Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Portland is the City of Roses, right?

When I was a clerical specialist for the City of Portland Bureau of Buildings, I always kept a desk book in a three-ring binder.  It held a check list of things that had to be done on a regular cycle, like weekly or monthly, and phone numbers that were relevant to complaints, and other useful bits of info.  Since a big part of our work was inspections, the day began with sorting messages and preparing the inspectors for the field, which might be something trivial or might be part of something pretty major, like a landslide with houses involved.  Once they got their feet under them and the keys to their transportation, the inspectors left.  Then the clericals did office work like data entry until they came back late in the afternoon to write reports.

Mike Olsen brought me a huge bouquet of roses 
from his yard every day in summer.
When I left, his little boy made me a bird feeder.
It's still out there in the tree.

But there are other ways of looking at a day.  I’ve been looking for a new dentist, since the health care organization that employed my last one ran him out of town, which means that I’m searching the Internet for information.  First of all, there are so many index businesses that organize public information that one would thin there were dozens of dentists in each of the 3 market county seats in driving distance but there are only one or two in each of the three towns.  One of the pieces of info these platforms include in store indexes is a little graph of when the businesses are busy, I suppose so that people can figure out when lines are short — though around here there aren’t enough people to make very long lines.  It’s another urban bright idea.  So much of the internet is run by people who have no concept of “rural.”

If I were to make a 24 hr graph of how things go in Valier, since I’m on the main artery street, it’s much about traffic.  It begins with the newspaper arriving in town about four AM and the people who do very early jobs in the county seats — cooks at the schools or cafes or those hauling cattle to auctions in Great Falls.  My neighbor used to leave for oil field work about this time but the boom has ended and he has no job.  

This time of year the railroad spur is working on harvest and may be assembling trains, slamming hopper cars together before there is traffic.  Semi-drivers who have caught a few hours in their sleeper bunks may begin to fire up but by this time of year it’s still dark at 6 and they risk meeting wildife.  If they do, they win.  Ranchers who use town water (many of these farms have no wells) like to come fill their huge tanks as early as possible.

The in-town traffic comes in waves: those getting to work at 8, those getting to work at 9, those going home for lunch and returning an hour later, and then the closing time.  Kids get out of school at 3 or 4 so it depends on what sport is scheduled for practice afterwards.

Froggies is for sale.

My own day is broken up.  I tend to work 4 hours up and 4 hours down, but cats make a difference.  I crash about ll PM, wake at 2AM unless there is commotion outside.  There are no bars in Valier, but there is a pizza and beer joint, Froggies, that closes about that time.  The out-of-town drinkers and swampers get home about 3AM.  Private parties tend to either end or get explosive about then.  Valier is so small and quiet that they can be heard blocks away.  Unless the dogs are set off barking all over town — then that’s all anyone hears.

I do a couple of hours of writing in the wee smalls because I work when the internet traffic is light so I can research without waiting, but also because for a while I was conversing with Paris.  Naturally the cats want to have a little something — it’s mouse-and-bird hunting time.  In a while I go back to sleep and so do they.

At 9AM the Baptist church next door starts their electronic Big Ben imitation (bonging every half hour).  They think of it as Christian evangelism that is welcomed so they keep it on the loudest setting.  What it really amounts to is a hangover from the medieval town clocks in Europe that reminded people to get up and go to work in the days before personal clocks.   
Bunny, Tux and Doux

Now the cats are serious about food.  The Bunny, the only inside mom, gets full of milk whenever she eats, so she’s prowling the house to call her kittens to nip up to the bar.  The outside cats are in a row watching the kitchen window for movement.

Sometimes I can sleep through the bonging and sometimes I get up, esp. when I want to do a wash because I have no machine, take a month’s load of clothes to the laundromat in one of the county seats and hang them on the line when it’s still early. But now I’ve figured out that if I have to wash late in the day, I can keep the wet clothes overnight and hang them in the morning.  

All three of the laundromats are always in disrepair; even the quarter-dispensing machines are often inoperable.  One laundromat is attended by an old couple and they keep quarter rolls at their desk, so that’s usually where I go.  But another has a big tough machine that will wash sleeping bags and rugs.  It’s also often in disrepair and there’s no way to call to see if it’s working, so I use it when I’m in that town for something else.  I won’t get a home machine until my sewer is reliable.  It needs to be dug up and replaced — estimate is $1,000.

The mail is up by 11AM.  There is no home delivery so most people go get their daily mail (esp. businesses) about that time.  Ranchers might only come once a week.  The out-going mail leaves about 4PM and the posties will need time to sort before that.  UPS gets to town in late morning and sometimes lunches here.  Fed Ex comes a little later, usually a girl driver.  The Schwann man (frozen food) comes maybe twice a week.  

Another nap after lunch.  Maybe a trip to the library or the trash roll-off which is when I get the REAL news, not the skimmings in the paper.  I could learn even more if I ate lunch with the Senior Citizens, but they charge $5.  I eat three meals at home for that much.  But if I got sick, they would bring me a lunch generous enough to last two meals.  It won’t be diabetes-friendly.  It’s country comfort food and the elders love it.  The point, it was explained to me, is as much for them to have a social time in their day as to feed them.  They used to take blood pressures.

I run my blog post through the wringer again to get the fat out of it, look for illustrations (google images), and in the last few months, look for strange typos and grammar mistakes.  I think the culprit is tiny TIA’s, undiagnosed.  Aging.  A movie to change the pace, usually a cop show.  Most movies are so poorly made and repetitious.  The one about the Brazilian Bull-Riders has disappeared already.

"The Sacred and the Profane", copyright 1957, is the earliest

I’m sorting and dumping books, and the piles of tear-outs and to-file material I’ve been hanging onto.  The advantage of waiting so long is that most of it is obsolete by now so I just discard with no regrets.  The books I’m currently working with I tipped onto their spines and wrote their copyright dates on the tops.  Two shelves from 1976 to the present, maybe half in this decade.  I can see the revolution.  The Enlightenment love affair with the rational has led them at last to a little assignation with the other side of the brain.  I’m so pleased.  The shape of day has yielded the Shape of a Millennium and I lived long enough to see it.

Now about these diseases. . . 

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