Halloween 2013

Hugo as a zombie prisoner and Seth as Mother Bates

Hugo as a zombie prisoner and Seth as Mother Bates

image image imageI started at 6 am, getting up to put on my make up and get to work…these are a few of my co workers costumes from the morning shift.  Plus putting make up on the kids, the street dance, herding trick or treaters, making snacks and finishing up with a scary movie night?….It’s time for me to say good NIGHT!!! Happy Halloween!

I was a Banshee, but I didn't get anyone to take a picture of my costume!

I was a Banshee, but I didn’t get anyone to take a picture of my costume!

A good witch

A good witch

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ccupcakes from hell...they actually fell onto the front steps and this is what was left...oops

ccupcakes from hell…they actually fell onto the front steps and this is what was left…oops

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My Journey in Pictures

We had good neighbors there - Dick and his dog Kip, woud come over for tea every day

We had good neighbors there – Dick and his dog Kip, woud come over for tea every day

Last year at this time… Do you ever do that? I do. I always have. It’s a way of reminding myself of what I’ve done, haven’t done and want to do. A way of being thankful.

Me and my sisters this time last year

Me and my sisters this time last year

This time last year we were moving. After a long drawn out battle with our negligent landlord we gave up and moved. There were mould issues that she wouldn’t address. There was a 100′ tree hanging over the bedrooms that had just began a slow collapse.

Our flower garden getting ready to move

Our flower garden getting ready to move

But we loved that house. Really. Even with all the problems it was in a lovely setting and the garden was our beautiful creation. It was so hard to leave it. And, worst of all? I was feeling awful. I was weak and tired all the time.

But that was stress, right? YOU think about moving a big henhouse from where it was entrenched and tell me you wouldn’t stress. How do you move chickens? That alone made me want to curl up in a ball and start screaming.

See that big old henhouse behind me? THAT'S only one of the two we had to move! This time last year? aaaiiieeeeeee!!!!!!

See that big old henhouse behind me? THAT’S only one of the two we had to move! This time last year? aaaiiieeeeeee!!!!!!

Baby Silkies: Small - but don't tell them that.

Baby Silkies: Small – but don’t tell them that.

Chickens. I couldn’t get the two different flocks to stop fighting each other. They never got along. It was the Jets and the Sharks. If they were within some imaginary, arbitrary distance from each other they would fight. ‘Oh, gee, won’t it be lovely to have free range chickens, Laura?’ No. It won’t be. Now I know better. Different sized chickens don’t get along. And you can’t protect free range chickens. They free range all over hell and gone. Into the neighbors yards. Way back to the tree where the owl lived.

They look so cuddley and sweet...and they are. If you're not another chicken!

They look so cuddley and sweet…and they are. If you’re not another chicken!

They’d go stand all over the road. Once in awhile they’d just vanish for hours. When it started getting dark they’d come back. Most of them. Then we’d have to go look for Annie or Nina or whoever was missing. You’d hear their cackles of panic when they realized they were alone and lost. Follow the sound. Pull them out of whatever tree they’d retreated to. They have absolutely NO sense. But they’re really smart. Yeah, chickens. Clever and stupid.

I LOVE my chickens...me and Nina

I LOVE my chickens…me and Nina

This time last year I was driving all over creation trying to find a house and not just any house. It had to accept 3 dogs and 25 chickens, two cats and us. Not an easy proposition.

Every morning I got up at 4:30 am for work. After work I’d go look at houses. Every house that was listed for rent, I would go see. I couldn’t afford not to look at everything. Places too far from work? I’d go see it, telling myself that it wouldn’t be too bad a commute. An hour or two. Each direction. I would go and check it out. I looked at 3 story, 100 year old places with only a wood stove to heat it and startlingly bad wall paper everywhere, unfenced places next to highways, old falling down houses with brother in law handyman renovations, I drove and drove and drove. Looking. I didn’t know what I was going to see, but I had to keep trying.

The vegetable garden

The vegetable garden

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Last year, the farewell to the old...

Last year, the farewell to the old…

It was even harder because I had a car with no reverse. I had to be extremely careful about where I was going and what the driveway looked like. Getting trapped in a downward sloping driveway or a place I couldn’t turn around was my daily nightmare.

That and packing with no where to go? Can you imagine?

I was sometimes so stressed out that I had to remind myself that confidence came from within. That positive thinking and an upbeat attitude had gotten me through worse times that this. I was confident. I told myself to see the house in my mind. See it. Visualize the house. Don’t let this beat you. I was going to find a house. This next house would be IT! A perfect 3 bedroom house, for less rent, walking distance to the beach, 15 minutes from work, that would take chickens and dogs and cats. A place we could garden and sit in the sun. A place that was new or at least not neglected, that would be easy to clean and easy to heat. That’s what I wanted.

Building the new garden and seeing it come to life

Building the new garden and seeing it come to life

And that’s what I found. And not only that, but landlords who are kind, patient, decent and fair.

That’s what I did last September and October. I looked and when I got home, I packed. November we moved. December we unpacked and got ready for Christmas. But, boy did I feel awful. But I didn’t mention it. Just to my doctor. Didn’t want to worry anyone. Little did I know that I was about to find myself in the battle of my life.

Me, 6 months ago

Me, 6 months ago

I pride myself on my sense of humor. I am always smiling. I love life. Life was a banquet, maybe just a Golden Corral banquet, but I had a choice of what I took and what I left off of my plate.

Sure it wasn’t a George V Hotel banquet with nice linen napkins and chandeliers and jumbo shrimp but it was the way things played out for me. My decisions all the way across the board. That’s what I thought.

But life has a way of forcing you to pay attention to what decisions you make. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months. Paying attention to every thing I do. Trying to believe in positive visualization. Trying to believe that I wasn’t dying. Trying to understand that it could happen anyway. Then thrusting that thought away.

Me, this time last year

Me, this time last year

It’s like this house. I just have to believe that it can be done. We found our house. The perfect house with less rent, nice landlords who accepted our chickens and pets. We have our garden, our sunshine…I just need to keep thinking like that.

Welcome to the Maison Bentley Style Blog Party!

My dearest Kate at Maison Bentley Style is having a party and you’re all invited. She knows so many talented, funny, smart and wonderful people that if you just follow the link on over there you’ll be invited to other parties in the blogosphere and you might even find amazing and new things that you knew nothing about.  MaisonBentleyStyle@wordpress.co

Kate, for instance, is an astounding photographer with a special eye for architecture and colours, to say nothing of fashion. I remember when I was just starting off on my hellish journey, I stumbled across her blog and just gazed in wide wonder at her post on floors. Thats right. The ground. Sidewalks, pavements, tile, lino what have you. Do you ever look down? I started to and I was truly amazed at what I was seeing. Check it out.

So, I have my makeup only half done. I decided to go ala Roy Lichtenstein tonight.

Me in my PARTY make up!

Me in my PARTY make up!

Let’s see here…maybe a drink…

oops, damned umbrella!

oops, damned umbrella!

And I’ve got to have some party food…

OH SERIOUSLY!!! That’s NOT party food….

chili cheese dogs...ymmmm! No, but seriously. I haven't been able to eat hot dogs and...well, to ME? This is my party food of choice tonight. To hell with the dress! If I get a stain...oh, wait! This is the Maison Bentley Party! I'll never have to worry about a chili stain on my dress. YAY!!!

chili cheese dogs…ymmmm! No, but seriously. I haven’t been able to eat hot dogs and…well, to ME? This is my party food of choice tonight. To hell with the dress! If I get a stain…oh, wait! This is the Maison Bentley Party! I’ll never have to worry about a chili stain on my dress. YAY!!!

So, now I’ve got the hair and makeup done…food is here (yummmm chili cheese dogs!) OH, I need the perfect dress. Lets see…

Is it TOO much?

Is it TOO much?

Maybe it’s too much….but I have an idea…

Can you imagine eating a chili cheese dog in THIS?

Can you imagine eating a chili cheese dog in THIS?

This little Christian Dior number might keep me from eating TOO many chili cheese dogs

This little Christian Dior number might keep me from eating TOO many chili cheese dogs

No, I can’t either even though I LOVE it…how about shoes?

With these shoes...

With these shoes…I could conquer the world!

 

So, my ‘puter is acting up, its a miracle that’s ive gotten this far.

Cheers to all you lovely partiers! Enjoy!

Welcome to the Maison Bentley Style Blog Party!

My dearest Kate at Maison Bentley Style is having a party and you’re all invited. She knows so many talented, funny, smart and wonderful people that if you just follow the link on over there you’ll be invited to other parties in the blogosphere and you might even find amazing and new things that you knew nothing about.  MaisonBentleyStyle@wordpress.co

Kate, for instance, is an astounding photographer with a special eye for architecture and colours, to say nothing of fashion. I remember when I was just starting off on my hellish journey, I stumbled across her blog and just gazed in wide wonder at her post on floors. Thats right. The ground. Sidewalks, pavements, tile, lino what have you. Do you ever look down? I started to and I was truly amazed at what I was seeing. Check it out.

So, I have my makeup only half done. I decided to go ala Roy Lichtenstein tonight.

Me in my PARTY make up!

Me in my PARTY make up!

Let’s see here…maybe a drink…

oops, damned umbrella!

oops, damned umbrella!

And I’ve got to have some party food…

OH SERIOUSLY!!! That’s NOT party food….

chili cheese dogs...ymmmm! No, but seriously. I haven't been able to eat hot dogs and...well, to ME? This is my party food of choice tonight. To hell with the dress! If I get a stain...oh, wait! This is the Maison Bentley Party! I'll never have to worry about a chili stain on my dress. YAY!!!

chili cheese dogs…ymmmm! No, but seriously. I haven’t been able to eat hot dogs and…well, to ME? This is my party food of choice tonight. To hell with the dress! If I get a stain…oh, wait! This is the Maison Bentley Party! I’ll never have to worry about a chili stain on my dress. YAY!!!

So, now I’ve got the hair and makeup done…food is here (yummmm chili cheese dogs!) OH, I need the perfect dress. Lets see…

Is it TOO much?

Is it TOO much?

Maybe it’s too much….but I have an idea…

Can you imagine eating a chili cheese dog in THIS?

Can you imagine eating a chili cheese dog in THIS?

This little Christian Dior number might keep me from eating TOO many chili cheese dogs

This little Christian Dior number might keep me from eating TOO many chili cheese dogs

No, I can’t either even though I LOVE it…how about shoes?

With these shoes...

With these shoes…I could conquer the world!

 

So, my ‘puter is acting up, its a miracle that’s ive gotten this far.

Cheers to all you lovely partiers! Enjoy!

The Great Macaroni and Cheese Cook Off

I never could keep my mouth shut. Braggadocio? Bravado? Vodka? Whatever it was that prompted me to announce to a roomful of excellent cooks that I made the best macaroni and cheese ever, also prompted me to challenge them to a cook off.

I printed off my invitations, thinking that, at the most, maybe Michele, Liza and Marco would take me up on the actual cooking of Mac n’ Cheese. And you know with parties, you have to invite 30 if you want 20 to come?

By the next day I’d gotten 5 responses to participate. By day two, there were 8, then 15 and they kept coming…bored anyone? I guess I’d forgotten how slow things were after Christmas. People were just champing at the bit to get out of their houses and into someone else’s, preferably with lots of Mac n’ Cheese.  And beer. You never, ever went to someone’s house without beer. (Or something like it-remind me to tell you about the Yukaflux party)

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By the day of the party I had 10 macaroni’s coming and about 20 tasters. I thought. Then friends told friends and they told some people and I had a paaarty going on. It was an accident, I swear. That’s what I told the people who called and wanted to know why they weren’t invited.

The morning of the party I went over to visit Jesse, who is a young guy with a big masonry business. He wasn’t a cook. But he was cooking. And so was Isaac, his buddy. And Tanner was bringing a macaroni and cheese. So was Liza. And Shawn had a recipe. It was called Fridge Door Macaroni and Cheese. And Claudia, my next door neighbor. And Michele, from up the Valley. And Marco and the list went on. I was getting nervous. Just how many macaroni and cheeses were coming?

It turns out A LOT were coming. In fact, out of everybody who responded, and most of the people who didn’t respond but showed up anyway, all but three were bringing a dish.

I’m great under pressure. I invited the teenagers. I started calling all of Madeleine’s friends and asking them if they wanted to eat macaroni and cheese. As much as they wanted. It was a stroke of genius. They got to go to a ‘grown up’ party and I got rid of 50 lbs of mac and cheese leftovers.

By the time the party started I had my house crammed with people. Everyone had already done the cooking so I was in charge of heating and serving. Talk about hard work. I’d heat up 3 or 4, hand them to the judges. Teenagers really DO have a fabulous palate for macaroni and cheese. They took their duties very seriously. After the judges got their samples, I’d hand out plates of whatever was left to who ever was standing nearby. Then start the next round.

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By 10pm it was done. It was up to the judges. I’d had them write down the points based on pasta, cheese flavour, appearance and originality. Mine was a plain, cheddar cheese pasta with crumbs baked on top. How could I compete?

There were macaroni and cheeses with buffalo chicken wings, hamburger, elk, moose, peppers and veggies, 5 cheeses, a dark beer cheese sauce, eggs, Shawn made his Fridge Door mac n’ cheese, which consisted of him standing at the fridge door and adding a dash of this and a pinch of that and a shake of this, all from his impressive collection of condiments from his fridge door. And lots of hamburger and cheese.  That was the winner. Second place went to the chicken wing/hot sauce mac ‘n cheese. Third place went to Michele who is the uncontested best cook in the valley and, given that it was teens judging and her’s, like mine, was plain cheese, it was an honor.

Fun? Hell yes. The kitchen looked like a bomb went off in it.

imagebut that’s the beauty of small towns. By the time we were planning on moving the party over to the Columbia Inn, my girlfriends had cleaned up the kitchen, the teens were safely at home (presumably) and I was a hero, having started a new wave of parties. The competition parties. There was a Hot Wing Party, a Meatball Party, a Cake Party…for all I know they may still be doing it.

And I’ve perfected my Mac and Cheese now. So bring it on!

My Week in Pictures

My week in pictures…

Sunday afternoon football spread

Sunday afternoon football spread

Bella got groomed!

Bella got groomed!

Seattle fireboats

Seattle fireboats

Arriving in Seattle for my appt. What a perfectly lovely day!

Arriving in Seattle for my appt. What a perfectly lovely day!

Great view of Elliot Bay

Great view of Elliot Bay

Hood Canal oysters with raspberry granitas are delicious!

Hood Canal oysters with raspberry granitas are delicious!

Indoor waterfalls, saltwater pools with big salmon, jazz trio and great service

Indoor waterfalls, saltwater pools with big salmon, jazz trio and great service

Beautiful inside and out...the Palisade

Beautiful inside and out…the Palisade

My favorite place on the waterfront to wait for the ferry

My favorite place on the waterfront to wait for the ferry

On my way home, Seattle from the ferry.

On my way home, Seattle from the ferry.

Nice day for an autumn drive

Nice day for an autumn drive

The lavender farm near Port Angeles

The lavender farm near Port Angeles

Pretty farm land on my way to pick up my brother from the ferry

Pretty farm land on my way to pick up my brother from the ferry

They don't call it Fat Smitty's for no reason.

They don’t call it Fat Smitty’s for no reason.

You won't find salmon on the menu-just on the wall

You won’t find salmon on the menu-just on the wall

Money goes to Seattle children's hospital. Burgers go straight to my butt.

Money goes to Seattle children’s hospital. Burgers go straight to my butt.

Otis didn't eat his present from Mr. Sugarbears....

Otis didn’t eat his present from Mr. Sugarbears….

I ate Mr. Sugarbears present.

I ate Mr. Sugarbears present.

But I'm still pretty cute, right?

But I’m still pretty cute, right?

Little Miss Marker and the Troll

Little Miss Marker. That’s me.

It’s hard not to think about what’s going on inside me. It’s like being on a road and you know, you absolutely know, that there’s a monster, a troll, hiding somewhere. Crunching rocks, spitting, stupid mean, it’s my monster. I can walk slowly or recklessly fast. I can put on the flashlight or walk in the darkness. It doesn’t matter. There’s a monster on the road ahead.

From the Norwegian movie Trollhunter - see  it if you can. It's really good.

From the Norwegian movie Trollhunter – see it if you can. It’s really good.

I like to think I’m getting better but the fact is that this is a chronic condition. It will never go away. I carry the marker. The fucked up strand of DNA that allowed the beast to incubate. It was the little marker that I lived with all my life. The sign. I lived in ignorance and bliss. Little Miss Marker was there. I didn’t know.

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I can see her. Sometimes I picture her so I can destroy her. I can’t ignore the fact of this monster. I know now. She’ll never go away.

Today was so beautiful. The leaves are changing here in the Pacific Northwest. The sky is full of towers of clouds in every shade of soft gray and pale blue, with distant glimpses of white buried deep inside. Grey the colour of the ash of a hot fire. Ponderous moving pillars that tear apart stickily to show a sky that was a blue that isn’t cerulean, it isn’t deep, powder blue, or pink. It’s all that. Hail turned the road white this morning, pinging, then ripping and pounding and, finally, ticking ticking on the car. I drove out of it. It was like an invisible wall. Hail. Then nothing. A dry road ahead. I drove with my windows down, I like that. The feel of the rain and hail blowing into the car. The sound. The wind had picked up and I could feel it, smell it, blowing along the pavement. Sweeps of leaves, the trees were roaring. It sounded like the ocean. A red and gold and green ocean.

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And I can’t help thinking that this will all be here next year. But maybe I won’t be. All the things I love will be here and all my past will disappear in a gulp. Some pictures left. Some stories that people tell even though it hurts to remember what happened.
A couple of times, every so often, people will raise a glass and say ‘Here’s to Laura. She was…’ Whatever they’ll say. It doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is ‘was’. She was.

This morning I woke up and I was afraid. I drank tea and read some blogs and answered some emails and made an appointment with the acupuncturist…I stood leaning out my bedroom window, looking at the rain coming down, watching out for the big spider that is living in the corner of the frame. I don’t mind her. She’s just trying to survive. My cat, Mr. Jones, came and sat with me on the window ledge, watching the rain. He was purring. I like the way he smells. He smells like flowers. He doesn’t mind when I bury my face in his fur.

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I decided to get out. Drive somewhere. I like driving. I put on Hank Williams and sang along with every track. I know every word to every song. All 24 of them. I went to the Goodwill and bought a sweater and a big plate. We don’t need big plates but I bought it because I liked the fish painted on it. It was only 5$. I went to Sears to pick up a pair of cheap waterproof boots I’d ordered online. They’re too tight but I took them anyway. I don’t know why. I stopped at the outlet grocery store and bought cheese and tin foil. Some organic coconut palm sugar, whatever that is.

Right now I’m sitting in a local dive called Helter Skelter. It’s got a picture of Charles Manson on the marquee and a nicely framed picture of him with the swastika carved into his forehead right inside the door. It’s next to a tattoo parlour. It looks scary but the logo was what made me stop the first time I saw it. I thought ‘They’ve gotta be kidding.’ The owner said the name and the Charles Manson logo keeps out the straight people. The un fun crowd who care about things like that. Ha. He’s right. This is a working class place. Its full of nice blue collar guys. I buy football squares here. Drink a beer with the regulars. Sit and write when I’m alone. Try not to think. Listen to the guys cussing and swearing and laughing about someone almost capsizing their boat last weekend, the problems with the fishing industry, the shipyard and whether it’s hiring, cooking for the kids. Nice, manageable problems. No monsters here.

Except Charlie.

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I have to go home. I can’t sit here much longer. The ipad is losing juice and so am I. I like to think I’m going to stay here for a couple or three hours, drinking, talking, writing, but that’s not going to happen. I’m sick. I tire easily. My feet are on fire from neuropathy. I am tired. I have to fight even when I don’t want to. I want peace. Quiet. But I won’t stop fighting. The only thing I have is my rusty bent coat hanger. Like that girl in the movie. Like that post I wrote back when fighting this was easy. I’ve got to get away. Use whatever I can. Escape the monster and run away.

Screw all this. Being afraid of the CT scan, what the blood tests say, whether I’m doing everything I can. I don’t want to admit that even changing the sheets on my bed tires me out. Work is harder than I thought it was going to be. The whole year is shot. This time last year I was so sick. We were moving. It was a nightmare. At least I thought it was. I was wrong though. That wasn’t the nightmare…it was just gathering steam.

Fuck.