Four days straight it rained, sometimes heavy, sometimes not much more than a mist. Then it slowed, stopped, and the clouds dropped down out of the sky, ethereal grey, covering the world. The snowflakes dropped softly, steadily, big soft chunks of crystalline water, mesmerizing and tranquil, falling on the boughs of trees, the street, the fields. Everything that isn’t snow looks dark and flat, as though the luminous droplets reduce and dull the substance of the world. Last night the clouds peeled back and revealed a sky shimmering with stars, breathless and still, slumbering and hushed in a white blanket.

The temperature dropped ten degrees in two hours and all the wet snow turned into hard white ice, and the road shimmered silver with ice crystals. The dark isn’t so dark when the earth is covered with ice and snow, reflecting light from the street lamps and windows closed tightly against the cold.


They travelled, slowly, only a donkey and some blankets and their love. She rode, her dark blue robe hiding her swollen belly but not lightening the weight within her that shifted with the donkey's gait, his backbone hard and sharp and uncomfortable. But the animal neither stumbled nor stopped. Campfires of nomads and shepherds dotted the dark horizon as they neared the town, a few lights in the huts and houses shining brightly in the thickening dusk and they travelled to Bethlehem to pay taxes.

Unable to find a hostel in the little town with narrow dirt streets, they boarded in a stable, and the child was born through hard labor and pain, but she remained quiet and strong and held him in her arms when he was born. He slept in a manger, up off the ground, a most humble and simple bed.

The shepherds nearby heard with fear and amazement from the host of heavens, and came and expressed joy and wonder at the birth of the baby, and she heard their voices and pondered the meaning of their words in her heart.

When her child was named, the man in the temple held her babe in his arms and said he could die now because he had seen salvation, and that the child would be the light and the glory, and would be a sign spoken against, and she felt as though a sword pierced her heart.

A star in the heavens was shining, clear and brilliant and silver in the dark sky.

Remember to give love that you may receive it.

I will be back on the 29th. Peace to you all.
The party we had on Friday made me happy. JJ & Tebone arrived early to help us prepare, and to bring chairs and chips and some terribly addictive guacolmole Tebone had created. S made cheese spread with Greek olives, chipotle peppers, and crushed pine nuts. People brought beer & wine, and we served cheese & crackers, spinach dip, bread, chips & salsa, cookies, and some amazing homemade almond-roca.

By 11 o'clock, when the party really got into full swing, we had about 40 people and 7 guitar cases crammed into our house. We had 5 bellydancers, 2 flamenco dancers, 10 musicians including 1 fiddler, 7 singers, 1 set of finger cymbals, 30 clapping hands, 20 tapping feet, and only 1 spilled beer.

S built a fire in the barbeque pit on the back patio and quite a few people found the late December night agreeable. He used pine logs and the scent of the smoke was delicious and primal. He told about a Celtic tradition regarding fire, how on the day of the Solstice all members of the clan would let the fires in their homes go out, and then that night every one would gather wood and build a big bonfire in the center of the community, and at the night's end each family would take a chunk of burning wood with them for their home fire.

R & Jesi & I danced our trio choreography again, and it was ten times the fun it was the weekend before. We swirled and stepped, shimmied and smiled our whole way through the five minutes of choreographed music. Some folks in the audience smiled but most just stared and that tickled me. I know what we look like but not through someone else's eyes, and that glimpse of audience attention and concentration is the most rewarding thing to see. We had so much fun dropping jaws. There were about the same number of people as last week in the bar, but it was much more intimate. For both the watcher and the dancer there is a big difference between dancing on the cement floor of a bar and dancing for friends in a comfortable living room.

After we finished our dance and changed out of our costumes, Jen & Chayla had us all clap a steady rhythm and did their flamenco stand-off, heels stomping on the hardwood floor, eyes dark, wry sassy smiles on their lips, knees bent. I could almost envision a big black Spanish bull, the skirts, the roses.

Our quiet and shy next-door neighbor who brings his telescope over for us to look at planets and talks softly and learnedly about birds and his recent trips to Tibet and Costa Rica came over to join in the circle of music-making and he sang Guns-n-Roses songs. I would have never guessed. The rest of the music was a wide blend of old blues, old spirituals, old traditional songs like Buffalo Gals and Sally Goodin and a blend of them all. JJ sang some wonderful songs, made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, and we had some great guitarists showing us all a thing or two.

It was cold and drizzly until midnight, but then a balmy warm front moved in and pushed away the clouds and we could see the winter constellations in the black curtain of the sky. Half the party stayed inside and played guitars while the other half went into the backyard and enjoyed the warmer temperature. A Cheshire cat moon grinned above dark branches and Orion drew his bow over the rooftops.

After a while we all made our way back inside. Lovely long-legged JJ & I sat with other girl friends R and H and B on our couch. S told me later he had never seen so many beautiful women on one couch at one party and of course he came and sat next to us and we all flirted with him. He's a good sport and doesn't blush easily. Conversations as always with so many people tend to ebb and flow like water, and I felt washed over, engulfed and floating happily in the sea of voices and acoustic guitars and N's soft lovely butterscotch voice singing about trains being the urban tide that sound like the ocean, sound like home.

Everyone sidled out the door by 3:30 and we were in bed by 4. Saturday dawned with sun on the bare limbs of trees, a blessed relief after weeks of temperatures in the mid-30s and long cold rain. We delighted in the sunshine and picked up the place with the windows and doors open. It was thankfully a very considerate crowd. No brawls, no yelling, and it wasn't until 2:30 that R & I fell into ridiculousness doing our hiney dance. S laughed at us & said we got the giggles in front of God and everybody.

I don't mind.


The Winter Solstice comes in 2 days, the shortest day and longest night of the year, and it is cause for celebration because it marks the depth of winter.

I haven't seen the exterior of my house in daylight all week, because the days are so short.

This morning I didn't want to get out of bed. It's not because I feel depressed or sad or because I have winter-time blues, it's because bed is a nice nest of warmth, and the rest of the house is dark and cold. Even the dogs like to stay in bed. My cat sleeps next to me and usually stirs before the alarm, often she'll find my hands uncovered and rub her chin against my fingertips, which I find a much more agreeable manner to awaken than the blaring clarion of an alarm we have.

I'm not a morning person. I do like mornings, but I think "morning" should begin when the sun rises, not when the alarm wrenches me from my dreams and shocks me from my slumber.

This morning I hit the snooze button once and S & I lay back to back, which is the most comfortable thing in the world, before he got up to shower. He has his own agenda and usually it begins with COFFEE and that's how he says it, too.

I stayed in bed. I don't get up until 20 minutes before I have to be out the door because I don't require breakfast or coffee, my morning routine is streamlined and minimalist. This morning I knew I had to take out the trash also, so I had to get up by 7:10. Which means I was still in bed, in the dark, cozy and warm, when S returned to the room after his shower.

He turned on the light and called me names, such as "Dormouse," and "Sleepyhead," and asked why I was still in bed, it's 7:07. I said yes I know, I was just thinking about what clothes to wear. He laughed at me and said that was the best one he had ever heard. I was mildly indignant because I had honestly been thinking about what clothes to wear. But if that amuses him then good.

What amuses me is he went to work this morning, his last scheduled day at the phone call sweat shop, left himself logged in and supposedly taking calls, went and got his paycheck, and left. He's headed home to split firewood and make spinach dip and pick up minor messes and move furniture around to accomodate dancers and people with guitars.

Tonight we're expecting about 30 people to fill our house with music and laughter and more than a few empty beer and wine bottles. It's Friday night, and it's close to the longest night of the year. I want to dance under the midnight winter sky in the waning moon's light.

And tomorrow I won't get out of bed until the sun rises.


Both Dr Sex and the Lapsed Cannibal think Clay Sails
is the King of the Hobos.
Let it bend a smile from ear to ear.

I got new tennie-shoes.
From, like, the coolest shoe store ever. They were playing old hard rock and all the shoes were half off. Hard to beat.

Party, my place, Friday 8 pm, bring your own whatever.
Guitars and kazoos and drummers and dancing girls and wine and beer and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

There's a man and a woman and a dog living in an old grey van down by the river. The van runs but it's parked always in the same place when I leave work and when I return in the morning.

Seagulls come inland when a storm front crashes into the coast lands, long thin stilletto wings carving curves in the sky. I can see them bracing and swirling in the wind.

I remember last year's December, all the hopes bundled into my little car on our way to the coffeehouse we'd opened a month before, hopes, and some firewood to take the chill out of the air because the heaters took a while, and the clean rags, and any other last-minute supplies remembered in the early morning.

The ride was four miles and seemed to take forever in the cold, we'd ride with the windows down because the defroster wouldn't work half the time and we could hear the doppler effect of the buzzing streetlights as we travelled past dark storefronts and warehouses, hotels and gas stations, early enough to see the school buses warming their engines and checking their lights in the bus parking lot. Early and dark, and that's how I remember last December, some wistfulness mixed with worry, business decisions and bills.

And I think even then we knew it wouldn't make it, but there's always a little hope in December, some hibernating soft thing, eyes closed and tail wrapped around for warmth. We survived the winter but not the summer, and the relief I feel at the absence of stress is tempered with a sense of futility. There was nothing we could have done. We did it not on a shoelace but on the little plastic cap on the end of the shoelace, and then the location changed when some state budget cut took effect and the alley that went past our place became known as the homeless highway. We did what we could, and we followed through with our lease but it was the hardest thing we've done, ever.

It was harder than moving into my uncle's 10 x 12 foot pump house until we found jobs, harder than losing those jobs within the year, harder than living in our little 19-foot travel-trailer for two years in the big woods. And I think about where I am now with happiness, because doing those hard things taught me to roll with the punches. Sometimes the path we travel heads straight into the wilderness. Life is about more than survival, but sometimes we are reduced to adaptability and capability of coping with very base elements. But there must always be hope. Without hope we have nothing.

The sea birds had all landed in the grassy field beside the river, and took to the air again in wild sweeps as the man started his grey van and drove away. I know they'll be back, like the birds weathering the storm, but I know some day they'll fly away and have someplace to go.


S had a shitty day yesterday. He hates his job, oh he hates it. He said the phone call sweatshop has sped up the call time, and he got his ass chewed because he failed to push "666" to use the bathroom, he had used "667" which signalled his break, which is different. Every moment accounted for, tick tock, reduces people to something less than human. After lunch he left. He just didn't go back. He said, "No fucking way."

He got on a bus headed home, and he said the bus driver rolled her eyes at him because he had to run to catch it, and then the pretty girl he sat next to in the only available seat remaining rolled her eyes at him, and the woman across the aisle WAS TALKING LIKE THIS about how wonderful a job she had and it's the same awful place S works.

Then the bus driver cut off a meat van and the van hit the bus and broke the tail-light, and the bus driver and the meat van driver checked it three times, and then the bus driver passed out accident reports for everyone to fill out although nobody really saw anything more than the bus driver did and so S filled his name in as Clark Kent and gave a phony phone number, wished he could have already been home, hopped on the next bus and had to sit next to a snoring drunk bum he said smelled like he had shat himself.

When he got home he realized he didn't have keys.

So, in the spirit of making sure our home is secure, he broke into the garage and then kicked in two doors, which he'll repair and fortify. He said it was scary how easy the door jambs popped off with one well-placed kick. He's talking about getting steel jambs and dead bolts, and also some spare keys...

He baked a chicken and called me and I told him it's all going to be okay.

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

Dance class last night kicked my ass.

We've been working on our group choreography for months now, and so every class was focused on synchronization, coordination, hands, feet, "postures and smiles, ladies!" The choreography demanded our determination and thought, not our determination and sweat.

The motions in the choreography were more about timing than stamina. Our Stellar One reviewed the show with us, which we think was our best bellydancing winter show yet and feedback from friends in the audience confirms it. Mostly it was fun.

Last night our instructor asked us what we wanted to do for class, since it's the last one before a two-week break, and one of the last classes before she heads to Cairo for three months. Glutton for punishment that I am, I piped up, "Kick our asses!" Oh yes, please, and she did indeed.

Side to side slide, feel the muscles across my back and down the tops of my thighs catching and releasing with the motion, find the rhythm, repeat; twist, upper body immobile and right hip rising and dropping, accent in time with the beat, down down down down, quick switch to the other hip, down down down down, ignore the side cramp it'll go away. Curly-que turns, draw a circle on the floor, keep my head up and heels in. Shimmy, begin big, hips and body loose, just lightly balanced, knees moving quickly back and forth like a motor, vroom vroom, let the motion travel up the leg and terminate in the hips, keep the chest elevated so the upper body doesn't bounce.

We strutted, shimmied, travelled front to back, side to side, around in a circle for an hour. We combined moves, added shimmies to moves, worked it hard. All of us were panting and sweating, clearing our throats like horses, hair wild, thighs burning, eyes blazing with big happy grins. Oh yes, we had forgotten muscle-building drills.

I got home, showered, sat with S for a while, then I decided to climb in bed with my book and a wee nip of Irish whiskey. I like a night cap, I think it helps me sleep, but last night it was completely unecessary since I woke up this morning and it sat, untouched, on S's dresser along with my book. I asked him if he found me asleep when he came into the room last night & he said I was all curled up sideways on my book like a cat.

That sounds about right.


Dancing barefoot in a bar that once was a mechanics garage makes for dirty feet. I performed three times on the last rainy Saturday night and garnered adoration and undying love from at least one unknown man, who told Jesi, who found me in the dressing room and said, "He told me I was great, but that there are women he's seen before you danced, and now every other woman he sees will be after you." Miss Maggie piped up, "She's taken!" So Miss Lucy said, "Hey, I'm NOT taken, and you tell him I'm available!"

I danced well solo, I know it, and that comes from happiness and confidence at a job well done. It was fun and I felt completely comfortable with the halfway-to-tipsy crowd. It helped that S was at a table up front, with JJ and Tebone and my aunt, and R was seated with her group at a table across the aisle. I had lots of smiles.

Jesi & R & I dropped jaws with our trio choreography and the heavy rain that had been falling all day turned into snow.

I was only worried about the group choreography, because with more people dancing there is always the increased possible problems. Three years ago in my first big group choreography I got caught up on another girl's coin belt during a big swinging turn and my momentum nearly knocked her off her feet. We have all improved since then. We made it through the group choreo and also the bel anat, the joined pinkie fingers with our finger cymbals still going and then the group bow, and that's all folks.

With her long-distance boyfriend D, and her ex-boyfriend, and her good friend who wants to be her boyfriend, R was surrounded with testosterone and big toothed smiles and came to me later for a hug because she felt funky and was sick of the male attention. Her current beau, with whom she escapes every weekend possible to the San Juan Islands, is a long tall Texan with big steel nerd glasses and a scar down the side of his face, sort of like Indiana Jones meets Opie Cunningham. He's sweet and likes her as much as she likes him, which is necessary.

We stayed for the real Saturday night show, with the live band and the paid dancers. We ate garlic bread and pizza and drank wine and we all talked to Dancing Old Man who showed me his toothless mouth and admonished me about soft drinks, and stroked his long white beard and explained how knees work. He offered to put glitter on me and JJ and Tebone had already let him sparkle them but I declined. He's one of downtown's permanent fixtures.

We said a good goodbye to everyone and got home after midnight.

The following morning we heard on the radio about Saddam Hussein's capture, and shrugged, expostulated, speculated, and randomated before we headed out the door to met R & D and JJ & Tebone for breakfast and then a rendez-vous at a nearby mountain.

Half the hill was covered in snow, the woods were hushed and still and pretty in the clear cold light, and we even had sunshine for half our hike. The river curls around the base of the mountain, and with the rain and snow it was swollen and muddy, pale churning brown and fallen trees from the mountains to the east.

The trail climbed as it cut across the face of the slope, through the tall dead grass and the new green shoots recently blackened by the cold. Brambles stood bare, wild roses and blackberries looped in half coils of defensive barbed design. We crossed rills cascading down the hillside, cold fresh water burbling and eroding the rocky surface, leeching the color from the mud. We wended our way into the thick woods where the trail cuts back hard against the slope, twisting its way up and up. A downed tree on the path forced a scramble onto the snowy face, icy grass beneath and mud beneath that made for uncertain footing through a brambly thicket.

When we emerged from the woods it was a straight shot to the top, hard and steep, the part S calls the Heathcliff trail, just the wind and a long sliding fall down the bare face of the mountian. Parched grass poked its head above the thin surface of snow which got deeper and slushier as we climbed, and a glance behind us showed a weather front moving our direction.

Everyone was beautiful in the snow, red cheeks and noses, bright plumes of breath, ice crystals on eyelashes and dewdrops on hair. At one point JJ turned and looked down the path at me and this is how steep the path was: I was five feet from her and her shoes were level with my hat. She with her stunning dark hair and eyes and porcelain features chilled from the snow took away my breath and we grinned at each other in the cold.

I felt the wind push me, and was thankful for my oil-slicker coat and my wool pants, and I was thankful the wind was behind me aiding my progress. At some point I realized it was neither snow nor rain nor hail, and I think if those three are eliminated then what remains is sleet. We peaked the top as the clouds opened their icy embrace, and since the snow was so thick in the bald saddle of the hill, we decided to take a cue from the weather and had a snowball fight.

I got R in the legs and D got me full in the face, as soon as he let go he yelled "OH! SORRY!" My mouth was open and half of the snowball hit the side of my face, half went in my mouth, and I joked about being thirsty anyway and laughed it off but it sure did sting. S pegged D full in the chest and said he grunted, and every snowball I threw at Tebone he caught and threw back at me. JJ didn't want to participate, and I think it's because she knew she would destroy us all. R aimed at my ass so I hip-checked it and felt quite tricksy. The sleet thickened so we headed for the trail down the mountain, a different and faster and much more travelled way than we had ascended.

We hugged and said goodbyes at the base of the trail, drove home, and S & I took a two hour nap and ate leftovers for dinner.

I took yesterday off work to run errands (including the purchase of a new corkscrew) and wash laundry and clean my home, and now I have a two foot tall pile of paper to process, oh the joyful aftermath of a vacation day. I'm also wondering if instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal is different in any way from pre-popped caramel popcorn, and if so, how?

I had a wonderful weekend.


I met S after work in an art supplies store. Such places are dangerous for me to go, because I think of all sorts of projects I want to do. It's been so long either of us has had any money so usually it's just window shopping and some discreet drooling over the beautiful textures of "handmade in Singapore" paper and blank gold leaf cards and rows and rows of shiny paint tubes and soft brushes to fondle and calligraphy sets and easels and carving tools and soapstone and stacks of art paper... I could die happy in an art supplies store.

But S got his paycheck, and I got paid and received my bonus, and also got paid for the class I substituted for R a few weeks ago. I bought an inexpensive kit for sun printing on fabric and hope to use it sometime around, say, July, when the sun returns to this land of shadows...

We stopped at the store on the way home through the rain and got a bottle of red wine and fixings for burritos. S had the food simmering in the pan when he grabbed the bottle of wine and the corkscrew, and I was grating cheese.

I heard the "Crack!" and the "Crap!" and turned to see him looking bewildered at the cork, still in the bottle, with the screw in it. The screw had snapped off. He laughed, said, "Well I guess it's time to get a new corkscrew."

Luckily, we still had the old corkscrew in the back of the silverware drawer, and he worked at screwing it in so it wouldn't torque the previous screw. "SNAP!" "CRAP!"

He shook his head, and said, "Now we really need a new corkscrew."

Luckily, I remembered the cheap plastic corkscrew we had gotten for camping trips, and climbed into the attic and found it in the kitchen box. While I rummaged, S unscrewed both curly bits of metal from the cork using flat bladed pliers.

The plastic corkscrew did the trick and we examined the cork that had destroyed two corkscrews. It was made of corkoak bark, easily indented by a thumbnail. Must have just been time to get a new corkscrew.


Nobody would go for sushi with me so I went by myself.

The sun shimmered on the wet streets and I avoided soggy piles of leaves as I walked the five blocks, happy to be outside, happy to be walking, happy.

It was early and I was the only customer at the sushi bar. Only a few plates traveled around the little conveyor belt, plates of strange combinations and some sushi rolls with salmon and cream cheese inside, which strikes me as odd and unappetizing although normally I like cream cheese with salmon. Blame it on a sense of propriety.

I seated myself and watched the three chefs piece together the rolls and the bricks with slabs of bright pink fish, tempura-fried shrimp, and some strange orange mushy stuff I know from past experience to be very spicy, like Thai spicy, which also does not comform to my sense of "sushi." I prefer the cool creamy buttery delicate flavors, no added flavorings or spices except wasabi and soy sauce.

I love wasabi, the quick rush and then the drop back down and soon your eyes stop watering. When I go with S & we sit in a booth I feel no qualms about pounding the seat with my fist as tears stream down my cheeks, face flushed and his obvious delight at my self-inflicted pain, but here alone at the bar with the three handsome chefs I controlled myself.

The one preparing the batter-fried shrimp sushi rolls asked me if I wanted anything in particular, and I immediately asked for unagi.

He brought me a plate with two bricks covered by some of the best unagi I've eaten, nice big thick strips and good tangy barbeque sauce drizzled over the whole thing. He laughed soundlessly as I popped the whole piece in my mouth and I obliged his laughter with big eyes and mock-surprised eyebrows.

He brought me a tempura-fried shrimp to sample and pointed at the plates he had constructed, and I enjoyed the sample and vowed to come alone more often, but had no intention of eating more. I counted four plates and that was plenty for my tummy and for my pocketbook.

It was a nice stroll back to the office. Happy.

The rain fell torrential last night, hard and pounding, transforming the earth into sludge. The fallen leaves blocked the culverts and made wide deep puddles in the streets, flooded onto driveways, forcing a running start and my longest leap at the narrowest part of the water to make it from the street to the curb.

I could hear R & Jesi in the old house, mizmar horn and tabla drum drifting from the radio on her refrigerator out into the night, eerie and out of place in the sagging old house, overhanging trees catching the shadows and the sounds and the rain and releasing the fused droplets onto my hair.

We danced, practiced the most difficult part again and again, the part when we all come out of a spin, let our momentum carry us into a hip circle to the left, then a spiral up to the chest, and then a chest drop, which transitions into a chest circle and a sideways travel. We all can execute the movements; it’s the synchronization that causes us problems. Especially since it follows a spin. It’s barely two beats of the music, and if we fail to time it perfectly nobody will notice, but it would be nice to take the whole choreography we’ve worked on since September and nail it. Hard. Like the rain.


I love a waterfall.

A big white rush of water over a 140 foot drop. I stood behind it and felt the ground and the air and my bones vibrate with the force of the water, terrifying and deadly and exhilarating and beautiful. Air crisp and clean as after a hard cold rain.

Dreaming is not difficult, having ideas and wild thoughts and wishes and hopes is a commonplace thing, universally shared. It is the communication of those ideas that becomes difficult. This translation between dream and the
expression of the dream depends upon (a red wheelbarrow and white chickens and the rain) many things.

Freedom of expression, freedom from censorship, is possibly the greatest limitation to communicating ideas. Sometimes this is because of legal restrictions, and without freedom of speech we have nothing, but often the strangulation of ideas comes from our own fear.

Fear of creation, fear of rejection, fear of false starts and failure... such things obviously limit the methods of expression. We try things like tact and cunning, we try to pry the hinges off the door rather than simply knock.

Knock knock.
Who's there?

Take a look, and see the world, see all aspects of the world. Now take those impressions and communicate them, first to yourself, by forming words and shapes and phrases and colors, and then to others, by refining those ideas, distilling those impressions into their most immediate forms.

Get as close as possible to the way the waterfall crashes and churns into the deep treacherous plungepool, how the wind thick with water swirls and drifts and makes prisms and reflects the sunlight filtering down between the big tree branches. The mist plasters your clothing to your damp
skin and lifts the hair from your brow. A thrilling release from the heat and dust of summer. See the big wild river, moss a foot thick on the banks, monstrous old silent trees rising above, ferns stretching their fronds to catch the droplets like rain in August. Hear the rush and pull of the
churning depths below, the water big and black except where it's white, frothed by gravity and earth.
Christmas time here in the office is full of Pepperidge Farms and pre-popped popcorn in festive tins and Sees Candies and packs of hot cocoa. Ugh.

I have a funny story.

Every year our office manager gives us a gift, usually something small; my first year here it was $5 gift certificates to a garden center, the next year it was a music cd, and last year we each got a 25 pound bag of onions from her mother's farm out in Eastern Oregon. A bit strange, yes, but the onions were top-notch and also nobody got sick last year. Plus we all learned how to cook onions: onion soup, broiled onions, baked, fried, stewed, sauteed onions... like I said, nobody got sick that winter.

We have one co-worker who is a single mom with two boys. She often takes home some of the treats the office receives, especially the Pepperidge Farms goodies, since we always get a jumbo pack and half our staff is dieting. When we got the bag of onions, she called her boys and told them she'd be home with a big bag of goodies that evening. Jumping to the most obvious conclusion, her oldest boy shouted, "Summer sausage!" with great glee, and she didn't contradict him. But later she called again, and explained no, it was in fact a big bag of onions.

He didn't believe her.

She told him don't be disappointed, but he wouldn't believe her.

Until she got home and he learned it was, in fact, a big bag of onions.


I have a habit of waking up worrying.

Saturday I noticed the grocery store where I shop had an advertisement for Dungeness crabs, $2.49 a pound. Most crabs are about 1 and a half to 2 pounds, which means technically I should be able to purchase 5 crabs for under $20. I thought we could stop at the store after having lunch with R and her sister, but S wanted to go home, he didn't want to deal with the maddening hordes, he was grumpy and wanted a nap. So home we went with intentions of getting crabs later.

We tripped to the store about 6 that evening, set and ready to purchase dinner, and the fish market was sold out of crabs. Gone. All gone. 37 crates, empty and gone, and S ducked slowly behind the wine shelf behind us so as to elude my... frustration. Smart man. But hope comes to those who ask, and the clerk said, "Tomorrow morning."

Sunday. Ah yes, day of sleeping-in. Except I woke up worrying, and got up, and a sleepy S asked me, "What are you doing?"

"Calling the bank."

"Please don't worry about our bills today, I get paid in a week..."

"I'm not worried about our bills."

"Come back to bed."

"I want to go buy crabs, and I want to make sure I have enough to buy enough crabs."

And yes I got laughed at, and yes I bought five crabs for $18, and I spent 3 hours cracking and shelling and cleaning the giant bug-like things, with help from my cat, who with her near-silent meow reminded me on occasion to taste-test for quality.

S later made five pans of crab and mushroom and spinach with ricotta cheese stuffed manicotti. Smart man.
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Yesterday as I was puttering around the house I thought about those audioblog things. I also thought about the dwarf lemon tree I have in my living room, and how it's blooming right now and I'd like to share that sweet lemony scent, and that maybe someday there will be olfactoryblogs to share scents as well as audioblogs to share sounds. But then thought better of it because no I don't want to smell some things... and then I thought better of trying an audioblog because an involuntary "HUHNNNN!-uh!-uh!-UHHHNN!" left my vocal cords, followed by the "WHAM!" of my fist squashing the monstrous spider that had come out of the shadows and crawled across my bare foot.
You just never know what sounds you're going to make.


Ramsey discovers the true source of inspiration for writing.

After a serious ass-kicking in dance class (hey let's do the same sidestepping travel hip-lift and twisting drop to the back move for half an hour. Oh yes I feel that this morning in my thighs and my hips) and a shower and a glass of wine I fell into a discussion with S, who has a fiddle lesson this afternoon and who was talking about the difference between practice and performance.

I can't recall which artist said the best way to draw is to memorize the anatomy of your subject, and then forget it.

This makes sense for all things we do or create.

Practice makes perfect.

We talked about how the word choreography means dance written; it's one you record so you remember it, and so that others can read what motions correspond with the phrases of the music. I mentioned my dance instructor rarely uses a choreography, and he said well no, she practices daily and knows every move and she knows the dance and the music so well she's just flirting when she dances. Which is part of what makes her mesmerizing to watch.

Louis Armstrong practiced scales every day, eight hours a day, slides, slurs, chromatics, staccatos, long notes, short notes, grace notes, up the scale, down the scale, again and again and again. When interviewed about his practice compared to his performance, he said, "When I'm up there I just forget all that shit, and blow."



I walked along the riverbank this early morning in the dark in the rain, the sky purple and deep above the fast black water. In the half light before dawn all the violet and the rare shadows reveal colors we cannot name, something beyond cobalt and viridian and umber. The wet pavement streaks the streetlamp light in silvery cold with dapples of raindrops and my breath turns to steam in the cool damp air.

The big river running to my left looks like India ink, shimmering with the reflections of stars and windows in buildings and car headlights and the lamps on the bridge. I can hear the cars traveling on the bridge, the hollow rush of the tires and engines and the quick dull thump as the tires roll over the steel joints of the span.

Something in me loves a bridge like I love dreams in which I’m flying. The suspension, the rise coinciding with the falling away of the ground, the feeling of traveling over water.

Something in me fears a bridge like I hate dreams in which I’m flying. The pinprick feeling at the nape of my neck of no solid ground, the notion I might jump and fall, the ending of the dream.

As the night’s curtain parted for dawn I could see the blue and the branches, tall slumbering trees, sap thickened and slowed by the winter cold. Things of the night withdrew like the tide as the sky lifted and lightened.

It's the ending of the year.


I've got wood. Lord knows I have plenty of wood. Well-seasoned walnut, kiln-dried alder, and a half cord of Douglas fir, all stacked and ready to burn, plenty to get me through the winter. Yes, plenty of wood.

But I lack kindling.

I've been a busy girl today.

What's True?

I know what Sterling is-- 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper, and I know how to weld, shape, and work it. It's coinage, the silver of a ring, a bit of a star, a little bird.

Fitz is porcelain and gloves and the fur pelt of a polecat.

So then True must be the solid smooth touchstone, honesty, essence, the center.
Elusive as a silverquick polecat.

And I'm not touching Fassbinder with gloves or a ten foot pole...

A seven-inch Sheffield shaving blade with a black horn handle, smooth and brittle but the blade kept its edge. My great-great-grandfather’s shaving blade. And his gold pocket watch, and cigar knife, and his spectacles. And his .45 muzzle-loading Deringer boot pistol.

I saw much of my Mother’s family’s history during the two days we stayed with my parents. Old photographs, silk hankies, tie tacks. Coin and stamp collections.

Mom finally has most of my Grandma’s apartment cleaned out. She sighed and said we come from people who keep everything, especially the hand-made handkerchiefs, aprons, tablecloths, pillowcases and sheets. Everything. Packed as tightly as possible, dense to the point of implosion, like a black hole. Where will I put it all, she asked me. And what should I save? What should I sell? What should I give away?

I carted home a trunkload of vintage clothing, clothes my Grandma had worn out on the town when she and my Grandfather were young and in Chicago in the 1940s, 50s, 60s. I don’t know much about vintage clothing but I know all of it was expensive to begin with, and it has been cared-for and preserved inside her wardrobe. Grandma liked red.
She also liked to sew, and some of the jackets and even some of the dresses look like she probably tailored them. I have seen photos of her in some of the clothes, years before I was born, visiting her daughter away at college, holding hands looking at a windmill in a tulip field and standing beside Lake Michigan.

Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of my reflection I can see just a bit of her, around the eyes, kind smile lines, and I have her long strong fingers.

This was our first Thanksgiving without Grandma. My mother cried. Me, I’m just thankful she’s no longer in pain.
S went to work for a phone call center selling overpriced plastic grasshoppers and bees and $40 a pound cheese and $15 (each) cookies. He hates it and it took him an hour, a bowlful, a dinner, and a glass of wine to unwind last night, and this is just the training session.

He said the company makes no pretenses of being a civilized place to work; it is a sweatshop, essentially, a hundred rules and regulations and keep your headset on and you must be seated within a minute of when your shift starts, not too early, not too late.

Oh, he hates it. Let’s take a wild and wooley outside beastie and strap him into a chair in a fluorescent-lit cubicle with a toothless harpy screeching about the justification “some people” who live a “fast-paced lifestyle” find for spending $80 for four pears and two apples and some ribbons, and that doesn’t include the shipping costs.

At least it’s only for 3 weeks, unless he gets dismissed because he’s late, or if he doesn’t make his sales percentage, or if he fails to offer the “special” when his supervisor is listening in on his phone call, or if he takes too long to close a sale, or if he forgets to notify someone he’s going to the bathroom, or if he takes too long in the bathroom. He said he’s tempted to take a nasty-looking half-melted chocolate bar with nuts in it, unwrap it, and leave it on the seat at the end of the day. And leave unionizing literature in the lunchroom. I finally raised a smile by calling him a saboteur and an infiltrator. He said the only redeeming quality is that my beautiful dance instructor works there also, and she gave him a big smile and a hug yesterday when they saw each other in the hallway.

Speaking of dance, tonight is rehearsal, class, and practice. It is dance day, hooray. Our performance is set for December 13 and I’m expected to do a solo in addition to the group choreography and the trio with R & Jesi… I haven’t thought about a solo at all.

R called me last night as she was walking home at 9:30. I was already in bed because I was exhausted & enjoyed chatting with her from under the blankets in the dark. She told me don’t worry, relax, told me to dance to a song I know well, and leave them wanting more. Sounds fine to me.

She also told me S & I have to move farther north because she is moving north, and she wants to live near us. She’s considering Alaska, or maybe British Columbia. She wants something wilder. But first she’s going to travel to Spain and Morocco and possibly visit her relatives in Argentina again. She’s a curious girl.

We shall see.


We began our ascent into the mountains as the clouds lifted and parted, sunshine brilliant in the altitude, reflecting against the rain-slick rocky crags and shining down through the saddle of the mountain ridge to the west. The pregnant clouds scudded low, shrouded the hilltops in lavender and indigo and steel grey, shafts of sunlight gracing the world. The colors changed as we traveled south from the land of shadow; the dark tall draping evergreen firs and cedars dwindled, and sharp hard blue pines and rusty red oaks grew in stumbling stands down between the ridges of the mountains. Orange and yellow reeds and silver sage lined the edges of the high cold lakes. The taller ridges had been capped with snow, a bare dusting and indication of the coming winter storms.

Far, far in the deceptive distance rose Shasta’s white craggy wild top, massive and splendid and forbidding, towering above the windy valley. She traps the clouds, and had one veiled around her northern flank, but the rest of her glowed with light from the setting sun, orange and red and yellow, light reflected from the constant drape of snow and ice she wears all year. The high basin and range falls away from her, and big cinder cones score the rolling golden hills, surfaced igneous rock and chunks of granite from a long-ago volcanic eruption. Shasta slumbers, but she could shift the earth if she wished.