Is it too late to do Spring Cleaning??? You never hear about Fall Cleaning. I'm just wondering. I had so many nice days to do Spring cleaning but there were yard sales to go to, friends to visit, scrapbooks to scrap together, puzzles to assemble, games to play. Now that we have a record-breaking Fall (instead of the usual two little days of autumn colors before ten feet of snow clouds our vision), you think today would be too late to do my Spring Cleaning?


Unemployment Blues

Today I opened my last unemployment check.

[Ominous drum roll]

It had a note at the bottom to the affect: Good luck in your job search and your future life that will not be what you have been accustomed to.

Um, there ain't no job in my future unless it is Tuesdays and Thursdays, pays well enough to feed me and not too well to impinge on my meager social security disability - which is paltry to the point, I should be eligible for food stamps. Yikes. Oh, and also, the job should be glamorous, fun, self-fulfilling, self-gratifying, and - oh, what? You mean I should have a dreary dull job just like the rest of you? Filing files, filing data cards, filing taxes, filing my nails.

Then the news came on - and I was featured!!!! Well, not me specifically, but they talked about the fact that "54% of Americans are unemployed." That is an outrageous number. For me, it has been two years of unemployment. They featured two different women, however, who have been unemployed for three years and are not covered by health insurance (or unemployment insurance).

There are people out there, lots of them, that are far worse off than me. I can't whine about this. At least I have my disability check - and I know of people that need disability but aren't eligible because either they didn't pay into social security, or their ailment isn't "bad" enough to become a category.

This is a very scary road I'm starting to travel down.


Train Lullaby

We live next to a single train track that goes through Millwood.

I kind of worried when I first moved here, how that would be. Sometimes, it is so heavy and loud, that the pictures on the wall shake, the small bottles collected over 50 years ago, vibrate to the edge of their little shelves - and we unconsciously push them back as we walk by.

I try to guess which way the train is coming from - east? west? And then it appears in my kitchen window, the engineer so close I can see him smile at me, the engine so massive I am surprised at how small the engineer is, how he can control something so huge.

At night, it passes with a different sound - it is rhythmic, subtly clunk-a-clanging along, but muted - as if the night clouds buffer it somehow. If I am awake - I am soon lulled to sleep. In fact, if I am awake, and not able to ease into sleep - I wait for the train. It is faithful and timely. Soon - soon, it will come whispering by, and I will be asleep by the time the caboose comes through.


The Kissing Gate

When I was a teenager, we lived on a little farm just outside of Spokane, where my Dad practiced being a gentleman farmer while keeping his day job as a reporter for The Spokane Chronicle. He bought a beat up old tractor and drove it around the fields, plowing just to plow. With that tractor, he built a fairly large vegetable garden outside the back yard. To get to the garden, he built an old fashioned stile. Three steps up to a landing, three steps down to the peas, beets, carrots, beans, corn, tomatoes, lettuce. We had everything you would want for vegetables. It was a heady scent, to sit on the stile at night in the moonlight.

It was to the stile that I would take my date. First we had dinner with my family, then we went hand-in-hand to the stile (I thought everyone had a stile to the garden!), and we would sit on the top step and talk, maybe kiss, smell the tomatoes, until, invariably, the back screen door would whine open, and Dad’s voice would interrupt, only 15 feet away through the Locust trees, “You kids doing anything out there?” It wasn’t really a question. It was more interpreted by my dates as, “You kids are NOT doing anything out there!” And my date would surreptitiously slip away from me a couple inches – not even close enough for kissing.

I had three young suitors go through the dating ritual with me – one became an attorney and politician here in Spokane; one became a missionary and preacher; and I married the third, had two sons, and after seven years we parted.

There was Magic in the garden stile. It was safe and there was a special aura around it – as if little fairies would float up from the garden itself. My sister also “dated” at the garden stile. I’m fairly certain we were the last virgins in Spokane County and it’s probably because of the stile.

Or maybe it was my Dad. It’s kind of hard to fool around when your Dad keeps appearing on the back porch.



The Rumors of My Death. . . .

I got home last night after being out of town for the weekend, with the first email being from someone I don't know, starting, "Remembering Art especially as the ski season approaches."

Art's dead? O my God! Art - who has been the token male in my women's dinner group for - well, since forever. He knew the rest of the gals way before me. Art - who met us at Disney World and was my personal driver to and from dialysis - where he would camp out in the lobby and visit with all the people coming in to wait for their turn on dialysis - for three and a half hours.

How could this be????

I started to weep, trying to dial one of the group - Kathy. And when I tried to subtlely find out what had happened, she was confused and said she didn't know anything. I sent her the strange email and she finally wrote back and said "I think she is trying to find Art."

This morning we all got an email from Art himself, alive and well, with a picture of him riding his motorcycle around Florida just for the heck of it, long white hair and beard blowing in the wind, and because 75 is NOT too old to have fun.

The rumor of his death is grossly exaggerated. Mark Twain was on to something there.



His Hands

I love Mechanic Man's hands.

We were at a swap meet on the west side, and he stopped to check out some clunky big greasy car part, some part that is Greek to me. He placed his hands on it, like he was caressing a baby.

I thought, what beautiful hands. Big, powerful, beefy, strong. He swings a mighty sledge hammer with those hands.

He feels motor parts with those hands. He can tell the fitness of a part, feeling the strength, or the weakness, of some heavy metal car part.

He lifts engines and other heavy equipment with those hands.

He disassembles and puts back together in intricate detail, pieces and parts, with those hands.

Such powerful, beautiful hands.

He touches me gently with those hands.


Gray Power

I got my hair cut this afternoon - Short! Short! Short!

And Gray! Gray! Gray!

I've decided I kind of like it. So, I think L'Oreal is losing one of their main customers. I should have bought stock in L'Oreal. I've supported them for many years. Once I hit my 30's and my natural auburn hair was getting a few grays in amongst the red, I bought my first hair color from L'Oreal. (After all, women older than me, at the time, were touting that we aren't getting older; we are getting better.)

It's more salt and pepper - streaks of near white. Overall - it's not a bad look. And it might even appear that I have some smarts up there - it somehow gives me a wiser demeanor. I think.

My hair stylist - Mechanic Man, of course. Gives new meaning to "only your hair dresser knows for sure" and he's not talking!!!