…But it comes!
I have most of the stuff I really need. I have a lot of stuff I want, or can get it without much effort. What I’ve wanted this year are not material goods. Peace in my soul and mind cannot be bought. While not in distress, I’ve felt better mentally.
I need a hug. Preferably from an old friend. Do Christmas wishes come true? Since Monday is also considered Christmas this year, I have until midnight to find out.
I was the first awake in the house. I skipped shaving. It’s Christmas and Sunday, for Chrissakes. Besides, I am on a mission.
I scooped up socks, stripped my bed. Stuffed an energy drink and fresh trash liner into the duffel bag, and loaded it into the granny cart.
Off to the light rail and the laundromat. Laundry is two weeks overdue, and strangers thinking I’m homeless are offering me blankets.
“Hi, this is the electrician with REACH, we’d like to come take a look at your bathroom. Would an hour be okay?”
“Of course, but knock twice at least. We are day sleepers, and might be out of it…”
Last August, during the height of home repair ambitions, I attempted to swap out the light switch in the bathroom. Sister had pointed out that the wall was hot around the light switch, alarmingly so. After much internet research and a consultation with the carpenter neighbor, I tore into the wall and immediately regretted it. The wires didn’t match. I duct taped everything, and got the electricity turned back on just before sunset. Since that time we’ve been using a Coleman lantern in the bathroom. D batteries are expensive, but one set has lasted months. It’s better than a fire.
Soon, urban lumberjacks were invading the house with ladders and groovy tools. Drills with lights inspired Alien imagery as they poked through the attic. The old ceiling fan came out, looking an accordion made of dust. While one electrician worked in the crawlspace above, the other ran wires through the wall, and soon we had light over the bathroom sink. No more shaving like Ray Charles!
Once the electricians departed, and Luna came out from under Niece’s desk, I took the inaugural shower. A hot, steamy, fog-engulfed experience had been replaced with a completely dry mirror. The air was crisp by comparison. The mold on the ceiling might eventually go away after all…
It may not seem like much, but it’s the universe’s Xmas present to us. Our most gracious thanks to you, Universe. For light. For being. For everything.
I grew up in Sandy, Oregon, 25 miles from downtown Portland and about 50 miles to Mt Hood, elevation 978 feet. (Give or take. Dad always called it “a thousand feet.”) It was colder than sea level, but hardly arctic.
Growing up a fat kid, cold didn’t bother me. I never believed in that theory anyway; my skin is on the outside where the nerves are. But as I age and lose weight, it seems like I’m cold all the time.
It hasn’t been a problem the past couple years. Winters have been rainy but not cold, and I had Rain sleeping with me, so the body heat kept my room toasty. With her gone, it’s been cold around here more ways than one.
We have a super-efficient furnace installed by the Russians that lived here previously. It’s big, meant to heat a small business. We turn it on for ten-fifteen minutes and the whole house is good for hours. Except lately, when you turn the heater on, the gas builds up and creates a scary light show when it ignites. So Sister called a repairman, who claimed “it was just dirty. $118 please!” We have a call in to him, to come move the dirt around again so we can stop shivering.I know, we’re in for a long winter if this 40-degree stuff is getting to me. But we haven’t had much cold weather. It’s been two years since I’ve worn The Great Pumpkin, but I won’t be cold if I break that out. It’s rated at -30 degrees. I’ll smoke a big fat one and slip into my Tang-colored poofy jacket. Say hi if you see me.
I was worried it was me, getting sick or something, but my niece and sister are huddling under the covers, and have made a deal with Luna. She’s guarding them furiously from the bed, all snuggling and watching cartoons until work time.
I’ve been keeping my room as warm as possible, using 60-watt bulbs in the lamp, leaving the computer on, etc… I feel like Tony Soprano wandering the property in my bathrobe. (Blue trenchcoat, not pink shorty. Rain made that bathrobe disappear. Waah.) By the time I get showered and layered up, it’ll be too goddamn hot on the bus and I’ll have to peel down.
I’m not as cold as my homeless friends. I have a roof. I have a family to keep me warm on the inside. I have a goofy dog who loves us in that unconditional way that dogs have. Luna’s growing, looks like a black Hee Haw dog. She bays at the moon when left alone, she sounds like a fire truck. Django the wandering tomcat has been spending more time at home lately. Guess he’s been getting cold too. The mice and Guinea pigs are low maintenance; happy to see us when we bring carrots and peanut butter.
Time to make the doughnuts! I’ve been steady working Friday and Saturday nights at the Nightclub Store, and I imagine tonight will be busy. Busy with thieves, scammers and those pretending to shop just to get out of the rain for a few minutes. “Snap to it, let’s go! Beep beep beep, buy your shit and get on outta here!”
There I go, being cold again…
Who says Oregonians don’t use umbrellas? A little rain doesn’t stop Niece from a morning of backyard reading.
Fall came at exactly September First. The clouds rolled in, I think it may have rained, I don’t recall. I know it looked like it was going to, and that was good enough for me.
We collapsed and retrieved the cloth-based items, like chairs and pillows. I was sure to close the vents and cover the barbecue. We don’t want an adobe oven next spring.
Not that it will take until next spring for me to barbecue, or do yard work. I was out there at 9 AM (dawn in my world) weeding the driveway. We don’t have a car, but we have room to park one.
I’m almost downtown, where the leaves are hinting at change. School is back in session, and the smell of Autumn is in the air. The sunshine was nice, but clouds and rain are more suited to my mood these days.
It’s almost time for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
It’s a couple days until August. Football season is right around the corner!
If you have cable, it’s already here. As a bored youth I remember watching the spring and summer excitement of baseball fade as football returned. Before college or pro football in the USA, there was the Canadian Football League. With their three-down possessions and extra-large field, the games were exciting. And they showed on Wednesday evening!
I will enjoy the CFL when it’s time, but tonight it’s still baseball season. Though it’s 1:30 in the morning, thanks to cable TV I can watch my dream world series match-up. Mariners vs Cubs. I already know the Cubs won 11-0, but I will watch anyway. The Harry Caray impersonators do Harry better than Harry himself. Sorry Harry, your performance has been a bit stiff of late.
While waiting for first pitch, I channel-surfed. Legends Football League? What do we have here? John Elway gang-tackled by a bunch of gimpy old guys? Couldn’t hurt to look…
I could miss the first couple innings of the Cubs game. I mean, I already know they won, right?
A short history of Portland baseball. We now resume our regular programming.
I went to a ballgame last night. It was pretty good.
It was my first visit to Walker Field, the minor league ballpark hidden in the trees of Lents Park. The Portland Pickles are in their first year, a college-level league that keeps major league-potential talent busy playing throughout the summer. Since the Portland Beavers left town, I have been to one baseball game, the Hillsboro Hops. With all due respect, it felt like Indiana and I tend to hate Hillsboro. So I was goddamn happy to have a team to root for other than the Hops. I’d had a great time with my friend, but the baseball experience left me wanting. I wanted less Christian Youth Corps and more Bad News Bears.
As the man who founded Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors said, “Give them the pickle!”
When we bought the house in 2001, the seller made some mention of birch borer disease. They said it might take a long time to kill the tree. (It did, about fifteen years.) The tree surgeon pointed down the street at neighboring houses. “They will all lose those trees if they don’t start treatment.” I’d spaced it out, and now my front yard buddy, a grand birch tree forty feet tall and shaped like the number “4”, had to come down. The city inspector said so, and an up-close look confirmed; it probably wouldn’t make it through another wind or ice storm.
Tree removal is expensive. I quizzed a neighbor who’d had one removed. $2,700. Bro-in-law asked around, his quotes ranged from $900-$1,600. I got on the phone, and with some smooth talking (and a shit-ton of good luck) the nice people at REACH Community Services offered to have it removed for me. The city inspector, a most patient fellow, gave us an extra month. Last Thursday, it was time to say goodbye to old number 4, Brett Favre…
“Well, that’s an odd way to spend your birthday, but I get it. It’s your house…” So read the text from Rain, when she asked what I was doing on my birthday.
It had been a couple years since the back yard had seen attention. I remember the good old days, when I’d trip on acid with Mizelle as the neighbors quietly listened to our stoned post-midnight ramblings. (“Zombie in the corner! Head shot!” etc…) Or drunkenly watch the October sky as rain pelted my eyeballs. It had turned into a blackberry plantation, protected by a dogshit minefield.
It was time to go to war.
Dr T was getting ready to leave work. “You need to follow her to the back room for a minute. I’ve got the front.” He went behind the cash register, and handed me the key to the office of the Nightclub Store. I fell in behind Dr T’s fiancee Jem, who had a small shopping bag. WTF?Customers followed us like puppies, so I smiled as I locked them out. “Sorry, private party.” Jem set the bag on the desk, and handed me a box wrapped in Sunday comics.
“Ooh! Eww! Raisins? That sumbitch!” Dr T knows about my love of raisins. He wouldn’t dare…
“Do you know how hard it was to buy your presents when you were standing right there?” She handed me a tiny gift bag. Inside was a salad bar of medical marijuana medibles. A week or so ago, I’d followed them to The Dispensary near work, and gave numerous reviews and accolades. I gave Dr T the full tutorial, unaware that I was picking out my own birthday party.
A small baggie with three joints, each a different strain.. Strawberry Rhino? Welcome to the gay zoo, big fella! I keep forgetting the middle strain, which was Sweet Dreams, and Tangerine Dream. OOH LOOKIE! There’s a Squib! (119 mg THC.) And a Laffy Taffy! (152 mg THC.) And some Wild Gummiez, raspberry flavored. (Four individual gummies, 25 mg each. SATIVA.) My brain was divvying them up for events, and the wrapping hadn’t hit the floor.
“Oh, here.” Jem handed me a sponge.
A sponge? I looked at it. Comic shot at me not having Rain sponging off me anymore?
“It goes with your birthday card,” said Jem.
Sure enough, inside the envelope was a card with a Build Your Own Spongebob. “Look, even Spongebob has lost weight!” The sponge was tapered inward.
“WHOOOO… Lives in a diaper
And smells like-a pee?
Derelict, vagrant and
homeless is he…
“Okay okay, that’s enough birthday song…” said Jem. I still prefer my version to the original.
We hugged, then moved the party out front, where Dr T was wrangling a corn-toothed soda-filcher. He got a hug and a hearty thank-you.
I have big plans for my birthday presents. Atypical of me, normal for a 55-year-old white hippie dude.
Off to the garden…