librarian help you open, and then had to use cotton gloves to turn the pages and a weighted bar to hold the pages in place so you didn't accidentally cause any creases when you closed the book.

So there I was, in my favorite shirt, with my favorite hairdo, looking at the Truly Immense Dictionary

in a studious manner, and someone took my picture.  I looked up, and it was a young man with an unnecessarily large and complex camera, and I thought to myself "Huh." and let that go.

Until I turned up in the Milwaukie Journal.  Our little towns newspaper.

Looking fuckin' STUNNING.

Out of all the pictures ever taken of me, that photo is the one that pretty much captures  me.  

I wore that shirt until it refused to button over the tits anymore.  It was wore OUT.  And I  miss it. It was just my color, just my style, set off the shape of my face and made me look like an androgynous, sexy young courtier who got up to no good at night and conveyed secret messages and got up to Hijinks.

One of the things I am surprisingly good at is using a sewing machine.  One of these days I might go online and find a pattern and make myself a grown up version of that shirt.  It made me feel heroic and adventurous.  And what more can you ask from a piece of clothing?

(My love to The Elf)

Well Of Course It's Raining. Hailing, Too!

 As soon as I saw the Iris Germanica putting out spathes I knew we were in for a hailstorm, and Nature did not disappoint.  It's hitting the window now like someone throwing handfulls of gravel at my house from close range.  Thankfully the irises were not opened (a couple of pseudacorus, nothing rare) but of course the peonies are out there confused as hell with the way the weather is changing from hour to hour.  Do I stay open? Do I stay closed?  WTF?  (My peonies have gutter mouths, I know, it's embarrassing.)

I carefully edited out all the development that's been taking place next to my house.  There is an elementary/Jr. Hi (Oh hoo-RAY) going up right behind my house, blocking my view of the Canadian Cascades once and for all.  I used to be able to see them out of my kitchen window.  Next year I'll be looking out at a big building filled with zitty kids.  And those zitty kids will be all up in my grille and I am seriously considering cyclone fencing now.

The Biker went on his first job interview today, and since it was arranged by his current place of employment (that is closing it's doors) I hope it gives him an 'in'.  If he can't work he'll spiral out into a depression, and I'll spiral out into husbandicidal tendencies if I have to put up with him sitting around my house unemployed, watching car crash videos.  

I, on the other hand, had to stop waking up to puppy and  kitten videos. 

I got into the habit this last winter because puppies and kittens are not bleak and are frequently cute and funny.  Now I've discovered  that puppies and kittens can get real old. REAL OLD.  I know that after awhile I'll be back down with the puppies and kittens, but for now, the Garden awaits.

And what is it with all the bearded dragons lately? How is that a fun pet?  And people buy clothes for them!'s a fucking lizard!  I do not understand this.  Just like I don't understand the 'Goats as a house pet' trend.  Pigs...I can see a piggy as an outdoor pet.  But on my furniture? NO. Similarly super miniature horses.  Just...why? Why is that a thing? Who said 'You know what we need?  A super miniature horse the size of a dog clambering all over our stuff and fucking it up with it's hooves and gnawing on our furniture.  That sounds like a fun pet. IN AN APARTMENT.'  And there is nothing sadder than seeing a monkey in a diaper trapped in a suburban home with a woman who speaks to it in a high baby voice.  GAAH.

So in the time it's taken me to type this, the hail has stopped, the skies have cleared, there is sunshine, no precip of any kind, and yeah.  I can't really do anything outside because all I have left is lifting, dividing and planting, and that's not good in wet, heavy clay.  It is bad and no fun.

At least it's not snowing.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Flowers. Yes, Flowers. And You'll Like Them.

A few new additions to the Favorites albums

Rather a shitty picture of the star of my garden, the very first 'Munstead Wood' rose to open.  Sooty, velvety, diamond-dusted and a deep, luscious purple-red, it smells like what every other rose in the world is trying to smell like.  Can you tell I'm in love?  But take a good look at those thorns.  Every branch is like that.  This is a perfect, open, spreading bush rose, a repeat bloomer, and it'll make yer yard stink purdy.

Brand new and #1, first thing this morning:  Sunsplash.  It's a Weeks Rose so it has that odd 'cotton candy' smell, but look at that darling face.  You could forgive it anything.

Alum root pretty much losing it's mind here.

Yes, this is corny.  No, I don't care.  I DO have everything, INCLUDING the kitchen sink, thank you.  I think I post this same lame old joke every year, but I get to.  So there.  Eventually I'll scrub it up and fill it with sedums, but for now, here it is in it's native state.  Pure. Untouched.

People are beginning to slow  down and take pictures already.  Mainly it's the Itoh Red peony - it went off like a roman candle!

This is right out by the sidewalk at the front corner of the property.  It's hyooge this year, and really stealing the show!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Let's see if this works...

Just 'copy, paste' that addo into the search box OF YOUR BROWSER, not Blogger, and the album should come up for you.  As it stands I'm having a hell of a time getting it to post here.  So if it works, I hope you like it, and if it doesn't, it was a bunch of pictures of flowers.


An Itoh Red peony, just opened this morning and already full of bees!

A group of 'Black Parrot' tulips lurking in the underbrush

Blue Aquilegia everywhere!

Yes, this is real, no, I didn't jigger with the color.  This is a miniature clematis I got at Lowes and it comes on claret red.  The only one remotely like it is 'Niobe' which runs to purple. SO COOL.

Tiny workmen driving through the middle of my garden. GET OFF MY LAWN.

A little bed in the center of my driveway where there used to be an enormous poplar.  And yet people still try to use my driveway to turn around in - hence the rocks.

The view from my house.  OK, the most rural part of the view from my house.   The rest of it is suburbs.

Welcome to Rancho FirstNations!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Home Improvement, Ol' Folks Stylee

 My bathroom is now a beautiful shade of blue.  It no longer looks like a place where crack is manufactured.  It looks like a really pleasant place to take a dump.

I have also gone over all the railing and house trim with black paint, and it perked the joint up something fierce!  My crib is looking smart.  Now I have to go around with the grey paint and use ladders and tie-ons and shit because there's places on my house that the paint has just flaked off of for whatever reason.  I - me! - painted the house about twelve; fifteen years ago and got it looking nice.  This year I took a big old flake of the faded grey paint to the store and had them mix up a batch and lo:  I can spot-treat my house without it's looking like I had to hire day labor.  Tomorrow is the big day.  I'll begin on the shade side, and then just chip my way around and touch it up as the sun leads.

Except that the local plant nursery is open on Sundays, and they have a few plants that I've been wanting at freakishly reasonable prices ( Cloud Mountain Nursery, Nooksack, WA) - probably because they are a teaching establishment and use a lot of slave labor/interns to do the heavy lifting. So yeah, Monday. Monday I'll be touching up the paint.


The tenor of my entries has been homeowner based ever since we paid off the joint, and I know I haven't been the funny monkey that people have come to know and be appalled by, but owning, really OWNING property changes your outlook.  After having rented my whole adult life, suddenly I OWN this chunk of ant-chewed wood and insufficient insulation.  

It's oddly like when I was a little kid and I had Barbies.  I used to take their clothes and alter them, add stuff, subtract stuff, restyle...right? I know, me?  Using a sewing machine?  Playing with Barbies?  But I did, and I was nuts about them because there were so many patterns for Barbie clothes (put out by Butterick, as I recall) and I used to use old  Goodwill-thrift shop clothes for yard goods.  My Barbies looked like the first night of a new season of RuPauls Drag Race.  They had crazy Carnaby street fashions and wild, extreme minis and microminis,  Emma Peel high fashion togs and accessories, just everything I could get my hands on for...geeze, I don't recall the patterns being any more than .69 cents.

This is not to say that my house looks like a giant, ant-chewed drag queen.  That's not what I mean at all. Just that I own the fucker and I'm doing things to prink it up so that it's an asset to our little town, right by the 'Welcome To Sumas' sign.  I really take pride in this.  


Today as we were sitting here enjoying multiple tasty beverages and watching videos of cute pets doing cute things, who should come in peeking around the sofa but Chica!

We leave the house open to let the air blow through during nice weather.  I get the occasional swallow and hummingbird, but this is the first time I've ever had a Staffie come in, grinning like a clown, to say howdy.  Neighborhood Crackhead was outside calling for her, and the Biker and I were cracking up, and finally I got a hold of her harness and carried her outside to her Dad.  Staggering.  That dog is a CHONK.  Then we shut the joint up for a few hours.

Depressed Black Kitty often lets herself travel through my house, just passin' through.  Says 'Mewoo?' as she walks from the kitchen to the front room and out the front door.  Just an informal visit.  

I've had starlings fly in and land on my head while I was washing dishes, and swallows will fly through during midsummer, back and forth, just playing.  Hummingbirds will zip through, stop in front of my face to cuss me out, and then continue on.  

Yesterday I had a newly fledged crow (certainly a son or daughter of Alice and Ralph) court me with 'feed me' calls until I got it a hamburger bun.  I taught it my 'treats' whistle and made sure that lil' bird saw my face in association with treats, and learned to associate a certain whistle I've made up specifically to signal 'Crow Treats!'  and a certain face (mine, duh) with those treats.  I waited in sight quietly until lil' bird came and took a few bites, and repeated my 'food lady' whistle, and made sure the bird saw me.

Think what you will. That crow and I communicated.  It did the same thing with me - 'asked' for food, made sure that I saw its body from all sides, and then retreated to wait.  It was an extremely rudimentary exchange, but a question was asked of a known source of food, (me) and the KSoF identified herself and provided food in answer to the request.  I'm trying to replicate the studies that are being done in the Seattle Arboretum with wild crows - assessing their powers of sonic, visual and routine memory. There's a link out there, go hit it.  It's incredibly interesting.

There are similar experiments being done with the New Zealand Kea.  It's an alpine parrot (?) that is so deviously clever that we'd probably never know if they took over the reins of global government.  I kind of hope they do.


This time of year the queens are hatching.  Hornets, Wasps and Bumblebees, kids.  They pupate in the soil until it reaches a certain warm temperature for a few days in succession, then shed their shiny brown shells and emerge from the earth fat, groggy, lost and hungry.  Any 'stingy' insect you see here around May is a queen, and is looking for carbohydrates so that it can get laid and begin building a nest for it's eggs.  I am prejudiced in favor of bumbles and honeybees.  Let a wasp or a hornet get in here? Motherfucker dies.  I have enough problems in my life without tiny flying carnivores.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Really? More Garden Shit? YES MORE GARDEN SHIT

Remember a couple of years ago when miniature 'Fairy Gardens' were all the rage?  You'd find a little nook in your garden and put little miniature tables and chairs and whatnot in there and it would look super cute.  Generally, I do not do super cute, and particularly not in the garden.  Yeah, I have a few Tonka toys out there, but they're all rusty and shit.

Then I ran into the stump of an old Black Pussywillow that croaked in my back yard a couple of years ago, and it cracked off in such a way that it left a perfect little grotto.

I succumbed to temptation.  

 Behold the hidden grotto where tiny fairies can worship their golden god!

I have a bunch of little figurines from trophies hidden all over my garden.  This is Geoffrey, the god of victory and also the god of holding headgear made of laurel leaves aloft while looking buff.

Consider yourselves super lucky to have even seen this.  I had to army crawl through a poky bush and dirt and grass and shit to get these photos.  Isn't he shiny?  Maybe someday soon I'll catch a gathering of his worshippers doing him honor, or having a potluck or whatever they do.  That'll be cool.

Here is a rare sport of rosa 'Cinco de Mayo' - 'Cinco de Mayo Eyeballito'.  Note how bloodshot that eye is.  This rose knows how to party.

Here we see Beverly the Bowler taking aim at Simon the Salesman.  Their relationship is fraught with strife, but they just added a brand new gold John Deere tractor to their domestic melange, so let's hope for the best.  That shit ain't cheap.

All false modesty aside, I proudly display my TWO Silver Sow awards for Excellence in Farm Journalism right at the steps that lead to my front door.  One is a little less silver than the other because you don't just win that shit like pin the tail on the donkey, man.  The competition is FIERCE.

Old jacked-up gas pump?  We got one!  Fake vintage Pontiac sign?  We got one!  A metal home just made for infestation by hornets?  We got one!  Right next to our garage door!  Oh, and a Frau Halstrup rose in bloom.

The Bikers' shed with all the pagan luck.

My shed, encouraging sloth.  YES.  I have TWO SHEDS.  TWO SHEDS, PEOPLE.  TWO OF THEM.

Oh holy shit here's some whimsey.  It's an old 1950's rototiller I got for $5.00, because clearly I needed an old seized up rototiller.  And here it is, with the old half of my house showing.  

Wanna know why that attic hatch is so big? Serious as shit - it's so if someone died in the middle of the winter, they could get the body out of the house even if there were deep snowdrifts (and yes, they do get that deep here.)  Inside there in the attic is a lightning stick hanging from one of the rafters - that's a branch taken from a tree that was struck by lightning and nailed to the rafters of a house to keep future lightning strikes away, assumedly because it's already been that sticks' turn.  And the stick?  Was from a tree that stood at the North corner of our property and was hit by lightning and fell on the house and just caused all kinds of shit and kerfuffle; but that was in 1940 -  so whatever.

You'll probably never see another one of these.  The tree is a Camperdown Elm that I got as a seedling from a nearby property.  Now usually Camperdowns are grafted onto a scion of regular elm and let to cascade, because a Camperdown is a rare mutation of elm that has no gene for making a trunk - just a canopy.  I put eyebolts into the main branches as they grew and drew them upwards with turnbuckles until I had the form I wanted.  It was a bitch and it took fifteen years, but I have this lovely tree and it's amazing, zigzag structure, and it's an ornament all year round.

The stuff in front are tigerlilies that have yet to reach full height and blossom.  I think they look nice here just as a plant form.

Japanese Maples 'Golden Moon' thing.  An upright of cotynus 'Velvet Cloak' is trying to steal the spotlight left.

Things are happening fast out there!  Every day I've got something new waiting for me!  So while the garden is puttin' right along and doing fine, I'm painting my bathroom blue.  Because it was time.  There comes a time when that bathroom has to be painted blue, folks.  I'm doing it.  I'm doing it for AMERICA.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The May Wait

 Everything is up and leafing out.  Now we are into the May Wait out in the garden, when all the plants are pulling at the ground like hungry kittens, trying to make flowers to tempt the emerging native pollinators.  Bumbles, Orchard Masons, various flies and of course honeybees; although those are already on the job thanks to the raspberry and blueberry farmers.

You might not realize it, but shitty bastards like hornets and wasps also play their part in pollinating.  So do field mice, who will clamber around on your plants at night looking for sleepy aphids and other insects to eat. So do cats, who rustle around in the garden and help plants sprinkle pollen into the breeze.  In fact, so do I, wandering around among the flowers pulling weeds.  I am a native pollinator!  And a Native American! I know, right?

Honeybee doin' it's honey thing.  Rock on, lil' bee.

I know that the media has been pushing this 'death of the pollinators' thing for years now.  Kids, I haven't seen it.   Yes, I've seen a shortage of apis mellifera, the common honeybee, and that's as much due to poor husbandry and lousy sanitation as it is mites and disease.  One follows the other. 


Skeps are transported by the DOUBLE TRAILER LOAD, by semis, twenty skeps high, and dropped off at fields, and the farmhands take them in stacks of five and put those here and there amid the fields. That's status quo.  It didn't used to be that way.  People used to realize that you needed to be very clean and particular when it came to honeybees.

 Honeybee husbandry changed around the late Seventies. Now it has a 'throwaway' paradigm going.  They're a commodity, and a valuable one.  You don't just let them fly away and create wild nests, no.  You ship in a bee that's adapted to a Mediterranean climate, essentially a one-season creature in this latitude, and voila, another cash crop created where none existed 50 years before. 

My uncle was a beekeeper, and he would get called out to take down wild nests, which he would transfer to surgically clean skeps.  All insects are susceptible to filthy conditions, molds, fungi and mites.  His outfit was a lot like a cheesemaking operation - very, very clean, stainless steel equipment, live steam and iodine used to keep the product safe - and the hives and frames were treated similarly.  You never saw a skep with black fungus crawling up the sides like you do now - the farmer would throw that into the fire!  You never saw mass transport of skeps like you do now - the producer knew that in those concentrations a disease would move like wildfire through the entire load, as it travelled 50, 100, or more miles to it's destination.  And handlers had to clean their beekeepers outfits with an iodine solution, particularly their gloves.

Out in my garden right now I have a riot of happy pollinators doing their thing. Hummingbirds, sphinx moths - hell, moths of all sorts - birds, know the saying 'Nature abhors a vacuum'?  Nature is filling that vacuum out here with such enthusiasm that I have to mow the yard with my pantlegs tucked into my socks like a dork because the ground wasps get pissed off.  Bumblebees will just dive and smack into you.  

Chubby bumblebee just pollinating your world for all it's worth!

Queen hornets, which are waking up right about now, will just follow you around by the scent of your exhale and menace you and land on you and generally act like assholes and sting you for no reason.  Or even take a bite out of you with their freakin' jaws if you've cracked a heavy, salty sweat.  Yes.  They do that.  They think you're dead, you see.  That's what hornets do - clean up carrion and pollinate things.  If you smell like carrion, well...shit gonna happen.

We are not at the brink of disaster.  We are being taken for idiots by Big Agriculture.  I see this every year.  I've had people who work with bees on an artisanal level tell me the same thing that I've just said. It's not so much a problem of disease as it is husbandry and stock.

Something to bear in mind:  The honeybee is not native to America.  Nope. It was brought here from Europe. (Fuck you, Europe.) They went feral and adapted.  Before that, it was just native pollinators, and if ya don't believe me, read this:

If ya don't believe me, that's SCIENCE up there in that link.  

We're gonna make it.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

More Tantalizing Views of My Rural Idyll Thanks To The Boop Stik

 It rained a little last night, and a few flowers opened.

Here are some nice blue columbines backed by the new yellow-green leaves of a blueberry bush.  Yeah, I use blueberry in the garden and this is why.  Yellow in the spring, fruit in the summer and bright psychedelic orange and red in the fall!

This is a view of the bed right in front of my house.  From the right Sambucus niger, blueberry, blue columbines, a couple of roses, some shrubs and trees and shit and my front porch and the roofs of the apartments that were built right titty on our lot line.  Although it does beat the former in havbitants of that lot, the animal hoarders and the chick who would scream at their pear tree at night. Yeah, they burned that place down, put up four fourplexes, which comes to an instant 64 people three feet off the wall of my garage, and bitch, grumble, moan, complain.

Some nice Welsh poppies, the stems of columbine with new flowers ready to open, and a powerline. The rocks there are not bricks - they're naturally occurring basalt needles.  I go up to Mt. Baker and just gather them off the roadside.  Purdy kewl!

A snapdragon that for some odd reason decided to bloom out of season.  I'll take it!  It's a sport of 'Black Prince' that's been jumping around my garden for years, after I stole the seeds out of a public planting in Everson.  That's how I roll.  Arrrrr.  Behind it is rosa 'Coffee Bean', and beyond that the black leaves of 'Palace Purple' heuchera, a few little yellow poppies, and some leaves of daylilly.  OO, and a star magnolia that's all out of stars for this year, and somebodies' house, and the brown square that is the back of our 'Welcome to Sumas!' sign.

I'll have to limit y'all here.  It's a lot of awesome to take in all at one go.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Freakin' Neighbors Being All Friendly And Shit

Yesterday it was everybody, young, old, and canine, and they were all on my sidewalk wanting to chat, and letting themselves into my garden and being friendly and casual and nice.  Neighborhood Crackhead, his dog Chica and I just hung out on the grass for awhile that afternoon and listened to music together and played with the dog, and that was nice.  We're friends now.  Casual and nice.

The four little (horsemen of the apocalypse) boys who must know about every plant in sight were back and forth all day long chatting about what, I have very little idea, because they start sentences in the middle of a thought and aren't real clear on things, and talk about video games a lot.  I nod and smile.  And shoo the littlest guy out of my yard multiple times a day.

The kid next door had his girlfriend over.  You can tell because his dog gets all bent out of shape and barks nonstop until they're...done...and she leaves, slick as hell, ten minutes before Dad gets home.  He has that dog on a leash and out the door he goes, nice, responsible older brother, as dad loads in stuff from his car, and the Biker and I just look at each other and snerk a bit.  Kid's got it down to a science.  That, and when someone lives literally five feet away from you, you get to learn their comings and goings, as it were.

Pet Teenager came over and insisted on helping me weed.  She does a good job and she's a nice, funny kid, and we did some weeding.  And then she began to decompensate.

Pet Teenager has bipolar disorder.  As the minutes passed, she slid into a manic episode.

Now I've had a few of them.  Hell, my daughter spends half her life that way.  So I didn't get too alarmed when she told me; I'd already guessed. And since she's a happy hyper, she said some incredibly goofy stuff that had us laughing so hard we were lying on the grass in hysterics.   Finally she got to a point where she needed to go home, so I gently kept her on track, and she made it home OK.  I gotta say, she weeded the holy hell out of my garden.  It looks downright professional out there.


Same thing happened today.  It was Mothers' Day here, and I hung out and we barbecued some hamburgers and it was nice. Everyone was out walking around, riding bikes, razor scooters, skateboards; me, I kind of sidled around the yard and avoided contact, because sometimes you just want to hang out and not chat.

It occurred to me then that I have friends in town.

I was really, really careful to stay on distant but friendly terms with people for years, because this is a small place.  But time and carelessness on my part has lead to me knowing peoples' names and stuff, and now here I am, barely civilized, only marginally social, and I have friends.  Just casual neighborhood friends.

Shit, my parents didn't even have friends in our neighborhood.  My grandmother lived right next door, there were uncles and cousins living nearby, and those were the people we hung out with mostly; that and a few friends from the shipyards where my dad worked who were bikers.  One was a Bandito and the other guy was a lone wolf who rode with the Hells Angels - both of them super good guys and really nice to me.  But my parents never did any socializing close to home, and given the fact that we were the weird family on the street, that was probably for the best. (They were bickerers, and it was constant; and sometimes the volume was such that as soon as I turned onto our street I could hear them.  Clearly.  And they used high, mocking tones of voice and exaggerated sarcasm that really made the whole sideshow complete, man.)  Some days I'd just ride on past and go hit one of my friends houses and call home to ask if I could stay for dinner.  Thank God we had a very nice house and yard.  I mean THANK GOD for that.  You could get away with a lot of shit as long as you kept your property up.  

We had a neighbor who was in the National Guard, and when he got going, us kids would stop and just stare at his house.  The man was a sergeant who trained the new recruits and boy, he kept the goddamn troops in line, man.  His wife and three daughters were scared to death of this asshole - but he kept his yard up.  Gorgeously landscaped.  Pass!

Not so with one of the guys who lived a couple of houses away.  Didn't mow his yard, let the place get crappy looking, had a broken down car parked at the curb - dude had the police at his house about twice a month.  And it was just yelling and stuff, no gunfire or anything, but he let the place go to hell and he was judged by all the middle managers and bank tellers and school teachers and legal secretaries in our 'hood for that. Go ahead and scream obscenities at the top of your lungs, fine, but MOW YOUR DAMN LAWN YOU ANIMAL.

It's interesting.  I remember when I was a kid you'd ride your bike around and it was not at all uncommon to hear people arguing.  The last time I heard someone yelling here, it was our freaky neighbors who were animal hoarders and were evicted and the house had to be burned down because it was a biohazard.  The one sister used to get pissed off at the pear tree in their back yard around 11:00 at night and scream incoherently at it for awhile.  That's been eight or nine years ago now.  The house is gone, the people are gone, the pear tree is gone.  

It seemed like a nice tree to me.  I don't know what her problem was with the thing.  But man, that tree  used to piss her off something fierce.  She had a whole fuck of a lot to say to that tree, and it was very, very loud, and went on until she was just screaming hoarsely at it, bellowing and making loud animal noises.  

That got old pretty quick.  Yeah, I called the police. There's limits.  Howling at a pear tree at 11 p.m. is a limit that I had and I thought it was pretty reasonable.  No regrets.