Month: March 2010

03.31.10 opinionated

I was just informed I can’t be a kept woman as I am too opinionated. Evidently the other assets would pass inspection.

In national news: potential for hung Parliament? Possible invocation of Lascelles principles?

Oh, how I long for voting rights!


3.23.2010 treats

Happy, happy, happy birthday wishes to my excellent mother! Thank you for bringing me into the world, and keeping me alive love enough to see it. Wish I could be there to celebrate. I owe you countless treats!

Point Defiance, 1974:


3.23.2010 reform

Well golly; never thought I would live to see US health care reform pass….

Now for the messy bit: implementation.

I’m reserving judgment on whether it will work as stated, or turn into yet another quagmire. Those of us with pre-existing conditions (and money + jobs) are definitely better off than before, but it will take at least ten years of of tricky machinations before we know how the new system will work. Or fail.

Particularly the risk pools: will we be purchasing high quality care, or bog standard neglect? Massive inequalities between have and have-nots appear to remain an enshrined principle.

Let me know how it looks in a decade or so.

Personally I prefer the NHS model. Indifferent care for everyone! Hurray!

Give me unwashed hands but true equality, any day, anywhere.


3.21.2010 goggles

First picnic, first daffodils, and the Strawberry Fair has been cancelled – triple hurray!

As I ran errands today a hooded youth approached in the city centre and demanded “give me money!” Lucky for him, it was my kid. Main clue? The aviator goggles.


3.17.2010 surprise

Why does it always surprise me that I possess the archives for the Washington State Governors’ School for Citizen Leadership? I’ve been dragging the stuff around for what, twenty-one years?

Anyone else want a turn? There is lots of good stuff, including all of our various appearances in the media… and quite an assortment of other juvenilia. Including “poetry.”

I won’t share the photographs. Too incriminating!


3.13.2010 boxes

If I give away my transistor radio collection, I will forget I ever had such a thing. Right? Right.

Moving is always difficult. Moving a mass of unsorted junk complicates the process. The lack of a stated destination is one challenge too many!

Also: if I lived in the states, there would be more than one store selling moving boxes. And they would all be open past six pm.

I spent the afternoon contemplating boxes of unsent thank you letters spanning four decades of graduations, weddings, births, awards. Is it sadder that I wrote, but did not mail? Or that I kept them through twenty or more moves…. across two continents?

The clothing collection that once required 750 sq feet of storage has been ruthlessly reduced to fit in four medium boxes. Not including handbags, obviously.

My favorite observation so far: shredding unopened love letters is a uniquely rewarding experience.

But hey! I miss these glasses! Why do I still have a newspaper clipping, but not the desired object?!


3.10.2010 storage

I have not made a decision about where to go, but I know that I am going, and this means it is time to purge.

My possessions have been languishing in various hidden corners, and this week I decided to deal with the worst of the lot.

The Eames lounge has been on loan to teenage offspring, and upon retrieval is found to be rapidly disintegrating; I’ll need to have the leather replaced. Most of the other large pieces have been in a borrowed garden shed, and when I opened it I found the Wegner sofas are moldy… though salvageable.

Trunks that have traveled across continents and centuries, however, have been destroyed by damp. I stood staring, aghast. Byron looked from my face to these heirlooms, and after a pause said I am so sorry I didn’t organize my life fast enough to save your things.

It had to be stated out loud, I suppose.

The apology is officially accepted.


3.3.2010 sterling

The only thing I am reluctant to leave behind is my boat – because, while life on the river can be difficult, it is also extremely cheap.

Other river dwellers will claim otherwise; I suspect because they do not want to share the lifestyle with outsiders. And it might be expensive, if you merely wish to maintain a leisure craft.

Living on a boat though? If you already own one (and I do), the yearly outlay is insignificant.

Our boats use tax exempt petrol, it costs about 40 pounds sterling (and from here on please imagine the notation for pounds sterling, as my keyboard is unable to type it) to fill up, and the motor and solar panels provide electricity. I’m not inclined to go cruising, and haunt cafes for laptop power, so fuel never costs much at all. Mooring and waterways license fees run about 1,000 per year. That includes lock keys, navigation of two rivers, municipal water and rubbish service, and the right to tether up in the heart of a historic university town.

I’m probably one of the most persnickety people on the river when it comes to warmth, and my (ecolog) heating bill is about 10 per week in the winter. Insurance is about 150 annually. Every three or four years the boat needs to be blacked (pulled out of the water, hull painted), for a couple of thousand quid, and there are assorted minor running repairs. Like an old car. Except it floats.

Quite affordable, wouldn’t you say? Even when my freelance income drops to “cover your head and cry” levels I remain well within an earned budget because I have no debt. No student loans, no credit cards, no bills, no encumbrances.

When my tolerance of Cambridge vanished I rented a studio in London for 300 a month; still completely affordable, with money leftover for sundry necessities and madcap excursions.

Readers might wonder – what about the children? But remember, one is grown. The other has a father paying his fair share. My contribution to the upkeep is my time, and that I give most lavishly.

My primary indulgences are memberships with the British Film Institute, Tate Modern, Design Museum, English Heritage. I’m not required to pay for a TV license as boats are exempt, but I do anyway, due to pesky “beliefs” about civic responsibility. I also spend an obscene amount of money on coffee, and bottled water. That is all.

Leaving the river requires a change of perspective, but also a vast amount of cash. Do you know what human houses cost these days?!

I just checked.

More than I have in the piggybank, that is for sure.


3.1.2010 aesthetic

I moved to Cambridge on a whim, and remained here because my offspring wished to be educated and the schools were pretty good. Or at least safe.

I was optimistic that I could organize a life for myself, and others shared that hope. Don wanted me to acquire a house on Portugal Place and open it up like my Portland and Seattle houses, with friends and neighbors and strangers swarming through.

Though he also said that I would hate Cambridge, and my best bet for sanity would be the river.

I chose the latter option, consciously limiting my social activities, withdrawing from polite society. Partly out of necessity, as this city is so toxic and I am so argumentative. Mostly though because I needed the time; I had used up all of my generosity. I was tired. I needed a rest. Or at least, a place to hide.

Cambridge served that purpose, and more besides; this city (that is only a city by royal decree) taught me what it means to be truly lonely.

This damp, hostile, flat university town cares not for you, nor me, nor anyone at all. This is the place where words like ‘scientist’ were coined, and it will always be a stern bastion of the intellect. Cambridge and Establishment are interchangeable.

I tend to think of life as a costume party, and I can certainly dress whatever part is required. Cambridge is not impossible for me; it is merely unpleasant. I could fit in, if I wanted. But I don’t. Mainly because I dislike the aesthetic.

The earlier remarks about bribes and plots were entirely truthful. I have decided to leave; the question is where will I go, on what terms, and who will accompany me?

Paris, Berlin, London, Portland, SF, NYC.

How, where, who…. I just need to decide.