I had four bawdy bellydancers in my living room last night after class. We're working on a big group choreography and I'm the only one with enough floor space in my house to fit five swirly girlies for practice in formation.

We shimmied our shoulders until we were numb. Here's the thing about a shoulder shimmy: the shoulders move front to back alternately, and the rest of it all goes along for the ride. It's a structural thing-- you can't shake the breasts unless you move the shoulders.

Practice was very helpful and instructive; we each took a turn sitting out to watch the rest of the troupe swing and turn in a primal rhythm blended of swaying arms and lifted energy, grounded and centered by the tall wild redhead in the middle, flanked by four blonds. And yes we're all damn sexy. We're all goofy, too. A group of people who are highly body-aware, and relate to each other in terms of body movement, often tend to find comedy in the physical sense. This is not to say we don't all appreciate funny commentary or quick wit, but mockingly groping oneself or the comedic positioning of one's hands is cause for great belly laughter. With a few belly-button jewels and some barb-wire tattoos jiggling.

Between my early-evening rehearsal with R and Jesi, dance class, and then choreography practice, I must have danced a total of five hours last night. I can feel it in my thighs. And I have that song in my head I won't even attempt to sing or hum, it's too intricate and I just thank goodness it's a decent song. I catch myself doing shoulder-shimmies at my desk but everyone here thinks I'm eccentric already, and I just saw my name listed as instructor for beginning bellydancing at the community college so I feel like shimmying. Watch it or I'll hip-check you into the water-cooler.

S and I are headed south for the holiday; we have an eleven hour drive ahead of us. I hope the pass through the mountains is open, and I'm actually looking forward to this trip.

Remember to love one another. Give thanks for the simple things, like love and food and shelter. And shoulder shimmies.


I tied one on last night and passed out. This is not normal behavior for me, especially on a Monday night. When I got off work yesterday we went to the store. We bought a fancy-looking bottle of wine, originally $25 and marked down to $9, so we could not pass it up. That's our system of buying wine; we find the best deal within the price range.

After dinner, S listened to an old record of Southern songs, stuff recorded in the 1930s by Alan Lomax, including some old man playing, on a mouth harp, "The Old Grey Mare Came Tearing Out Of The Wilderness," which was Abraham Lincoln's campaign song. I learned all about it, oh yes. The other side of the record had fiddle songs, most of which have been lost and forgotten. These inspired S to play his own fiddle, and all his recent practice is certainly paying off; he always sounded great, but he's finally working out the rhythm of the bow. The dogs don't sigh and roll their eyes at him anymore.

We should have known, since the wine label blabbed on about the etched glass art and the art gallery and the artist and about how the wine was in the bottle but didn't actually say anything about the wine. It was not very good wine. In fact, the $2.50 Merlot from the Argentine vinyards established with Spanish stock in the 1500s kicks its ass and we should have just bought four bottles of that stuff rather than the watery somewhat-bitter legless bouqeut-less so-called "Oregon Pinot Noir" from some winery up near Salem. I do not think it is what they say it is. But it sure got to me. Didn't drink enough water, maybe, and not enough starchy foods, the wine went straight to my head and I passed out.

I certainly don't recall the things S told me I said. He found me around 10 o'clock curled on the bed looking pale, and tried to get me under the covers since I was cold, and I allegedly told him, "Keep playing that music without the words." And then I guess I said, "Don't touch me." Which is not something I would say to him, and I think it was probably because I was afraid if he touched me I would wake up enough to feel sick, and be sick. Which I hate.
But I feel great today, so go figure.

I'm sticking with the red wine I know from now on. No more fucking Chardonnay, no more skank super-discount "Pinot Noir." Give me red peasant wine.
Dust settles in my hair and on my skin. It sticks to my eyelashes and I can feel it on my face. I breath shallow and slow, and squint my eyes against the grainy flecks.
I sweep and clean, polish and smooth the surfaces, wipe the dull dusty coating from the wood.

The remains of stars and humans and trees, ashes in the wind. Where does it go, all the dust?

I know where what I sweep, in the act of sweeping, the tidying of my dwelling, the collecting of the dust with the sweeper and the dustpan, I know it will all go into the compost pile at the edge of the yard. Glass shards and dried out leaves, hair and skin, garden dirt and pocket lint ground into dust.

What does it become? From it we come and to it we go? Molded from clay and water only to dry out and disintegrate, blow away on the wind.

Boot heels leave marks in dust.

The dust on the moon never blows.

The dustbowl made farmers into refugees, scattered like dust, lost and discarded and swept under the rug.

Beat the rugs and the drapes, wipe it off the wood surfaces, blow it off the books and the bottles and the plants.

Old houses are full of dust, old dreams, old sorrows, old conceits and old happinesses.

Dust from old laughter drifts from old rafters, blown loose by the wind, tiny motes that reflect and refract like prisms in sunlight, made into laughter again, seen but not heard.

Dust has no memory of its previous form. Dust has no memory, so we must remember to dust.


Saturday morning dawned cold and overcast with heavy grey clouds. I dressed, brushed my hair and teeth, and headed for the dance studio. I arrived fifteen minutes early to the big bright studio above the furniture store, all windows on one side and glass on the other, at least fifty feet of running room and high-polished oak floors.

Eugene's sleepy downtown hadn't stretched and yawned yet; plumes of steam rose from the roofs, from the sewer grates. No cars passed on the street below. I waited for the students and worked on the choreography; very basic moves, simple transitions, no fancy stepwork, and a lot of repetition.

I expected ten students at least but only two showed up, which was fine. It gave me more time to explain and break down the moves, and talk about the instruments, the music, and choreography in general. We had fun and by the end of class they could do it. They didn’t like the four-count spin (and initially I had a sixteen- count spin, but we improvised) but they did like the shoulder and hip accent on the short tabla drum solo. I love catching a drum beat; it's like part of my body represents the sharp quick sound of the drum. I've seen dancers do some amazing things with drum solos; sometimes they act as thought the beats were jerking them around, others work it to look like their bodies are responsible for the beats. It always requires strength, timing, and muscle control. And beads and coins help. Boom tak-a boom.

After class I returned home and collected S for some errands. We visited second-hand shops but the only treasure we found was a red star sticker at the feminist bookstore, sculptures of female anatomy and cheesy artsy fartsy greeting cards everywhere, plus some halfway decent literature. I took him out for hamburgers and beer, and then we did some grocery shopping. The store where we like to shop had a special sale for Oregon coast Dungeness crab, and we picked a big one. Crab meat is always best just after a cold snap, like the arctic storm we just endured. Last winter S went to the coast and I told him he'd better not come home without catching crabs, which made him laugh.

We also bought a decent bottle of wine, since for some reason the store always clears out the previous year's vintage to make room for the coming stock. Sounds counter-intuitive (clearancing "old" wine?) to me but I am keeping my mouth shut and loading those five-dollar-discounted bottles into my basket, thank you kindly. Dinner was sinfully good. And afterwards we had good clean fun.

We made soap.

Every year my office has "craft day" and someone brings supplies for everyone to make something. Last year we made bath salts and the year before we made little bear ornaments. I offered (yeah, my big mouth) to bring soap-making supplies for this year to have a fun day with all those crafty ladies in the office. But just to remind myself how it worked, I decided to use up a Neutragena bar and make sure I could remember all the steps. This is glycerine soap; we're not talking about Fight Club lye and rendered fat and dangerous stuff. I melt small chunks of glycerine soap in the microwave, add coloring, fragrance, and then pour it into a soap mold.

S wanted to make more soap, but making soap is dependent upon supplies, and we had used all the available glycerine until he remembered the reject soap I made last year. Some red, some green, and I had poured them into an ice tray hoping they'd be cute little soaps but they just looked like I had poured them into an ice tray. He chopped up both red and green chunks, insistent that brown soap was acceptable, like oatmeal soap or old-style cake soap. And at first it was a rather interesting sage green color, but when I stirred it I noticed big chunks of red that hadn't dissolved, so we used one of the gargoyle molds and it looked like green skin and blood clots. Delightfully disgusting.
S decided to stir it up and add more red. And then he added more green. And then I stopped him and told him he was making nasty dog-shit colored soap and we laughed so hard we shook the walls. There is no removing the dye from the soap. It was poop brown. The whole "Oh well, we'll just use it in the kitchen" was funny, too. Dog shit on the counter. Yick. We made another gargoyle but in retrospect we should have used the rose soap mold.

Cleaning up soap-making mess is easy... because it's soap. Just rinse and dry. Simple.

Sunday I did laundry, preparing for our trip to California on Wednesday. He cleaned the living room, and we moved the couch. After sweeping and vacuuming, while I was folding laundry, he changed into a nasty old t-shirt, holes in the back and busted at the seams, and a pair of sweats. He stood in front of me, puffed out his chest with fists on hips and said in his best superhero voice, "I am Wax Man." I very nearly peed myself.

He waxed our living room floor, which is no small thing; it's L-shaped and about 30 feet long by 20 feet wide, and he did it on his hands and knees. With an old wool sock. Wax Man, indeed. We took turns buffing it. I'm going to use a magic marker to draw a big honkin' "W" on his ratty old t-shirt.

Funny man. Fun weekend.


My dear one is in bed with a head cold. He's a heap. When I got home yesterday he met me at the door, all sleepy and snuffly and shuffly, and excited about Kurt Vonnegut's interview on alternative radio. The Dresden survivor talked brass tacks about Marx and Socialism and inspired S to wear his red star pin on his lapel. And despite him feeling under-the-weather, after filling him full of chicken soup we ventured into the night to hear Grasshopper.

They shook the pub, rocked the foundation, knocked me out of breath. It's been a while since they performed, and they've refined it, honed it and sharpened it so it hits you between the eyes, resounds in your chest, makes you want to wiggle your hiney and tap your toes.

Grasshopper plays the best songs, and only a few covers, but even those they made into something new. JJ likes to sing sad songs that touch you just right between your heart and your throat and if I'm not careful she could make me cry. Which is somewhat ironic because I know most of all she wants people to get up and dance.

Tebone is a fine songwriter and a true musician, and he has quite a few tricks up his sleeve. I love his songs Gaugin, Count on Me, and The Golden Mean. The lyrics he writes are delightfully existential without being sappy, and the tempo rolls them through and back again. I had called the band "country swing" but they're definitely a rock band with a full solid sound and a sweet honey singing the blues.

Most indelible in my mind is one song that gave me a wild feeling last night. I wrote some lyrics for them a while ago, and Tebone put those words to music.
And they played it last night.
It's not the first time I've heard them play it, but it is the first time the hep cat girl in glasses at the table behind me said to her droogies, "It's the song!" and rattled the empty beer glasses on the table, shook the bench with their excitement, sang along for the whole song. I didn't know what to think. I don't think I breathed the whole duration of the song, which Tebone calls Keep the Time. I guess the flushed cheeks and tingling fingers is embodiment of delight mixed with a touch of pride, but if it is pride at all, then it's similar to a honey bee pollenating a flower to make fruit.

I think I just called myself a bee.

Incredulous I turned to S and said, "They like it. They like that song." He laughed at me. Later I learned that the cool cats at the table beside us take studio mixing classes from Grasshopper's drummer, and they've been working on the song in class. Which explains how they know all the words. I wrote those words. And I'd be hard-pressed to remember them all. The experience flattened me out. Boom, there I am.

One of the phrases in the song includes "come on we've got some Cain to raise." After the show I climbed up on stage to hug my goodbyes and I mentioned to Tebone how S had talked about "raising Cain," and how he had found the true phrase to be "razing cane," like cane breaks in the South, big boggy fields of cane that gets cut to the ground. Interesting how the term gained a separate and different meaning through common speech, unaffiliated with the context, or the written term.

Tonight I have to work on a lesson plan for tomorrow's two hour class I'm sub-teaching. I asked S for advice, since he spent a year teaching photography and journalism to "at-risk youth" aka juvenile delinquents, and his suggestion was to "work their asses." But the ladies in the beginning bellydance class range from hot little 15 year old bodies to plump great-grandmothers, and the one thing in common is their desire to take a fun class and maybe learn something while doing it. I know I could work their asses, I could make them shimmy until they dropped, but I think instead I'll teach a simple choreography to some traditional Middle Eastern music; it's less than three minutes long and I could do it in my sleep. It even works as a duet. I just have to figure out from R's notes what moves she has taught them and go from there.

Right now the sun is shining and hail is pelting the windows. My mother-in-law says it's the devil beating his wife.

Let the storm blow wilder now
I love the way you ask me how...


The snow stopped in the evening and this morning all that remained were small icy white patches in the hollow places.

The sky feels luminous, white and icy blue. I walked to the river and in between the trees there is ice on the bright red fallen leaves that look like blood under glass.

Here comes winter, and she didn’t creep along like she did last year, she didn’t tease us with promises of wool and plumed puffs of breath. She opened the valves full throttle and made no pretenses or niceties.

I can feel the cold air bounce off my skin.
It’s 35 degrees and raining.

Tonight we’re headed out to Sam Bond’s Garage to see the Grasshopper play and to hear the lovely JJ sing her soulful songs. She has a voice that reminds me of honey, of the ocean, of a flock of birds. The band hasn’t been playing for a month and I have missed hearing their brand of Buddhist country-swing. Tebone says they’ve been in the studio working hard, and I am looking forward to getting my grubby little hands on their new cd.

On this coming Saturday I am substitute-teaching for R’s beginning Middle Eastern dance class, and I’ve been thinking all day about the two hours I’ll need to fill. She mentioned I might teach a choreography, since I know a few and they’re not her cup of tea. I covered her class for her before, and enjoyed it, but I always have worries about teaching. The class is fun, and it is supposed to be fun, and it’s my job to make it fun. It’s going to be cold and rainy and dark outside and twenty women will be looking at me backwards in a mirror, imitating my every move. Last time I came dangerously close to bursting into hysterical laughter at the whole “Simon-says” element. Put your hands on your head, put your hands on your mouth, pat your tummy and walk backwards…
No, I won’t. I’ll behave.


Clay blefines blogs.

Sex Hamlets.

And hello to those brown-eyed handsome men in California.


It's snowing.

Big fat flakes.

It rained all morning, rained hard and sideways, and S & I walked four blocks to go eat lunch and got soaking wet.

At one o'clock the rain turned to snow, white northern air pushing down and swirling with flurries. I did not expect it, since yesterday felt balmy and wet.

Throughout the office people are sing-songing, "It's snow-ing!" and it is great cause for excitement, people talking about hot-buttered rum and the woodstove and long-johns.

It is snowing and the air temperature continues to drop. Some say we'll get three inches, some say it won't stick, that the rain will return, that it will all be gone by tomorrow.

I'm an optimist.

And it's snowing.

Night comes early these days. It was dark already when I arrived at R's big crooked white house, where she lives in a small upstairs flat. Jesi in black rode up on her bicycle as I walked to the porch, and I waited for her on the steps.

Jesi is tall. Have I mentioned Jesi is tall? I stood on the bottom step so she wouldn't have to lean over to hug me hello and we were just about the same height. She's slender and tall, legs like a country mile, and loose like she has no bones, just smooth skin over smooth long muscles, no definition, no strength, but heavy like water. She uses her height and length of bone rather than her strength when she moves and I forget she's only 20, she has so much gravity of character and of presence. She's flexible as a snake. I think she grew too much, too fast; she has stretch marks on her back and belly that look like pale flames gracing her torso. She wears big sterling hoop earrings and tiny little tops without a trace of self-consciousness, and so avoids looking tacky or cheap, and her dark eyes discourage unwanted advances from men.

The truth is, she's shy, and mumbles in a sweet soft voice, and loves to be loved like all of us. She had a big black garbage bag in her bicycle basket that she carried up to R's apartment.

R was in her kitchen when we climbed the stairs, stretching her back. She is like a cat, strong and quick and very feline in her mannerisms.

Jesi & I dumped the contents of the black bag out onto the linoleum floor, and I emptied my backpack as well. Great piles of silk and rayon and velvet, sheer veils and coins and beads strung on soft cloth of gemstone colors, cloth the color of garnet and topaz and lapis lazuli and amethyst, and lots and lots of black.

We pawed through it and made soft murmuring sounds of delight as our fingertips brushed the velvet and silk, and it all smelled faintly of incense and rose water. We tried on numerous possible articles for our performance costumes; anyone peeking through the window would surely have gotten quite a show.

Since R & I look similar enough to be confused for sisters, for the choreography we primarily dance on each side of Jesi. There are many moves when we play with the height and body structure differences, but R & I generally work as mirror images while Jesi provides the lynchpin to the dance. As such, R & I wanted similar costumes for the performance, and we decided on big full tiered velvet skirts that flare out at the slightest provocation of a turn. Hers is wine-colored, mine plum, and the tops we chose are long-sleeved, low-shouldered, and black. Jesi can wear anything she wants so long as the colors don't clash with ours. She was talking about a dainty little top and a big black skirt she had wanted to buy anyway, and this would be adequate justification for the expense.

We pulled on our possibles and went through the choreography a few times. It feels wonderful to know the moves well enough that we can just relax and enjoy dancing together. I think by December we'll have it not only perfected but be able to add coordinated attitude, confidence, and smiles.

Jesi left for a night of movies and R & I went to class, which these days is strictly rehearsal-time for our big winter show. Each winter before she leaves for Cairo, our dance instructor likes to put on a bellydance extravaganza for all her students. It's usually much fun, lots of lovely bare-bellied ladies wearing kohl eyeliner and coin belts and beads and long skirts, drinking beer or wine and playing with big swords and silk veils.

The days will continue to get shorter. Winter follows hard.

We tell stories. This is what we do, and why we are. We have been created to create. We tell narratives to ourselves and others. Often these are subconscious; we see a woman dancing and maybe we don't even know we're imagining dancing with her, or being her. We see a fast car and we consider some long unknown ribbon of highway, great adventures, interesting places.

The desire to create stories is woven into our souls; it generates aspirations, it forms ideals. It often is the driving factor in our felt need to possess physical objects-- a certain pair of shoes or a jet ski or a new spoon would make life different.

I like the adage "people before things" and "can't buy happiness" and I see a difference between creating stories, and thinking the world will change for the better if I just buy a new stereo.

But dreaming up narratives isn't just about physical things that spark our imagination. We do it when we dream about falling in love, or we consider a new job, or think about moving to a new state. It involves the notion that change is for the better, always. We are bombarded by constant flux: in fashion, in advertising, in the extra-marital affairs of celebrities who probably have their own little stories about a reclusive cabin in the woods somewhere.

Narrative stories fill our lives. We make up stories about ourselves and about other people. Who are you really? And who is that man on the bench wearing the black coat and the shabby brown wool sweater, looks like he hasn't shaved in two days, probably (ahh, see?) smells like bourbon and pipe tobacco. He's waiting for someone? He's resting before he walks home after a wild night? He looks handsome in a rugged kind of way and maybe he was an architect or an electrician or a professor, maybe a writer, maybe he's making up a story about you, right now...

It's the speculation, the human interest in the past and the desire to know what the future may hold, our hope to make some mark on the face of time, to remember, to create, and here we are, thinking the eternal "what if...?"


Ummm, okay. New comments thingie.
Happy-polyloggies to those who had their previous comments, ummm, tossed into the void.


A blustery front blew down out of Alaska, all cold and grey, hard like chiseled granite.
And in true Oregon fashion we went strolling in the big woods.

R called Saturday afternoon and asked if we were interested in hiking with her. We drove up past Fall Creek Reservoir, past the damned dam, past the old homes owned by people who like to split their own wood, up into the big woods. Trees too big for the three of us joining hands to encircle. Moss on every horizontal surface, ripples and rills of water on the narrow steep path.

The wind made the big sword ferns wave their fronds at us and blew the rain in our faces. We scaled the cliff above the ravine and could see the big creek below like a black opal, like something from a dream, a dark shadow punctuated by brilliant orange and red leaves floating on the surface like kindred spirits.

We were quiet, we were quick.

We took care to not slip on the green sheer of rock and the slickery wet big maple leaves, leaves so big we could have worn them for hats. We sat for a while by the water, each still and quiet in our own thoughts, watching the water churn in the rapids and then swirl down into a great deep pool and we couldn't see the dark bottom. I could see some leaves caught beneath the surface of the water, small red vine maple leaves, twisting and turning and plunging then rising in the current.

I sat for a long time in the rain and watched the splash of raindrops on the surface of the still pool, I watched the currents deep in the shallow rapids, I looked across the stream at the opposite steep bank, sheer cliffs and crimson and cadmium bushes and the sentinel firs, the draping hemlocks, the silvery cedars with their red bark. S wandered upstream and found a possible fort, in the break of a big boulder and a fallen fir that towered above us five feet. It was a shady bottom, dark and dusty and dry. He said he didn't want to return home, although it was getting dark and dinner beckoned.

We walked slowly back to the car. It was dark before we returned to the main highway.

We had dinner plans with our tall thin friends who live in a tall thin house; they met us and we went for burgers and beer, and then back to our house to watch The Filth and the Fury, the Sex Pistols documentary that came out a few years ago. When S & I picked it out, the small mouse-like kid at the video store wriggled his mousy mouth at us and said the name out loud, like it was a dirty movie or something. He blinked his small, bespectacled shiny eyes and rolled the word "filth" around in his mouth like he had never spoken that word before and liked the way it fit.

It was a cool video, well done. When I was in junior high I had two guppies I named Sid Fishous and Nancy. Nancy ate Sid and then she jumped out of the bowl, and I always considered it my fault since I named them such fateful names.
I don't have guppies anymore.

Today has been craft day. S made great production of getting all his painting tools together and I made equal fuss with my velvet dance costume I've been making and we listened to Tom Waits all day long. The weather is whippy wind and cold air wild with rain, I can see the clouds out the window just swirling like water, and the tree branches have been shaking off their leaves in an incredible and unequaled stripping. The dark is falling, and I have reached the point when S is practicing his fiddle and I am typing this very sentence.
Caught up to myself, perhaps.
So that's all, for now.

Tonight will be a quiet dinner and woodstove fire to burn away the chill and some wine and a good book on the couch.


It all started with the fucking Chardonnay on Thursday night.

We had the white wine and we didn't have any red wine so we thought we'd try the white wine with the trout S had caught earlier. Actually I guess it started with catching the fish. He said the fishing trip was strange; some big annoying home-grown horsey woman who looked like she could wrestle a bear showed up and fished for an hour. She was one of those people with no internal dialogue, she talked constantly just under her breath, "tie the hook, clip the weight, get the... worm... and... there, now caaast, let out line... let it sink, close the bail...."

I wasn't there but I could see in my mind's eye the look of outrage and tongue-biting and exasperation on S's face. And when she left she took one of his fish he had set up on the bank. He had caught four nice trout and when he packed up to go there were only three.

So the fucking Chardonnay was sweet and smooth and chilly and good, and we drank the whole bottle like we usually do with red wine, and then after dinner I danced and S fiddled and we giggled like kids and for some reason decided to stay up until past midnight. When I awoke on Friday morning to the alarm, I thought my head had split wide open and my belly was flipping like a fish on the riverbank.

It's the fucking Chardonnay, said S, and told me about his Greek six-foot-six-inch Ancient History professor who one Monday in class told, in his heavy accent, about the artsy fartsy party he had attended, where they served him some Chardonnay. He did not want some fucking Chardonnay. He wanted some Chianti, some Red Peasant Wine. Of course S and all the other students were shocked and tickled by the professor calling it fucking Chardonnay, and I do believe they all learned a valuable lesson: if you have a party, and you want some fucking Chardonnay to serve to the guests, make sure you also provide some Chianti.

I called my work and left a message for my boss that I had woken up with a terrible headache, and I would be in an hour late. She called back in ten minutes and told me to stay home, have a nice weekend, my shift was covered. Well, okay. Twist my arm.

I slept until ten, when S patted my bottom and said, "Tebone will be here soon. We're taking the Victrola over to his studio to record some old music."

He made coffee and I showered, already feeling better but still shaky, disbelieving one bottle of fucking Chardonnay could screw my system so hard. No more fucking Chardonnay for me. Ever.

I emerged from the shower, drank coffee, ate breakfast and then when I was cleaning the plates, S came running into the kitchen whispering, "The PO-lice are here."

A knock at the glass door. I peeked and it wasn't the police, it's a pair of Mormon missionaries, and although my best friend and I once hid for ten minutes in the bathroom to avoid them when I was a child, her all the time saying, "They're trying to GETCHA,"
I recalled the few times I had successfully excused myself and gotten them off my porch.

So I half-opened the glass door, and the smooth talking one rattled on about what a beautiful day it was and do I know about Christ and all the wonderful things He did and that there is a further message for Christians for maybe ten minutes and I said, "You know, I stayed home sick from work today, and I am not up for talking. Thank you."

"Oh, but just one more second, Ma'am, I wish to tell you about our mission, and about the rewards of a life..."

At this point S comes barrelling out of the kitchen, saying, "The lady asked you politely to leave; 'just one more second'? I don't think so. You need to take your false prophet and your faulty doctrine and go. Now. Get off my porch!"

The two stood their ground, one saying, "Ours isn't faulty doctrine, sir!"

"GET GONE!" I had never seen S this way.

"You don't know about it..."

"I know my beliefs and I know you need to shoo, get going, get a move on," and he slammed the door.

But he didn't stop, oh no, the rant was just beginning. "Oh great they teach salesmanship, they're worse than vaccum salesman, 'Here, buy our God!' Sorry Mr Moroni-- how come it's 'mormon' when the angel was 'Moroni'? That sounds to me like they should be 'morons' -- but the God I believe in doesn't need salesman. They're not honest, they don't believe Christ is the Son of God, and their 'prophet' was 'martyred,' right? Because he was a philandering horse-theif who obviously slept with one too many daughters in the town so they hanged him! A man who stole horses and had six wives or whatever, gee whiz, what a great thing to found a religion on. It's not the doctrine of Christ and I didn't bid them Godspeed. Standing there preying on housewives and widows. It always feels like they're trying to getcha, just trying to getcha. My Dad brings them into his house and keeps them there until they start looking at their watches because he says that keeps them from talking to other people, and then he sends them on their way with some cleverly phrased thing about false prophets he hopes make them think, but it doesn't. They're slippery as snakes and you can't get a straight answer out of them. I'd rather talk to a Hari Krishna, I mean shit, at least they make an attempt to answer your questions, and try to talk honestly about their beliefs instead of just trying to convert you because then they get a little notch in their belt. That pisses me off."

And then Tebone drove up and saved me from my raised eyebrows.

We recounted the event and Tebone was amazed and amused. He and S chose records to take back to his place. We also took half an hour and watched Rikki Tikki Tavi, which he hadn't seen before. During the movie, D showed up to get his bike from our garage, and after the movie Tebone & S moved the Victrola into the bed of the pickup, which always strikes me as a strange visual, the beautiful spindly-legged wooden box in the bed of the rough dirty old brown pickup.

Everybody left, which was fine because I like my solitude and haven't had it in a while. I sewed, read, made mint tea, and cooked salmon chowder with carrots, potatoes, shallots and garlic, spinach, baked squash, chipotle peppers, and an avocado. It was delicious and very, very rich. Good with red red wine, not fucking Chardonnay.

I would have missed a very interesting day if I had gone to work.


The sun light reflecting off the bright red leaves of the pin oak outside the window casts a rosy hue to everything and reminds me of our first autumn in Eugene, six years ago.

When we first moved to Oregon we lived in a little old house with little old windows, multiple small sheets of glass set in cedar frames. The windows steamed up when we boiled water in the kitchen. The window glass was so old it had started to droop and ripple like water, and when it rained and the droplets ran down the panes it made the world look like a Monet painting. There was a carved mantle over the fireplace (which we couldn't use because the chimney was cracked).

The day we rented it, S bought an orchid for me and surprised me by having it sitting on the mantle when we got there after work. Our first night we moved only our futon mattress and the Victrola record player and had pizza with milk while we leaned against the wall and listened to old 78s. There were wood floors inside a monstrous living room with arched doorways and a coved ceiling. In the winter we slept in the front room because the bedrooms, on the north side of the house, were damp and cold and the bedroom carpet smelled like mildew.

Like all the houses in the neighborhood we had a double-sized lot with trees planted the same year the house had been built. We had a plum tree, a hazelnut, a cherry tree, a big old apple tree with three different kinds of apple grafted on, including pink lady apples and small red cooking apples and hard little green apples.

Behind the house our neighbors had a row of Port Orford cedars, which made for wonderful privacy and a relaxing view from our bedroom window. When it snowed that winter the cedars stood hushed and still, draped with white. When the wind whistled through, straight down from Alaska, the cedars churned their branches and shook and rocked side to side.

The big tree in the front yard was a crimson king maple, so named for the incredible year-round color. When the winter approached it turned from dark crimson to bright orange, like fire. It held onto their leaves as long as it could and then dumped them on the ground in a big blanket, like a strong graceful woman discarding an enormous heavy mink coat after whispered encouragement from a lover who wants her to stand there and be admired, naked and perfect in the half light of dusk.

I loved living in that little house, with its bright windows and breakfast nook and funny little bathroom sink. I loved that yard, with the herb garden and daisy patch and the tulips that came up in the spring, and especially I loved the crimson king.


Some days it just doesn’t work.

Some days you’re happy and you know it and you clap those hands way up high over your head.
Clap clap, like flamenco dancers, in time and coordinated and quick and dramatic on the thighs and then you do that stomping bullfighting move

clap-a-clap-a-clap CLAP CLAP CLAP clap-a-clap-a-clap

Hah, you think, all firey and nostrils flaring and your smile feels ferocious, more like you’re baring your teeth than grinning.

But then some days you lift those hands above your head and all they touch is low ceiling and gray soft gauze like abandoned cobwebs and you lack the ambition to push that crap out of the way.
You just want to shrug and say tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll lift my hands.

I had bad dreams last night after a rather unfulfilling dance class and ensuing silliness at home with some dance friends who came to have wine and silliness. I found myself grinning like an idiot, unable to get into the emotions, and also not caring whether it happened. Not unhappy but not fulfilling, either. So instead I threw myself into the dancing that came after the laughter, focused on hard precise motions, muscle isolations, hips and shoulders strong, keep the heels in, knees flexed, hands the terminus of the energy. Maybe I couldn’t clap hands but I could feel alive, and wait for the dawn.

Today started out grey and cloudy, like a white veil was muffling all the brilliant vermilions and crimsons of the trees.

About an hour ago the sun burned it all away like sheer parchment, bright and shining and the sunlight and the heat makes halos around all the trees. I think I can lift these hands high, and I think there will be no sorrow, nothing quenching the fire in my soul, nothing that makes me think tomorrow will be better. Clap them together and revel in the sting of palms connected, the staccato beat, the pull in my arms short and sharp and a real smile tickling the corners of my mouth.

The sky is blue.


Last night we picked out two movies to watch.
And Rikki Tikki Tavi.

I also found scribbles on a notepad from the last time R came for dinner, and we fell into ridiculousness like we often do, Tom Waits playing, S spouting about the fruit and veggies one might eat in North Africa, and R & I discussing the fine details of camels. I rode a dromedary once; they're very interesting animals.

On the legal pad I found she had scrawled "we fall into ridiculousness" in Spanish and then conjugated the verb because I asked her, in my inebriated state, to teach me some espanol, chica. I know enough Spanish (yes, just wrote "spinach" there, which illustrates my point) to get myself in trouble. R teaches Spanish to native speakers in her adult education classes. She's headed to Spain and Morocco in January and says she may attempt to find a job there if the opportunity arises.

She had brought a few travel books to show us where she's going, and to share some ridiculosidads with us. In her travel book about Morocco there are tips for bird watching, and we found this to be a great source of amusement:

To see birds in Morocco:
Dress like an Arab
Do not make sudden movements
Bring a pair of binoculars

Of course the "dress like an Arab" hint appeared directly across from a painting of an overly decorated sheik, complete with gold chains hanging off every appendage and sword in scabbard and multiple layers of multiple colored cloth. Ridiculez.

Rikki Tikki Tavi, written by Rudyard Kipling and narrated by Orson Welles, kicked the Oliver Stone-written (blah blah blah ad nauseum), Al Pacino-acted ("lemmeshring alladesewuhdsdagedda foldat Cooban ting, meng") Scarface's ass.
No contest.
Saturday morning I went to the dance studio to meet Jesi & R. S tagged along to provide input, and brought his camera if the opportunity presented itself to take pictures of us swirling, but he said the flourescent lighting was terrible.

It helped being able to use the space and the mirrors; R’s little kitchen has a big mirror but we can’t see all three of us in it when we practice there, and we can’t see our arms out to the side or above our heads, and often we can’t see our feet. S offered a few suggestions about the choreography, and both are points we had struggled with, where the music goes through a transition, there’s a

Boom boom boom boom

Boom boom boom boom

Boom boom boom boom


And then the melody picks up again. There are three Boom boom boom booms, and there are three of us, so we figured we each get a Boom boom boom boom to boom. With grace notes or whatever, like boom bada boom shimmy boom pause in pose, sassy-like, individually. And then all come together again when the melody picks up. S said no, looks like you all forgot what you’re supposed to be doing right there.

Other than that, we had him mesmerized, and he was impressed with our ingenuity and creativity. We done good, my swirly girlfriends and me.

Part of the reason S accompanied me on Saturday morning is because he & I had a fishing date at his recent favorite spot on the Middle Fork of the Willamette. Fishing regulations permit fishing in lakes only this time of year, but there is a series of dams on the Middle Fork that constitute as lakes. We parked on a small gravel access road and walked about a mile along the lakeside in the mist and cold, puffing like dragons along the leaf-covered path. We saw a large newt creep across the gravel in front of us. He was the same rusty red orange as the fallen leaves from the oaks and vine maple.

The colors of autumn always please me. Tree leaves change color when the temperature difference between night and day exceeds forty degrees, and when the night temps are below freezing. Since the sign at the gas station down the road said the temperature was 42 degrees and it was almost two in the afternoon, I can guess the night temperatures are downright chilly up there along the lake. Annual plants blackened and burned from the cold showed signs of previous frosts. One lone daisy crouched low to the ground.

The ferns were not bothered by the cold. Maidenhair ferns with their delicate black stems and feathery fronds rooted in the moss on the cliffs, the big sword ferns as tall as I stand, the more refined deer ferns and lady ferns, dark evergreen against the bright reds and oranges and yellows of fallen leaves.

We found an ideal place for fishing, a narrow spot not too far from the dam, which we could hear but not see. The water looked black and deep, and didn’t reflect much because the sky was dark and gray.

I caught a very nice trout, as long as my forearms and about as big around, on my third cast. We each caught one nice keeper, and a few smaller fish that we could have kept but didn’t want to be greedy. The weather was cold, and the barometer had changed since the last two days when S caught his limit of big fat trout. But we were not disappointed with our catch, and held hands whistling on the walk back to the car.

We had pork chops for dinner. Sometimes fish guts changes the appetite.

S had decided to smoke the trout by Sunday afternoon, and spent half the evening clattering around the kitchen mixing up a brine solution using salt and brown sugar that draws moisture and fat from the fish. He let them soak until midnight, chopped up some alder for chips, set up the little smoker on the back porch and let the fish cook until six this morning. He just called and told me he had eaten smoked trout with eggs for breakfast, quite pleased with himself, said the skin and bones peel right off and the flesh is good and flaky. He had packed one in my lunch this morning to have with a salad. He smoked the trout to preserve them, but I don’t think they’ll last that long.


Yesterday the bright sun glinted on the swirling river and refracted down to the depths of clear water, deep churning boulders rocks pebbles caught in the surge, scouring the channel.

Thick foliage of dark evergreens and scarlet vine maple arcing over the banks blur the edges, muffle the roar of water, belie the quickness and ferocity of the river.

Here there are trout, quicksilver come alive, dappled and slick.

Happy is the man who catches his limit standing on the bank beside the rolling deep, feeling in his joints the weight of the water and the thud of plunge pools. The exhaustion of standing beside big water all day is akin to exhilaration.

The vermillion and gold leaves drifting downstream trace patterns and trajectory on the black surface of the river, the wind whips the trees high above on both banks. Fog and mist swirls like the river water, the back water, the riffling eddies and deflections within the water.

Happy is the man who cooks the five big trout and is instructed to go fishing again tomorrow, no excuses.


Jesi arrived in her big boots to dance last night. She’s a tall girl, a foot taller than me, and her boots laced up to her knees. Ox-blood Docs, of course. Second-hand and two sizes too big, to make room for two pairs of thick wool socks. R & I stretched on her tiny kitchen’s floor while Jesi unlaced, unbuckled, and shed three layers of cloth. Since her van broke down she gets around on her bicycle, and she works late at the W.O.W. Hall during concerts, so she was bundled up for riding after midnight in the 35 degree rain.

We talked about Spain & Morocco, and about men and happiness and people who won’t take a hint, about how dancing gives us strength and balance in both body and mind, and about when to meet next for more practice and discussion of costumes and fine details.

This coming Saturday we’ll meet at the dance studio and make use of the big floor and mirrors. We’ve gotten very good at dancing close together in R’s small kitchen, which is maybe 10 feet by 7 feet. I’m curious how we’ll do without the confines of kitchen walls and cabinets.

We ran through the whole thing five times, getting to a comfortable level with all the moves, and beginning our focus on details like hand and foot positions. The second time I was struck by how… bewitching… we look. Especially during one long part of the song we join hands and swirl around in a circle facing in, then we all turn and face out, still traveling in the same direction, hands joined. When the musical phrase changes, we stop and turn again, pause and all in synchronicity we bring one hand in, the other up, and travel in a circle the other direction.

Very mesmerizing, very dramatic. We smile and step in time to the big drum.

It would look incredible from a bird’s eye view, the circles within circles and foot patterns on the floor like some intricate flower. It raises the energy level in R’s small kitchen, it lifts our spirits, it swings our hair and our skirts, and it surely would have gotten us burnt at the stake in Salem 300 years ago.

But we are just dancing, and we are full of balance and strength and companionship.


The rain comes drizzly like an old lover you thought you might want to see again and when you see him you recall he makes you nothing but cold and full of memories you’d rather forget.

All pale and hollow-eyed, that’s this kind of rain.

Cold fingers at the back of the neck. Chapped lips and maybe a tongue burnt on too-hot tea, that’s this kind of rain.

It all looks flat like somebody stepped on the sky, dark and moist and cold and grey, a dull rush of continuous heavy drizzle, no distinguishable drops, just wet, the land smothered in clouds and shadows.

This is not the kind of rain that makes people rejoice. This is reflective rain, rain for pondering the depths, for pulling back the shrouds.

This is not the kind of rain that shakes the leaves from the trees, not the kind of rain that ripples the surface of the water like a thousand fish. It is the kind of rain for kingfishers and madmen.

And the only spoken commentary remains:
Some days call into question all motives and desires and wants and needs.

What does the future hold?
I don’t know. All I know is I hope to experience all I am designed to experience, I hope the future doesn’t chew me up and spit me back out, I hope I am brave enough to always love life.

At work I read a letter today from a woman whose husband has been taking care of her daily for 32 years. She has been in and out of hospitals all her life, has suffered heart attack and cancer and stroke and diabetes and nerve damage and lives with enough medicine to fill a suitcase, along with an oxygen tank and a catheter, and wrote that she knows she is going to die soon.

Her concern is the debt she’s leaving for her man, who is getting towards retirement age and she worries he’ll have spent his whole life on her with nothing to show for it.
I felt like writing back to her, although it’s not part of my duties and it may even be discouraged, that she is honorable and gracious, and I can tell from the joy with which she writes that he loves her and she knows he loves her. He vowed to take care of her, in sickness and in health, and he has more than kept his oath.

When I say I believe there is someone for everyone, I mean there is someone who will give you everything he or she can, someone who is happy living and loving you today, and tomorrow, and the next day. You know; eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may all die. This doesn’t mean shirking duties or ignoring the sense of preparing for the future. But once upon a time the biggest worry was how do we get through the winter? Do we have enough wood, enough food, enough of a shelter? Our lives have been altered by amenities, by material things we don’t need for either survival or for memory’s sake.

People tend to forget the important things. My aunt, who may be one of the kindest people in the world, has tacked to her fridge a small hand-printed sign which reads, “People before things.”

It’s important to remember who loves you.
Joe talked about giving thanks a few posts back.
James wrote about remembering loved ones today, right now.

And I believe the husband who took care of his invalid wife for 32 years will have rewards much greater than money in the bank.


Three things I heard S say on Halloween:

“I brought my bomb in from the garage so it’ll dry faster.”

“Alfredo showed me to the Russian pharaoh.”

“Well, I guess it’s just you and me, a bomb, and a bottle of wine.”

He masqueraded as a bomb-throwing Bolshevik, complete with a styrofoam ball he painted black, a hammer and sickle lapel pin on his big coat, wool cap, and his “Stalinist Corruption of Communism” book (bound in red linen, of course, and well-worn) sticking out of his coat pocket. The Russian guy, dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, who attends all the bellydancing functions, told S, “Comrade, you are very well preserved.”

I went as a “vamp”ire, dressed in slinky black and white grease paint on my face, bloody fang marks on my neck, hair wild and very big. It took me half an hour to get all the paint off my face later that night, and it took two days for my hair to get back to normal...

JJ & Tebone treated us to the Halloween event, and we all shared a bottle of wine. She was a little Indian girl like Pocahontas in buckskins and moccasins and he was the Man in Pink Pajamas with a Red Fez, and after seeing R perform they decided to walk and talk. I am sure it was a cold walk home but sometimes that’s a good way to see things in perspective, and I am sure they made quite the couple, walking down dark streets, him with his fez and her with hawk feathers.

S & I stayed for a short while longer, finishing the second bottle of wine, visiting with friends, which included a Gay Hairdresser and The Man in Black. We got back home around midnight, and lounged around reading almost all the next day to the great delight of both kitties, and both doggies.

Saturday night was the Hawkins House Halloween Party. The Hawkins House is one of the coolest most happenin’ houses in Eugene. It’s where the first Oregon Country Fair took place. S & I didn't dress up, but half the mad press of bodies in the steamy house had big hats, antennas, funny masks, ugly glasses, or wings, robes, crowns. Punk Rock Girl was awesome, as was Mr. Squid.

When we first arrived there were some young men on the porch, talking a little too loud about beer and hand-rolled cigs. They followed us into the kitchen, which had not yet reached critical mass. S opened our bottle of wine and served us in juice glasses, and I turned in time to see one of the boys trying to open a beer bottle with the backside of the corkscrew, trying to push up under the edge.
I said, "Turn it around."

He froze like a deer in headlights.

So I took the corkscrew away from him, grabbed the neck of the bottle still in his hands, and with a quick twist I pried the cap off the bottle.

"Uhhh, yeah."

I set the corkscrew on the counter. He didn't look at me.

"Uh, I just turned 21."

I almost said, "Don't be telling people that." Instead I pointed at the corkscrew & said, "Useful tool. Learn how to use it."

"Uhhh, yeah, I usually use my pocket knife." He still didn't look at me, and he blushed.

At which point I turned and walked away, found S with my wine, and enjoyed the conversation he had engaged with the Black Beetle and the Mad Hatter in the corner where the Brazilian band was setting up their instruments and equipment.

Later I saw Mr. 21 on the front porch with a friend, and as soon as he saw me he leaned towards his friend's ear and whispered in the voice of someone unaccustomed to drinking and parties, a fraction too loud, "That's HER." And then made eye contact with me, so I winked and enjoyed the deer in the headlights look a little too much. S told me I was awful.

I may be, but I like knowing I can twitterpate men ten years younger than me. I got flirted with four times that night. Four, including one androgynous girl in a pink wig who asked me for my phone number. I'm not complaining too much; twice S was right next to me. I even got told what a great costume I had, and since I was in my regular clothes I just smiled and nodded and put my arm around my good man's big shoulders, very thankful he was there with me.

It was fun, especially dancing with S in the room where the band played. He danced. Getting S to dance is sometimes harder than pulling teeth, but he danced. We were crushed by the number of people wiggling shaking stomping sweating twisting and turning, so we ended up pressed together swaying and clapping. The band was great. There was so much steam on the windows it was running in rivulets down the glass.

We made our way to the coat corner, unearthed our big heavy wool coats, and pushed through the human tide to the door, and then out front, where we could see through the big window all the dancing and soft-focused hazy motion of drunk people in a steamy room. We met mutual friends out there in the brisk dark damp night, and S and a man from Devon, England exchanged sheep jokes and looked up at the dark shadows of the trees.

And since we were both sober and happy and it was about three in the morning, we decided to head for home.

Sunday we had a quiet day, walked the dogs for a few miles along the river path and looked at all the bright fall colors in the drizzly cold 40 degree mist. It rained and then snowed later. We made a fire, ate beef stew with chipotle peppers, mushrooms, carrots and nopales, drank wine, and ate most of the leftover Halloween candy. We didn't talk much and that's okay.

The weekend spoke for itself.