This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Young Person

I have been distracted by the tomatoes, which have begun arriving in earnest: Santiam, Early Girl, Oregon Spring, Black, and of course the cherry and pear cherries. The Beefsteak has blossom end rot; the Brandywines are remaining resolutely green.

With all this activity I'm not keeping up with the zukes. They're still coming in by the dozens of dozens, with the result that I'm taking all of the larger ones to work, to church, to meetings -- wherever I can hope to offload them. And of course eating all I can.

We're watering the corn all day today as the silk is falling and the ears will flesh out soon -- if they can get enough to drink. I have to weed for a party I'm throwing soon, but after looking around I think I may just have to go in with the mower and the tiller. It's a jungle out there!


I was about to close the ref desk for the day when I got a call from a patron who wanted to know when we would be closing.

"Umm, in about fourteen minutes."

"What?! When are your hours?"

"Nine to six, Monday through Friday during the intersession, sir."

"Well how about Sunday?"

"We won't be open any weekends until the one before school starts, sir."

"So no Saturdays either?"

"No, sir. Nine to six, Monday through Friday during the intersession."

"Don't seem like I can get in there with hours like that!"

"What would you like to do here, sir?"

"Well, there's those phone directories. I need the one for San Diego."

"Sir, we gave up the out-of-state directories in 2001. There are online directories, you see."

"No, I don't see. Last time I was there you had 'em."

"We gave them up in 2001, sir. But there are ways to get telephone numbers."

"I can't use your computers."

"They are public access; but if they present any difficulty we would be happy to help you use them."

"Really? Librarians do that?"

"Certainly. For example, can you give me a name to look up to see what number we can locate?"

"Wow. Okay, well, I need a Marriott or the Hyatt that's downtown, near the waterfront."

"Yes, sir. [clackety-click]. There are four Marriotts in that area, and the Grand ..."

That's the one. What's it's phone number?"

I told him.

"Amazing. Just like that!"

"Yes, sir, just like that."

Well ... well. Well, thank you, young ... person."

"Young lady will do nicely, though I'm fifty-seven."

"Well, you're a spring chicken! I'm sixty-eight."

"Early innings yet!"

"Nice of you to say so. Well, bye now."


Gotta work on that voice some more.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to the drama

We interrupt this summer idyll for some of the kind of thing that went on in the "old days." Well, almost. Happy endings are preferred in my circles, after all.

It recently dawned on me that my passport was nine years old and that I might not want to wait for the "Real ID" era to try and replace it.

So I grabbed everything I thought might come in handy and went over to the post office on my lunch hour.

Some things have changed there. The sign over the side corridor still says "passports," but now there is a locked door and a take-a-number machine. So I took a number and after a short while a nice looking red-haired lady, about my age, pops out and calls my number. The machine tells them someone is out there.

We walked down the long corridor together to the little room Beloved and I had visited so long ago, when we wanted to be sure of the Canadian border when I had been invited to give a talk in St. John's, Newfoundland.

I dug around in my purse and began handing her things. Passport, driver's license, faculty ID card, surgeon's letter, certified copy of court-ordered name change.

She looked at the old photo. "Yes, I can see you need a new one."

Reaching for a three ring binder, she began looking up what to do with people like me.

The other lady, a round, cheery presence, bustled over. "Is this a teaching opportunity?"

Red Hair looked at me to see if I wanted privacy. Very professional, I thought. "I don't mind at all," I assured them, and so we worked on my case as a team. They used my pronouns properly! Things were looking good.

But Red Hair was unhappy with the name-change document. "This needs to be certified."

"But it is! It says so right there."

"That's the lawyer's office. We need one from the county, with a seal on it."

"Awwww. Paid good money for those, too."

""I'm so sorry. But you will want this to go smoothly. Take this form and fill it out, but don't sign it yet, and run over to the courthouse and get a new copy, and come back when you can."

"We'll be waiting for you!" beamed the round one.

On my next lunch hour, I drove to the courthouse. There they have a security routine like an airport. I gave them my purse, and emptied my skirt pocket ...

There was a blue pacifier in my pocket, which I had been carrying around for good luck. It was! It served as an icebreaker with the (very butch) security crew. "Wow," said one, "it matches your blouse."

"The perfect accessory," said I, and popped it in my mouth, which cracked them up.

They must have really boring jobs.

Window to window to window, stamp goes thump-thump, pay the money and run.

The next lunch hour (at last I'm losing some weight) I'm back in the post office with my number 87 in my hand, and a middle aged, paunchy bureaucratic looking guy comes out -- ugh! My gah, he's the twin of the old me!

This can't be good.

And I can tell from the way he's walking that he's not going to fall for the pacifier.

"Got all your stuff filled out?"


We pass Ms. Round in the long hallway. She gives me an encouraging smile when he's not looking.

He goes behind the tall desk. "Okay, whatcha got?"

(Digging in purse) "Umm, here's my old passport, and, my ..."

"Wait, wait, wait." He has opened the passport and aims it at me. His face is saying, you have brought me someone else's passport, dummy.

"Yessir, that is my old passport. And here are my surgeon's letter and a court-certified copy of my court-ordered name change. And, umm, my form. All but the signature."

I thought for a minute he was going to faint.

But he pulled it together. Very professional, I thought.

We got through the business pretty well. Eventually he lifted the stamp, thump-thump.

And he took a lovely photo of me.

Ms. Round beamed on us both from the other desk.

I'll let you know in six weeks how it all turns out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Classic visit

One of my granddaughters, age seven, is here.

She never forgets a promise, and so I have to deliver on several.

We bought a small PFD (personal flotation device) and I took her kayaking on the reservoir, using Beloved's kayak, which is a real one, much larger than mine, so she could sit in my lap. The area we started out in is a knee-deep shallows of about ten acres in size, and we floated and paddled about among the water-weeds and stumps awhile.

"Let's go deeper."


"Uh-huh, where is it deeper?"

"Right here past the stumps. See, the water turns blue here and the light goes right on down out of sight."

"Ohhhh, let's go shallow!"


"Now deep!" "Shallow!" "Deep."

So we played along the edge of perceived danger until she felt like visiting the park, over by the boat basin.

Here there is a swimming area, and as we were both in our swimsuits, we joined the crowd on the beach. She immediately struck up a friendship with a Latina girl and they played together until I began to burn, turning round and round in the ninety degree sunshine. It's very eutrophic water, so I encouraged her to keep her head out of the water, and didn't do any swimming myself. I have no left eardrum and don't wish to get any of this water into my other ... places ... either, having a long history of infections, and a recently surgery, to contend with.

A young mother called her brood out of the water. They dug in their heels on the lake bottom.

I happened to be carrying my whistle, so I gave it two short blasts and hooked my thumb. They all sheepishly marched out toward the parking lot.

One of the other kids there asked, wonderingly, "Are you the lifeguard?"


In the spring Granddaughter had helped plant the garden, so we have spent a fair amount of time there. I'm hoping to teach her that the value of a garden lies in its timing -- that you don't pick all the tomatoes, but only the ones that offer their ripeness. We haven't quite closed that deal yet, so I'm ripening a lot of tomatoes in a brown bag.

She also, in the spring, had inspected the old playhouse, which had been under-utilized by her dad and his siblings, and placed an order for a finished interior. So I worked on it last month. On this visit, she pronounced it much improved and has moved iin, with me for a roommate. On the far end of the property, with no television or electric lights, I've discovered she settles in to sleep much earlier than down at the big house, which is more restful for me as well.

I lie awake a bit, watching the sky through the four windows, and the shadows cast by the tea light burning in the tin lamp, wondering at the ways that my life, and the lives of those around me, have taken.

It seems as if there is an interlude here; those who know me may think of me as having just undergone a big change, but, no, I'd say an expensive one, but in so many ways not really. It's as though the garden and the housekeeping were always the main things and remain so. But I feel something shifting that hasn't arrived yet. Not sure what.

Yesterday, Beloved and Granddaughter went off together and I settled into a long, shady afternoon of wood stacking. Did three cords. It has a rhythm that I find soothing, and I have my own way of going about it, so others usually leave me alone with it. I sit on a gardener's stool by the pile with the wheelbarrow beside me, gloves on, and gather the pieces I can reach, then shift the stool. At the woodshed I carry a pair of short pieces to the right and longer ones to the left. Eventually it fills, row on row. Extremely satisfactory activity.

For breaks I moved water. There's a little sprinkler at the end of a hose, with the water set to spray about a foot into the air, and I move from hill to hill in the corn patch when I need a stretch. Then I sit for a bit in the shade of the maple tree, watching the mountain across the valley.

I recommend mountain-watching. It gives one perspective.

risa b

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I used to do this a lot: pack the boat into the back of the Saturn wagon and head for a lake in either the Three Sisters Wilderness or the Waldo Wilderness, which are close by. I would pack the boat in on a pack frame that I built for it, and go trout fishing all day, then head out and drive home. Generally the trout were cooperative.

Last weekend, I revisited the idea, and drove to a trailhead where most take the right fork and I take the left fork, traveling to a 12-acre lake where I seldom meet anyone.

It's a place that pretty much requires a float tube or something, as there is only one spot where you can cast from shore.

But after my arrival at nine in the morning, just as I was about to put in, two young men with big coolers appeared, headed for that spot. I thought, "uh-oh, no fish today."

Sure enough: I couldn't drift over the deep end of the lake, because they were futilely casting in that direction, and, because they wouldn't hide after casting, all the fish spooked toward the shallow end and wouldn't try anything I offered them.

Meanwhile, the young men, with crew cuts, tattoos, three-day-old beards, Confederate t-shirts, and cigarettes, began working their coolers pretty hard. Whenever I glanced over their way, one or the other of them was --um -- watering the bushes. In plain sight, ish. They went through two six-packs by two o'clock in the afternoon.

Now, I am pretty clearly the grandmotherly type, even though I tote around a kayak in the backwoods, but eventually it dawned on me that I was alone in that section of the wilderness with two rambunctious drunks, miles from my car.

In the past, this would not have phased me much, but, then, in the past, I had large, powerful arms, a broad, hairy chest, and a beard like Rasputin's. Nowadays, from a distance (not up close, really) I'm not a bad-looking female. Sure, I carry pepper spray, but ... the smart thing to do, and in town I'm better at remembering this, is not to put yourself where you need it.

So I drifted into the shade of some mountain hemlocks, in a patch of water-lilies, and tried to wait them out at a safe distance, counting dragon-flies, water-striders, darning-needles, and the close-mouthed trout that occasionally swam by.

Nothing doing. These guys were not not getting a bite, and were desperate for something to show for their day, and had settled in to drink and cast right through sunset.

At about four, a prissy-looking gentleman in L.L. Bean shorts, packing a float tube and a fortune in fly fishing gear showed up. Saved!!!! I paddled over to the landing and packed up the boat, chatting with him over my shoulder, and was gone down the trail in three minutes.

Now. I'm sure nothing crossed the lads' minds of the sort that had alarmed me, but, you see, it was brought home to me that my circumstances have drastically changed, and I should be considering how to deal with that. I may have to begin inviting others along.

That introduces another, albeit less vexing, set of issues.

For thirty years, it would have been somewhat improper for me to invite women, because I was technically a married male.

So now I'm a "partnered" female. Well, it's still a bit odd to do that ...

Or I could invite men. The last time I went camping with a guy, in the Wallowas, I was already a girl; our spouses certainly trusted us, but we felt -- well -- a bit odd.

Beloved could go, but she doesn't fish and the mosquitoes really like her. A lot.

I'm going to have to re-arrange my itineraries, I think. Kayak -- yes. Fishing rod -- no. Invite families and women friends.

And avoid the mosquito belt.


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