Thursday, August 26, 2010

Low Expectations

At dinner one night in La Conner two weeks ago six of us suddenly got on the subject of outhouses.  Why or how I'm not sure.  It was a charming restaurant, with elegant food, certainly not suggestive of anything other than chic.  Perhaps it was my "shit-a-quart" story which took place that very day (last week's blog).  Now I was a city girl, but one in love with camping, so outhouses and "dig your own latrine"were not activities out of my frame of reference.  Also, I lived the last two years of high school in a log cabin with neither electricity nor running water. Incidently our outhouse there had a stunning view of Bear Creek.  Someone with an artistic sense planned well.  It was a well built sweet one-holer.  Sometimes I would sit there and write poetry, for at that time it was my life aspiration.  However, none of my memories matched Stacey's.  I'm hoping I can get Andrea to write out the exact details, and share it with you for next week's blog.  Soon everyone in the restaurant was gaping at us.  We laughed so hard the tears flowed.   
Back at my niece's house in Granite Falls I discovered that almost all country folk have an outhouse story to share.  Her husband rendered this one, about the primitive acreage where he grew up: One of my brothers was always the object of our jokes. Poor kid.  Our outhouse, like most in the area, had to be moved every year, and it was our job to dig the new hole and slide it on skids to the new resting place.  Naturally it got older and more ramshackle each year. It was probably built of scrap lumber to begin with.  One evening we decided to play a trick on my brother.  He was inside the outhouse with the door closed.  Quietly we built a fire on the side of the structure, planning to scare him when it started to catch.  The maneuver was ill planned, for as soon as we lit the fire, it ignited the whole structure.  My brother came screaming out.  He was terrified but safe. It was all we could do to put out the fire.  From that time on our outhouse was REALLY ramshackle.  
Now that I am 80 I appreciate indoor plumbing dearly, but wonder what good stories I'm missing.  If you have an outhouse story to share, I'd love to hear it.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

High Expectations

Arriving in La Conner, Wn. in our rental car Aug. 12, Dolores and I swooned.  Charming is the best description for the town and inn which we had had found on the internet.  Friends for 62 years, we chose this base to celebrate our joint 80th birthdays.  Our only sadness was the absence of one of our trio, Shirley, whose husband had been taken seriously ill.
When we parked outside our room at the La Conner Country Inn, we had high expectations: perfect weather, great food, a reception and a luncheon all to be shared with dear friends and family.   The skit I wrote in which six of us acted out our early months of friendship in a sorority house turned out to be a smash.  I can't imagine how the weekend could have been more fun.
On waking on the day of our party, I glanced at our car.  The whole front end seemed to be covered with something thick and white.  It enveloped the roof, the front window, the hood, and even the front bumper.  It looked like bird poop.  How could that be? I looked up at the tall tall cedars.  Of all things, we had parked under a blue heron nest!
Later I learned that the locals call them slough-pumpers, because of this habit, and the memory trail they leave is referred to as shit-a-quart.  It took many towels and washings to remove most of the traces, and there was still a white film on the windows.  To me it seemed more like shit-a-gallon.  Another precious memory to add to a perfect birthday celebration.  


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Can't Be In Control, Eighty or not

Saturday is the day planned for the big joint 80th birthday celebration for three college freshmen, Bonnie, Shirley, and Dolores, friends for 62 years, since we were thrown together as sorority roommates in 1948. The University was flooded with returning GI's celebrated the end of WW2, the last great war.
We  planned this event six months ago, because I did not want to be at home, feeling it would be too sad without Lee.  We picked a small inn over the internet in the town of La Conner, where none of us had ever been, and invited our respective families for a reception and luncheon.  As I pack today for the week's trip to the Northwest tomorrow I'm flooded with feelings: Shirley's husband lies on life support in Reno, as I write. She may not make it. My 95 year old cousin Dolly from Vancouver, BC, who was preparing a speech to give about my life, lies in Peach Arch Hospital with a broken hip.  How unpredictable is life! With luck Dolores and I and friends and family will pull it off.  Four of my friends from here are flying up, and eight of my  family members from Western Washingon will attend, as well as my great niece from Maine.  I'm sure it will be wonderful.  My dear housekeeper just arrived with a sore throat and news her daughter has strep.  I sent her home fast.  At 80 I'm still struggling to learn that no matter how hard I try, I'm not in control.  I doubt I'll ever get it!  Wish me luck.  

Friday, August 6, 2010


I squint through the thick fog which is enveloping us daily, and hear the weather man bemoaning that this is the coolest summer we have had in forty years in the Bay Area.  Still I embrace it better than the  heat enveloping most of our country.  Growing up in the Seattle area, where I will be a week from today, fog was a gentle friend, tickling my toes and fueling my imagination, and often leading me on mystical walks alone through the woods , playing tag with the Madrona trees and bracken fern and stinging nettles,  surrounding our Magnolia Bluff home.
By plan I am going back to my roots to celebrate my 80th birthday with close friends and family, a change in venue and kind of celebration for us all.  In the fall of 1948, Shirley, Dolores, and I were randomly assigned to be roommates at Delta Zeta sorority at the University of Washington. Our paths through life have been diverse, but we have remained friends for 62 years.  Egad. So it seemed fitting to come together with other friends and family for this octogenarian occasion.  
First we will hang our hats at a quaint inn, in La Conner, where on Saturday we hope to regale our audience with a skit I wrote about all the trouble we got into during our first few months of sorority living.  This will be followed by a luncheon for about forty, and toasts to our long friendship.  
I'm saddened that my cousin Dollie, 95, who was going to speak about me at the luncheon, is in the hospital with a broken hip, but my niece Cheari will speak in her place, and four of my friends from here, (Catherine, Mary, Andrea, and Stacey), will be present to liven the party.  
Meanwhile, despite the fog, this has been a historic week in so many respects: with the 9th circuit decision in San Francisco, gay marriage rights will certainly go to the Supreme court, and for the first time ever, three women will be serving on the court.  And on Cathy Lane, the elusive  puya bloom has finally opened.