05 August 2021

Green Cube

 Getting to know my neighbors is a habit from childhood. It seems to have fallen out of fashion with the younger generations but I feel it's important to know your community. You never know when a neighbor will need assistance, like suffering a stroke and end up alone, yelling for help for two days from their bed. Yes, that's happened. 

Perhaps it is old school manners but its a warming thought to perhaps borrow an egg, or help get groceries for a family down with covid, or keep neighborhood watch. Yes, that's happened, too. Community is a rare find, but the memory of block parties and a billion neighbor kids in your backyard seems to fade away with the years when busy-ness and detachment appear to be more of the norm. Pandemics don't help either.

I like to sit outside and work online. Load up on vitamin D and pet the doggos of passersby. I used to sit on my back patio but a Y2K like freezer now resides in my porch haven and it appears my herb garden is now rivaling a McCormick warehouse operation.

On a side note, even if you are a brown-thumbed individual, I recommend buying an herb plant for $2 to $3. This is fool-proof. Keep it alive, your brown thumb is officially green now and you have fresh herbs. Go you! If you kill it, you now have dried herbs and you still paid a fraction of what the supermarket offers. I don't see a downside to this. Back to the patio...

I've gotten to know some neighbors by hanging out on my two story patio. Etta (not really her name but just go with it) lived across from us and would BBQ on her patio 3 to 4 times a week. The smell was heavenly and we talked about our kids. Her ex. My grades, when I was at a local college. Her very cool job tallying and reporting box office movie ticket sales. How living with lupus had its ups and downs. Most importantly, when I was coming over for dinner. Did I mention the BBQ?

Etta moved away and I met Vladamir, the new tenant in her old place. Again, that is not his name, but he is from Russia, so? I only learned about him and his family after an icy snowfall where he appeared on his patio in a t-shirt and shorts asking about the pool. I lied. He didn't really ask about the pool. 

He did tell me he was surprised at the snowfall and it reminded him of home. Then came the incident where he hit my parked car late one night and told me the next morning, not realizing he hit my van. How do you not know? I think he may or may not have been loaded on the sauce. Judging from our neighborly patio convos, this seems to be a logical conclusion. Not to worry either way. We were neighbors. He had insurance.

Once my patio was overtaken by my homesteading, I found a new perch last year, a little green utility box near the carports. It appears to be a safe perch. I have now christened this my Green Cube. I should probably name it something cool. I'm up for suggestions. Situated near the sidewalk and down a bit on a hill to give a nice low view of the side street. It is also covered by trees and graffiti, so I found it appropriate to set my 48 year old butt directly on the graffiti-ed side. Take that, gangsters. Middle aged lady sitting on your tag. On my cube. 

It hums. I'm sure its fine.

Of note: I will not share this tag which is a real prison gang symbol. What the heck. Now that I have camped out here for a few months, I'm going to be buying paint soon.

I'm enjoying my time on my cube and have met some great people.

Ron and his wife, Lauren. They've been married for 45 years. He fought in Korea. He has great stories.

Mr DJ who walks his black fluffy doggo, Shadow. Shadow was attacked by a pittie when he was a young pup. As a result, Shadow doesn't like other doggos but loves people. Shadow is a King Cocker Spaniel and Chihuahua mix. Mr DJ has disc jockeyed for many different radio stations. He likes country. His wife is a retired nurse.

Karaoke Man is known around town. He lives nearby and bikes everywhere. He turns up the juice on the amp and sings to soft hits and Motown from the 70s. Everyone knows our city's celebrity busker.

Paul lives nearby. He drives a green Kia and his wife is a pack rat. He does have a WWI Russian helmet for the low price of $600. Paul reenacts Civil War battlefields. Full dress. He plays a Confederate but he said he's not racist. It was only because they needed more Confederates and the uniforms were a lot cheaper. He also has three ex wives but now he goes to church and is happily married. He is pretty funny and his dog is very sweet. Paul will be moving by the end of the month. He is happy his new townhouse has all new appliances. 

TDG, Tall Distinguished Gentleman, walks every evening. He struts on by in a walk-jog and says ritual hellos with a trademark smile, and "have a great evening" in passing. I love his accent. It sounds almost Afrikaans or Dutch to me. 

The Lady with the Red hat. Immaculate nails, makeup, and red lipstick. Coiffed, platinum hair and smile. She never walks with anyone else but has a great hat.

Teenage Drama Boy. Shuffles by with his wiener dog. He has never looked up once and said hello. Face in the phone. 

Janet wears nothing but athletic wear. Cool shoes. She also has a friendly hello. Her Siberian Husky, "Avalanche" has places to go, things to do. Byeeeee....

Lastly, there is Rob. Rob is near and dear to me because he is outgoing, chillin like a villian, and usually stops to show me the crowned jewels of dumpster diving expeditions. He has mad skills. Rob reminds me of a surfer dude, Keanu Reeves or the Turtle Dad in Finding Nemo. A few snippets should tell you a lot about Rob.

"I live down the road..a have a totally nice house. My parents own a ton so they let me live in this one."

"I'm so off the grid. I hate cell phones. Haven't owned one in years."

"I only go to the clean dumpsters. No needles in this area. I quit that shit 20 years ago."

I asked what did he do for work, "I am a maaaan of leisure. My biggest decision is which of four bathroom I'm going to use in the morning." He nods, as if in agreement with himself.

Rob carefully opens the plastic bag to show me his newly acquired goods, "If its clothes in a garbage bag, its always clean."

Modeling a white table runner with blue stripes on the ends, "Look, I'm Jewish! I'm not really Jewish, but if I was I'd look bitchin." 

Pulls out one curtain panel, "ooh, a prayer rug!" Rob proceeded to lay this out on the side walk, kneel, face plant, and stick his rear in the air. "Like this?" 

I stifled a laugh.

"So Rob, did you grow up around here?"

"I graduated in Portland. '92. I've done okay with myself."

Switching gears, Cali Boy is excited. "OOOH, I have a uniform now." Holds up full Subway uniform. Pulls on the T-shirt over his clothes and yanks on the hat. He's animated now. He grabs the jean jacket out of bag, "Duude. And a coat! I look rad, don't I?" Strutting ensues. He is couched somewhere between drunk chicken and a Monty Python sketch.

"Oh, and these aren't used, but..." Point Break looks dead serious and holds up a clear industrial plastic bag of unused Depends, "You know of anyone who has a diaper fetish?"

"Nooo?" I say, while trying not to laugh, "Can't say that I do."

His face relays all the seriousness of death and taxes, "Well, these are going back.." as he bolts across the street to return some item to an oversized apartment dumpster.

I find him hilarious. Sometimes I see him drive by and wave to him in his beater Expedition haphazardly overfilled with cardboard, garbage sacks, and other questionable detritus.  

Neighbors are an oddity. I don't really have any initial connection to them except I live closely. The rest is up to me to foster good relations, or not, and from the best vantage. My little green cube.

~Bee does her best work outside.
Listening to The Search by NF

 ░B░e░e░ ░R░e░p░a░r░t░e░e░



04 August 2021

Guiltless Pleasures

Hi, Dear Readers.

Its time to clip my nails. 

Cann you teell?

I have few guilty pleasures and no, clipping nails isn't one of them. Specifically, I have exactly zero guilty pleasures because nothing accomplished in a healthy way causes me regret. I've never subscribed to the ideal that a luxury, hobby, or a soul-feeding activity should make me feel guilty. Chocolate? No. Cheesecake. Bread. Food as a whole and carbs in general. But this extends to more than just food. 

Everyone should have something that feeds their soul. This is especially true for parents. Nothing is as rewarding as children. Nothing is as draining either. I know, because I am one. A parent. Not a child. You get it...

Reading, hiking, a daily coffee with a friend, the gym, or a continuously clean house. Self-care is the catalyst to being at your personal best to be healthy and able to give back. If the last year and a half taught us anything, it taught us what is important. To enjoy life to the fullest, hold close those who you care about and love, and not feel guilty about any of it. Feeling guilty implies you have bad or unhealthy motives. Taking care of you is far from unhealthy.

My non-guilty pleasures? I get my nails shellacked. As a former compulsive nail biter, this was a Good Thing. Makes me feel feminine and put together.

A glass of wine. Imported beer. A finger of whiskey nightcap.

When I went to a job, before I was a girl boss, I used to do my daily Starbucks run. Now I buy Beaniac K pods (compostable!) and I have my coffee at home while saving my pocketbook and the planet. 

Reading. I'm a fiction reader. Sometimes, I'll throw in science writing, a rare biography, or cookbooks. My To-Be-Read pile is forever growing. I read to escape. Calms my brain.

 I swim and go to the gym. Endorphins and stress relief.

Morning coffee, mixed with protein and vitamins, along with collagen. I'm not a big breakfast person, aside from eating out. This helps get me going.

Plants. I own several....dozen.... plus. I find great joy in not killing my Boston fern, climbing roses, snake plant, hoya, clematis, flowers, and pothos plants.  I also have a nice herb garden, if I say so myself. 

No guilt. Just self-care. However that looks to you. Just do it.

~Bee says take care of you.

Listening to whatever musical my daughter has playing.

18 August 2020

Wonder Woman and Moonshine

Big Sis (R) and Me (L). circa 1978
These are the faces of backyard sprinkler antics fueled by 
 Chocolate Nestle Quik and salads with roquefort dressing.

This past weekend, I visited my sister. Its only an hour away and its great to be able to see her and her hubs, Chris...and my mom. They invited me down to sell and help in their town's annual city wide garage sale. I had a van full of goodies to sell and planned time with family. Win, win.

It was fairly hot outside. I showed up early in the morning. We lounged in retro, reclining dining chairs lavishly equipped with four roller casters and wood trim. Upholstered in swirly blue, cream, and sand colored durable fabric, these were the epitome of 1980s dining. 

After brainstorming to get more traffic at our sale, Chris went down to the Dollar Store and bought balloons for the end of the drive. It helped a little. We kept to the shade, sipped drinks, and soaked in vitamin D while the masses descended. All five of them. 

Our little sale was what they call a bust.

I take that back. Dev and Chris made out better than I did. I earned enough money for a value menu nuggets at Wendy's. It was too hot outside, I think. and we were tucked back in a flag lot in a subdivision.

This is the part where we called it an afternoon. Rolling up our proverbial tables and jonesin for fish and chips, we had limited dining options, no thanks to the risible Gov Kate Brown. Although, our saving grace: when you want pub food, the best place to go is....well, a pub.

After a good Porter, excellent fish and chips, and prize winning onion rings, we threw a few bucks in the slot machines. Did you know pubs have slot machines in Oregon? I had no clue. Silly victory dances ensued. Wins punctuated with dinging and whistling.

$1.25 win?

Three matching symbols...
*110 decibles*

Needless to say, my weekend of debauchery did not end in eating fried food, in front of Wonder Woman slots, at a pub in the wild countryside of Oregon.

We stopped at the store on the way home so I could pick up supplies for Shark Week. You know...Girl Flu. Lady Business....but Oregon doesn't want you using a plastic bag to carry your supplies out of the store. Living just across the Washington Oregon border on the Washington side, I've grown accustomed to the differences between the states.

(I do have a point to this. Quit whining or go make me a sandwich.)

In Oregon, you can't pump your own gas, you do pay zero sales tax but a hefty state income tax, and you can't buy wine at the gas station. Oregon is also an anti-plastic bag state unless you are wealthy enough to pay five cents for every reusable plastic bag you bring home. It is widely acceptable to skirt environment laws if you have enough money to pay for every bagging convenience. Conversely, five cents a bag is an affordable way to line your diaper pails and bathroom garbage cans. You can't buy them cheaper. But I digress...

A red-faced teen boy was my cashier. He looked mortified. I got outside and pulled off my mask while waving my sole purchase in the air like I just don't care

I'm over thirty, the approximate age where you stop getting embarrassed over inconsequentials. You know why? Because I really just don't care and it'll probably make my sister laugh by holding pads up to my face like some Orbit Gum commercial. 

Kind of like this, but I never wear 
a pith helmet or white jumpsuits.

Dev was in the car with the AC going. I'm waving pads around like, "HEYYYY, BAGLESS OREGON, CANT YOU SEE? I GOT A PACK OF ALWAYS THIN PADS WITH WINGS, BITCHES!"  

If you didn't realize, I'm ridiculous sometimes. Dev just grins and rolls with it. She is also over 30 years old.

We got home and hung outside until we abandoned the sale in the driveway before dinner. Dev got an invite to a block birthday party from the neighbors. Apparently, the neighbors were all related in that corner of the subdivision. Lots of siblings, aunts, and cousins; all with big families. It was a crazy shin dig. 

 BBQ smelled amazing, lots of food, drinks, and two large dogs chasing so, so many kids. Kids everywhere, cycling, running around, playing Barbies, trying to sneak cake, drinking too much soda. Everyone was so welcoming and genuine. 

 Most of the guys were crammed into the house with the fight on the big screen. Occasionally, the grunt volume would increase depending on who was winning. Moonshine was passed around in a canning jar. One of the brothers, offered my sis the first sip of a newly made jar and I tried it next. I wouldn't have tried it otherwise, not during COVID from a community glass. From the strength of that sip, I would assume homemade hooch kills COVID as well as your liver. And also strips varnish or make you see God if you drink too much. Then our host issued the warning to those imbibing: avoid open flame and driving. Safety first kids.

We sang to the sweet, 15 year old, birthday girl and the adults lit off fireworks and mortars. That was about the time the police drove up the cul de sac warning the owner about a noise complaint. The policeman was a nice guy doing his job, no mention of fireworks, social distancing, drinking outside the house on the lawn, or even face masks, just letting everyone know it wasn't 10pm...yet.

At 10pm, we disbanded and walked back home. I ended up falling asleep at 11 or midnight on the couch while my sister made bigger signs for the next day. Garage sale flop didn't matter much, it was a great weekend with my sis and the family.

Bee thought moonshine was delicious.
Listening to September by Earth, Wind, and Fire (you know why, Dev!)

01 July 2020

Mid Life Awakenings

I had the itch to write today and thought, "Self. You should write today. What's the big gap in writing on your blog? Do you not love it anymore? Do you think you're too busy? Can't you shave your legs sometime this month?"

I talk to myself a lot.

Everyone says they are busy - a natural response. Busy-ness makes you feel this is a solid reason for not keeping in touch with your friends. It isn't, but it feels like a good excuse. It's not like we have time because we've all been quarantined in a giant pandem... oh, yeah. Nevermind.

What have I been doing? I've been going through my mid-life crisis. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've realized gravity is a not my friend, I'm starting to forget details.  I'm not buying anything spandex anytime soon. Aging is a reality but not something to freak over. I once read Nora Ephron's book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck". I wasn't impressed. The author was attempting to spin humor in her dry way by commiserating with her readers about aging as a wealthy woman. Organizing a purse. Making too much money to keep her upper Manhattan rent-controlled apartment. Graying hair and *oh noes* looking homeless due due to slacking on personal upkeep. The woman wrote brilliant movies. Whining about first world aging problems fell flat. Mud facial flat and not the good kind.

I've embraced my place in life and aging in a matter of fact way and somewhat like Nora, can laugh about it. I can hold off aging so much, as to not look like a shrunken head by the time I'm 50. But I earned my neck. I shop at Target with coupons. No shame in that.

As a evolving 40 something woman, and I say this because I am one, I've decided to take up new hobbies, New Things that I've done this year.

Play pool (badly)

Go to the casino and play slots for the first time.

Reading myriad books..okay, not a New Thing but still... mysteries have replaced historical fiction, fare of the day.

I tried pot (legal in my state). One drag, didn't like it, didn't feel it, and it stinks. 

I've decided I've enjoyed cooking but I hate dirty dishes.

Making my business grow, but it's not my entire life. Work to live, not live to work.

I relish an occasional evening mini cigar and finger of whiskey. Neat.

New tune genres: new country, EDM, lo-fi, and chillwave.

Family is everything.

My kids...oh, my youngest is now 17 and driving, schooling, and working. My oldest is 23, married to a sweet Russian boy. I'm going to be a grandma in March. Her and hubs will make chubby, adorable babies. I don't feel old enough to be a grandma.

Bible apps. I read and pray. Love all. Not in spite of differences, but because of differences. Jesus died on the cross for everyone's sin but He would have done it for just me. If I was the only one in ever to sin. That's what love looks like.

I love talking to people about knitting yarn, genealogy, and stupid, blowhard, pontificating, duplicitous politics. There is so much to talk about lately.

I'm so freaking proud of my kids. They amaze me everyday.

I have what hubs has dubbed "an old lady garden" on my back patio. Foliage is green and bountiful. Flowers beautiful. I don't care if anyone thinks it's stupid. I love it. I'm on the hunt for a pink plastic flamingo because I want one. My hummingbirds love the feeder and red flowers. I'm growing basil and rosemary out my bung hole. My climbing clematis, dahlias, and rose bush are gorgeous.

These are unabashedly, unashamedly, and unapologetically me. I decided in December to make a change. I've lost 45 lbs despite COVID. I need to lose more but that will happen when it's safe to visit a gym. Since I quit my last job, I'm down 70lbs. Go me.

All of this, I've been informed by the world, is my mid life crisis. I believe in personal growth and evolution. Do New Things that scare you, thrill, bring peace, joy, fulfillment, and fill your emotional tanks. Do New Things that make the world better for other people.

This is me and all the New Things. (Sorry, Mom. I said "bung hole")

Bee is doing weird stuff now.
Listening to DGAF by Noah Slee, Shiloh Dynasty
(because the bass is sick)