Monday, May 31, 2010

Mt. St. Helens

I remember reading about it a few years after Mt. St. Helens erupted. I was in elementary school. You remember the "Weekly Reader"?

People who lived through it have some amazing stories to tell - there was a lot of innocent death, as my former editor, who won a Pulitzer for the coverage, told me.

I remember an argument with literally everyone in the newsroom arguing except me - over whether to spell out "Mount" or write "Mt." in a headline. I don't remember what everyone decided on eventually, but I thought, "What a fucking ridiculous argument!"

I finally went there today - more than 30 years later, the place still has a hazy, haunted, barren look. It reminded me of T.S. Elliot's poem, "The Wasteland."

It was in the 30s 4,000 feet up. Snow!

It was so foggy that we couldn't see much, but it was still breathtaking, eerie. The air almost seemed to glow.

We froze our asses off, but it was worth it. (And no, my hair did not cooperate, so please don't look at it.)

It was - well, the word that comes to mind is magnificent. I'm not a big fan of the great outdoors, but this was just amazing.

Our friends from NYC were visiting and we took some pics along the warmer bits of the drive. Are they cute or what?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What it's all about

A friend of mine who was in the service (and asked to be anonymous) shared a story of experiences while stationed in the Philippines...and I wanted to share with you, in honor of Memorial Day.

My thanks to all who have served and most likely suffered miserable pay, miserable food, and miserable treatment when you came back.

I come from a peace-loving family of veterans, incidentally.


Anyway, the buses. I believe they were called "rabbit buses." I'm not sure why. They were red schoolbus-type affairs, and I can't recall if they had no windows or if the windows were simply always down in the tropical climate. They have ferocious rains there sometimes, and I am thinking there had to BE windows, or you might drown on the way, if the skies opened. People brought chickens with them, it's true, and anything else that needed transporting.

Any time the bus stopped in these little villages, kids would come up to the windows selling soda pop, hot bread (which I want to say was called "pan de sol", but I may have that's been a long time), which was to die for delicious, and whatever else. You just told the kid what you wanted, he would run off and return with it and you forked your pesos through the open window and there you were!

At some stops, the men would all go to one side of the bus and pee, right there at the side of the road. It was pretty disgusting to my American eyes, lol. And if you were a woman, well, I guess you just hold it til you get there. And as I said, as the bus went through the mountains, depending which side of the bus you were on, you could look out the window and see a tremendous drop, mountainsides covered over with dense foliage, going down down down, and no guardrail. If someone came the other way, the bus and the other vehicle had to very carefully creep past each other on the narrow road. Wild stuff!

I don't recall this happening with the buses, but once i took a ferry with a friend to another island. The ferry came to the dock and WHOOSH!, everybody just lept into it. My friend and I were the only ones standing on the dock! But back to the bus rides...

You would go through these little poverty-stricken villages, where people lived in shacks and there was just nothing, but there would be a beautiful, ornate Catholic church! In Manila there were cathedrals to take your breath away. Spanish influence. Manila was amazing. It had tall modern skyscrapers, elegant restaurants and hotels, but also had a slum section painted entirely--every stick--in pastel yellow paint. I stayed at a bed-and-breakfast, which is different that they are here. No frills, just a place to sleep and put your bags, in somebody's house. It was nice, clean, but not like they are here, where you go there as a destination for a weekend.

I went to an Italian restaurant in Manila, which was excellent, and after you finish your meal, the waiter brings you a marker, and you can write something right on the wall! The entire walls were covered in writing! Every so often they just paint it over and start again. It was fun!

As of 1975-6 when I was there, people still remembered WWII and would call any American serviceman "Joe" for G I Joe. In Manila, the college type young people sneered at us, but in the countryside, we were heroes. I went to see a then-current movie about the battle of Midway, at the base theater, and the Philipinos in the audience would all cheer like crazy whenever a Jap plane went down. After all, they had been occupied by the Japanese, and none too kindly, just thirty years before.

There were these little tribesmen there. They had a name, but to my surprise, I can't summon it now. They were extremely short, quite aboriginal looking. Anyway, apparently they had been of great help to MacArthur during the war, and so were still receiving special favors and rights on the base in the 70s. We didn't interact with them, they were pretty silent, at least around us. But we instinctively respected them.

The Navy base not far away, called Subic Bay (sp?) was on the water, naturally, and was beautiful. here is something I never saw before or since in my life, and likely never will. There were boats under the bridges, with several girls in each one, trying to hook a Navy man for the night. They would call up to the guys passing over the bridge, and if he was interested, I guess they made arrangements somehow.

The city outside Clark Air Base was called Angeles City, and bore the nickname, "The Wild West Of The East." It was almost nothing but bars, hotels for prostitutes and their marks (five dollars for the night), and souvenir type shops where you were expected to barter, and places to eat. Like some sort of sleazy Disneyland for airmen. It was major, major culture shock for this little soul, and I hated it. The girls were looking for husbands to take them to the U.S. with them, and in fact, something like thirty percent of all single first-timers got married during the fifteen month tour. Me, I drank. A lot.

My best friend had a pretty young wife at home in Texas, but he was a real rake. It got so that his cast-offs had become my friends by the time he was done with them, and I spent many an hour listening to them afterward. Those girls didn't have friends, unless it was each other. To the servicemen, they were amusements. Some of them had actually been brought to Angeles City by their mothers, and told to make money for the family in the countryside, who had nothing. Anyway, I have very few positive memories of that place (as opposed to the rest of the country), but I am glad for those friendships. I needed them and so did the girls.

Well anyway. That was a long time ago. I did learn a deep appreciation for what I've got, after seeing the poverty those people lived with. When i hear people here complaining because their car is five years old, I want to shake them. We have it made, here. I found out how much I could miss real (not powdered) milk, and McDonald's french fries. I found out what is really meant by "jungle." My word, things grew fast and thick over there! There was a hill in the middle of the air base that they would burn off every several weeks, rather than try to manage the vegetation. I learned how unbelievably hard it can rain in that part of the world. I mean, sheets. I rode in jeepneys, which are taxi cabs made from old WWII jeeps and held together with duct tape and a prayer. They always had the cabbie's name and a statue of Jesus in the front. Strangely, I learned something about music and books there! The base library had records, not many, but I discovered Tim Hardin, John Hammond and Fred Neil while I was over there. My interest in the Beats had begun in high school, and I checked out William Burrough's book "Naked Lunch." It's about his heroin addiction, among other things. In the short time I had it, you wouldn't believe how many people asked me if it was porn. Good grief.

When I arrived home, having been in the Philippines from October 1975 until January 1977, I quite literally kissed the ground of the good ole USA.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Haiku

I got a ticket
the citation number starts
with the letters "HA."

(I couldn't make this up. City of Portland, fuck you!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two guys who made my day

Two guys made my day - an otherwise negative day that included a near accident, a parking ticket, and a $500 million budget hole in our state, which means cuts to our constituency - much better.

I am rarely speechless - but Mac, whose real name I didn't even know until today, made a $69 donation so I hit my fundraising goal! I can't thank him enough. (Yes, my blog friend, I know you said I didn't have to thank you, but I do. I'm still in awe.)

As for guy #2, I was also - well, I melted, basically - when I got this note at work today, enclosed with 3 $2 bills and two pennies:

I wrote him a letter:

Dear Oscar,

Thank you so much for your nice note and your gift of $6.02. We will let the team know.

I am sorry that you didn't get to come to the walk, but it was very nice of you make the donation.

Thanks again!


PS Your handwriting is much nicer than mine, even though I am much older than you. If you ever give lessons, please let me know!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Despite 50 degree, rainy weather, the event was a great success yesterday - 1,900 people showed up (300 more than last year) and we are about $18,000 ahead in fundraising online (don't know about cash/checks turned in yet) than we were the entirety of last year. (We're still accepting donations until July 23.)

Only $69 to go until I reach my fundraising goal of $1,500 - so here's hoping one of my perverted friends will help!

I had awesome volunteers and it was the smoothest time I've done the event...lots of thank-yous going out tomorrow, and thank-you phone calls.

Today, however, I'm *trying* not to keep checking work e-mail and relax some. I went out and got a manicure (which I only do about once a year - usually after this event), and now my nails are jade green. Just in time for a meeting at a hospital Wednesday ;)

In the meantime, Lucky is showing me how to relax...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Down into the rabbit hole

Just like Alice in Wonderland, I've disappeared into event week most of this week in preparation for the event Sunday. Unless I get hit by a bus, I will be much more relaxed by late Sunday afternoon, when it's all done.

Thanks so much, by the way, to my fellow bloggers who have made donations and supported me!
Green Tea
Darth Weasel


Mike D

There's still time if you have $5 or $10 extra bucks.

But anyhow, I'm not the only one in this family who has taken to hiding out lately...we picked up a very cool retro dresser (I'm guessing it was made in the 1960s) and my cat Lucky loves hiding under it. Those are his huge rabbit feet (I swear he is part rabbit) sticking out from under it.

When I was little, I used to hang out and read in the small, boxy space under the headboard of my bed. Everyone knew where I was - but somehow it was fun to hide there anyhow.

How about you? Any favorite hiding places?

Monday, May 17, 2010

What would you do with 5 days in New York?

My brother B (who is 14 going on 40) and I are going to NYC in June. Among other things, I can't wait to see Mike D! (Mike, I hope neither one of us gets hit by a UFO or a mac truck before then, or else I'll be super pissed off.)

He has, believe it or not, been there several times before. I also used to live there (I went to college in NYC.) Since he has not, as of yet, given me a list of things he wants to do/see, I e-mailed him and told him that I assume he wants to do the following:

Trips to:

1. Victoria's Secret
2. Shoe stores
3. the knish stand (he doesn't eat them)

No I made more suggestions:

4. Shop at discount sock outlet stores in Queens

5. Go to an all-year Halloween supply store. I'll pick the tackiest costume I can find, and wear it every day on the trip.

6. Visit the museum of the history of poodles.

7. Go to a 48-hour, nonstop French film festival.

Still no reply (giggles on the phone, however), so my dad made some suggestions:

"B likes all of these," he wrote, "and asked if he could also do Tree Chopping in Central Park, Ride the Subway to Albany and see the Capital, Take Pictures with the Senior Hookers in Times Square (age 55+), and go to New York's best Comic Book Store which oddly enough, is located in Providence, Rhode Island."

I told my dad that because he's 60, he qualifies for the senior discount with the hookers.

Then Mr. RK came up with a further list:

"Don't forget the all nude Broadway adaptation of "Cocoon", the world famous Long Island Badger races, the "Swim the Hudson River and earn a dollar" ride, and catch the world premier Ang Lee movie "Piggyback Mountain" starring Edward Norton and Big Bird."

So, what do you think? What would you do with 5 days in NYC?

Friday, May 14, 2010

More things I would like to know

Pardon the lack of posting this week - we're gearing up (and by "we," I mean "me")for our biggest event of the year, which is on the 23rd. Between that, my new tattoo, and some sunshine after a really long winter (there are still bare trees here, and until 2 weeks ago it was still getting down into the 30s at night), my brain is, shall we say, mushy. (By the way, here's proof that there is spring here - I took this picture last weekend out in the Columbia River Gorge.)

However, this doesn't mean there haven't been things I want to blog about - including questions about where some expressions come from.

Expression # 1: "Happy as a clam."
Um, what? Are clams happier than other animals? I mean, they get cooked, split open and scraped out, then eaten. Or am I missing something?

Expression # 2: "You're telling me."
No, really? Was that a trick question?

Expression # 3: "Safe as houses."

Last time I checked, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, mudslides and other natural disasters could make houses very unsafe!

Expression # 4: "Snug as a bug in a rug."
Really. You tell me.

Expression # 5: "Drunk as a skunk"

Yes, it rhymes. But are they out there having margaritas after work?

In closing, my great-grandmother (who lived to be 99, and died my junior year in high school) always used to say, among other things, "Haste makes waste," and "Talk is cheap." We did not find out until several years after her death that to a select few, she followed that last expression with "It takes money to buy good whisky!"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tattoo me

Brownie points if you get that reference...I know Fireblossom will!

After more than six years of debating what to get for a third (and probably final) tattoo, I got this one. I'd show you a real picture but the inside of my ankle is all wrapped up right now.

My two other tattoos are also easily covered. Which is funny, because unknowing people have made comments like, "I can't understand why people get tattoos, can you?"

While I was there the tattoo artist also touched up the star for free. It's the second time that stubborn little star has had to be filled in again.

The new one is in Tibetan characters, which I liked because my Apache ancestors were traced to Tibet.

The meaning:

snying rje

Compassion (snying rje): the wish to free all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering (negatives actions and ignorance). It is complementary with altruistic love (the wish that all beings may find happiness and the causes of happiness), with sympathetic joy (which rejoices of others qualities) and with equanimity which extends the three former attitudes to all beings, whether friends, strangers or enemies.

A good reminder, anyhow.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A little magic

OK, not magic - a story about how a kind-hearted teacher inspired a talented boy who happens to have a disability.

Had she not taken the time and initiative with this six-year-old budding photographer, who knows what he - and we - might have missed out on?

Be encouraging - be positive and motivate those who might need it. You are probably helping them more than you know.

I have no images to go with this, so I'll post some that Mr. RK has taken. His mom took that nifty one of him at the top of the post.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The things we do for friends, part 2

A good friend whose mother is not so nice asked me yesterday, "Do you know of any Mother's Day cards that say, 'Happy Mother's Day, You're a Man-Eating Bitch'?"

I didn't...but between Mr. RK and photoshop, here 'tis.

Just in case you know anyone who needs it!

Fortunately, I don't need stepmom got earrings and Mr. RK's mom is coming over Sunday for pasta.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Things we're willing to do for friends

So a friend of mine who is very hard worker, but went to work for an entrepreneur who turned out to be a greedy, crazy bastard (sorry, that's redundant) lost her job last week.

I'm sure she'll get a better one where she is happier, but it still pisses me off, so I have contemplated:

- Making a dartboard with his face on it.

- Pouring my own urine over his car.

- Signing him up for BDSM magazines.

I'd merely be an instrument of karma, you see.

Things friends and I have done before out of loyalty or because we were a bit pissed off:

- Peed on the door handle of someone's car.

- Signed someone up for a sex toy newsletter.

- A yard forking (Mr. RK did this, I just learned.)

- Put epoxy resin on someone's door handle. The kind that won't dry. Ever.

- Put refried beans on someone's door handle.

- Posed as an Indian Bible sales team and called a friend's manager at 3 a.m. to sell Bibles over the phone. (This was before called ID. Again, Mr. RK's friends.)

Manager: "Why are you calling so late?"
Mr. RK's friend: "The good Lord's work is never done!"

Any other suggestions?