I Saw First-hand that Heroin is Not Fun

Heroin is a big news story in Portland at the moment. KGW, the local NBC affiliate, has made it the feature story of the day; kids as young as 13 are hooked, and people are dying and losing their homes and futures because of it. Apparently the kids have been to parties where Oxycontin was given out like candy, and with the recent government crackdown on opiate painkillers heroin is now cheaper than pills. It’s incredibly sad, because I knew someone who went down this path, and it was not pretty. At all.

I knew this guy in high school who was incredibly smart. He dropped out in junior year because he was bored, but showed up to hang out with his friends, guitar in hand, sitting in the halls playing. At one point he bragged on a full ride scholarship to a very prestigious school — “you see,” he said smiling, “I finally took an IQ test.”

After graduation I didn’t see him again for a long time, because I wasn’t in his circle of friends; he hung out with the kids from the Smokers’ Lounge (and this gives a clue as to how old I am, since these areas aren’t allowed on high school campuses any more). Almost everyone knew that there was more than tobacco smoking going on out there, but they were good at not getting caught, so nobody thought too much about it.

Years later, when I had an apartment in northwest Portland, I ran into him again; he had just moved into my building. And he was literally a shell of the guy I had known. He looked 10-20 years older than I did; the cocky smile was gone, and so was the brilliance. He spoke slowly, carefully, and slurred his words a bit; he explained that he had been hooked on heroin for three years, but had gotten clean, and had just graduated from denture making school, so he had a steady job. I congratulated him, and wished him well — but I never saw him in the building after that. I think he might have avoided me; I know that seeing someone who ‘knew you when’ can be painful after a huge shift in your life. But I spent a lot of time remembering the guy I’d known, and the guy he was now, and vowing that I would never let myself or my friends do anything that self-destructive. Luckily it never came up.

KGW is covering how people get into that kind of trouble, and the damage it’s doing to people’s lives while they’re in it; but this is a case where I think a lot of kids could be ‘scared straight’ if they could see the aftermath, and what they’d be stuck with for the rest of their lives if they continue down this path. I know it scared the heck out of me.

Cat Pictures!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I still don’t know what to write, so I’ll start off easy — with pictures of Harold, my cat, taken about a year ago.

Harold on his mama

9/12: Yes, that’s me, and that’s my Harold, covering my side hip to shoulders. He’s even bigger than that — this couch has a dip in it, so neither one of us is at full extension. My ‘itty bitty little boy.’

Harold on the side table

11/12: Here he is on one of his favorite spots, the table next to my chair (with my old laptop in the foreground). He looks like such a good kid; you’d never know that he only settles down there after I’ve pushed him off my lap (or my chest) three or four times.

Harold and Draco getting People-warm

12/12: And finally, both the kids in the house — Harold and my stepdaughter’s boy, Draco — getting some peoplewarmth last December. Ignore the derpy look on Draco’s face; he’s a scrapper, and will start a fight with anyone he thinks is in his territory. He’s always coming home with new scrapes.

So there you have it — pictures I’ve been holding on to for over a year because somewhere I’d picked up postphobia. Here’s hoping that this helps turn that around! Have a Happy Sunday!

Three Recipes: Pineapple Sour Cream Pie, Carrot Cookies, & Soft Ginger Cookies

By popular demand, I put my Mom’s pie recipe and Kat’s carrot cookie recipe, PLUS her soft ginger cookie recipe, on FaceBook. Then I decided, why not share? So here they are! Enjoy!

PINEAPPLE SOUR CREAM PIE
1 (5 1/2 oz.) pkg. Jello INSTANT vanilla pudding & pie filling
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pie shell, baked & cooled

Combine pie filling mix, sour cream, sugar and pineapple with juice. Pour into pie shell. Chill about 3 hours. If desired, you may garnish with prepared whipped topping, additional pineapple and/or maraschino cherries.
NOTE: Do not overbeat. It is important to use the ingredients called for. Substitutions do not work well. (IIRC, Mom tried a cheaper pudding and it just didn’t work. –LJFW)

CARROT COOKIES
Ingredients
* 1 cup shortening
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup shredded carrots
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in carrots. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to carrot mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

SOFT GINGER COOKIES
Ingredients
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup margarine, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon water or OJ
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 2 tablespoons white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
3. refrigerate dough 1 hr.
4. Shape dough into 3/4″ balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
5 Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Camping and Thinking, Courtesy of @fabeku

We went camping! Our friend and her two-year-old daughter took us camping at Beverly Beach, south of Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast. (I spent three days with a 2-year-old, and she still likes me. My mind is blown.) Wonderful campground. I spent solstice morning on the beach, doing what I always do on the beach — collecting rocks! Just the ones that say something to me, by being unusual or pretty or feeling really good in my hand. I’ve got a bag with about two pounds of rocks (mainly pebbles) to go through. It’ll be fun.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my life in general, in part thanks to @fabeku and his wonderful blog posts. He has one about how you’re Not Your Story, because that story has nothing to do with reality and was created in part by others; he has another about how you’re Not Their Story either, since their story of you is more about their headspace than yours. Then I thought, “Wait a minute. If I’m not My Story (which I’m not; I’ve been tracking down the pieces, and all of them were fed to me by others), and I’m not Their Story, then I can’t really know what I’m capable of! Every ‘I’m Not’ in my head is INVALID! I have no idea how far I can go!” This is liberating and intimidating at the same time. It means the scary proposition of getting my tucchus out of this chair and actually DOING something. Eek. It means actually setting fingers to keyboard and writing as often as I’m supposed to. Yikes. And it means no more excuses — “But I <insert story here>” is no longer an option.

And things are popping out of my online world to poke at me about it, too. “All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. ” — David J. Schartz, The Magic of Thinking Big. “Add value every day.” — Brian Tracy, which brings up “Rust Never Sleeps!” from Flashback. As soon as the back half of my body (from my knees to my shoulders) stops hurting, I’m going to have to do something about that.

Today, however, is a Rest and Catch-up Day, after three days away from the computer having a Real Life. Which was wonderful. So that’s a Good Thing, too. 8-)

BONUS SECRET: The people in the camp spot next to us came over and offered us half a pineapple upside down cake that they couldn’t finish. It was one of the top 10 most wonderful things I’ve ever eaten, which from me is saying quite a bit. It was so good the friend who took us camping went over and asked about the recipe. The lady who cooked it said it was the best one she had ever made, and that the big difference was that she found a PINEAPPLE cake (not a yellow cake) mix in the store and followed the directions on the box. So the next time you need to knock somebody’s socks off through their taste buds, find yourself a box of pineapple cake mix and go to it! MiLady wants to try it in the crockpot, and I can’t wait to play taste tester. It’s one of my favorite jobs! 8-)

The Beer Prayer

(Found in a gift shop in Juneau, Alaska; it was so good that we bought the plastic sign because we’d never remember it otherwise!)

The Beer Prayer

Our lager, which art in barrels,
hallowed by thy fame.
Thy will be drunk, i will be drunk,
at home, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our foamy head,
and forgive us our spillage,
as we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not into incarceration,
but deliver us from hangovers.
For thine is the ale, the pilsner, and the lager,
forever and ever.

Amen

8-)

We’re Going on a Cruise! 8-)

MiLady’s mother has quite generously paid for her entire extended family go to on an 8-day Alaskan cruise. That means 14 of us are heading up to Seattle tomorrow, so we can board the ship on Sunday morning, and we won’t be back until July 5th. Cool, huh?

We arranged for a friend to stay at our place for the duration, to fend off thieves and feed the kitties. (My only worry about the furkids is the loud noises on July 4th; otherwise, they should be OK. But I still worry.) MiLady’s mom has handled all the travel arrangements, so all we need to do is show up at the train station and follow her. I’m looking forward to glaciers and that wonderful shade of blue that you rarely find anywhere else, four pools that I can go swim in any time I feel like, and loads of wonderful stuff to do, not to mention seeing Alaska for the first time and (briefly) visiting Victoria BC again after nearly 30 years. (Yiee! Has it really been that long? Scarily, yes, it has.)

My biggest problem is that most of my trips for my entire adult life have been to SF conventions and SCA events. I’m used to carrying costumes, props, toys, extra food & drink, and stuff — but not this time. What do “normal” people take on vacation? I have no clue. I guess I’ll find out this week, from my inlaws and fellow travelers on the Princess cruise ship. Never having done this before, it’s certain to be an interesting experience!

So if you don’t see anything from me on Twitter or FriendFeed or FaceBook, it’s because I’m “out of pocket” and won’t be back till the 5th. I may take the 6th to rest up, depending on how it goes. Not that I expect anyone to panic or anything (most won’t even notice), but I wanted to let my friends know what’s going on. Have a great week, and I’ll see you when I return! 8-)

Monkey Jokes!

Here are two more funny stories from www.write101.com:

NASA decided to send a shuttle into space with two monkeys and an astronaut. They trained them for months. Then when they thought they were ready, they placed all three in the shuttle and got ready to send them up into space.

As the moment came closer NASA’s mission control centre announced, “This is mission control to Monkey One. Initiate!”

At that the first monkey started typing like mad and suddenly the shuttle’s engines ignited and the shuttle took off.

Two hours later NASA’s mission control centre announced, “This is mission control to Monkey Two. Initiate!”

At that the second monkey started typing like mad and suddenly the shuttle separated from the empty fuel tanks.

Another two hours later mission control announced, “This is mission control to Astronaut…”

At this the astronaut responded, “I know, I know. Feed the monkeys and don’t touch anything.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A gorilla was walking through the jungle when he came across a deer eating grass in a clearing. The gorilla roared,” Who is the king of the jungle?”

The deer replied, “Oh, you are, Master.”

The gorilla walked off, pleased. Soon he came across a zebra drinking at a water hole. The gorilla roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?”

The zebra replied, “Oh, you are, Master.”

The gorilla walked off again, pleased. Then he came across an elephant, “Who is the king of the jungle?” he roared. With that, the elephant threw the gorilla across a tree and jumped on him.

The gorilla got up off the ground and said, “OK, OK, there’s no need to get mad just because you don’t know the answer.”

Tee hee hee. Have a great day! 8-)

A Twitter Soap Opera? Why Not?

So I found myself a new soap opera to follow. This one’s not on TV, though — it’s on Twitter.

For the few of my friends who haven’t heard of it yet, Twitter is called a “microblog” — you can send messages of up to 140 characters (like on your phone) about your day or your new blog post or the movie you just saw. Some people use it to market themselves or their stuff; some use it as a microdiary and to talk to friends; and some are just there to spread the fun around. I’m one of those extreme weirdos that has more than one account, so I spend a lot of time there. It’s fun.

For the many of you who don’t know me that well, I should let you know that when I showed up to my very first Science Fiction convention in 1986, the name on my badge was “Blue Rose,” and that the only name on the 30+ con badges hanging on my wall. I feel kinda proprietary about the name, in my own little Pacific NW corner of fandom, at any rate.

I told you that so you’d understand that when I saw a post on Twitter to someone named @Blue_Rose I had to go take a look. It turns out that @Blue_Rose is a character, and is currently running around the Tardis with @DoctorJohnSmith. There seem to be about half a dozen characters involved in this thing, and I’ve come in in the middle and am still trying to figure things out. I’ve set up a group in Friendfeed to catch all of the action, because when they’re talking they take up a lot of feed bandwidth. In other words, they’re noisy. But they’re interesting as all get-out, too; especially in these lean, hungry TV-Doctorless times. The other night they discovered Gelth in the Boston Museum; today they’re having relationship discussions. Great to eavesdrop on for picking up backstory.

I’ve heard of other role-playing stuff on Twitter, but the only one I know of personally is @MotherAbigail and @TexasWalkinDude, who are playing their roles (from Stephen King’s The Stand) more than role-playing with each other. And let’s not forget the dozens of people out there Twittering as celebrities or historical figures.

Who says the real-time web has to be from the Real World (TM)? 8-)

An Old Favorite for a Weekend Giggle

Here’s another classic goodie from www.write101.com’s newsletter:

I halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plane lee marques four my revue
Miss steaks aye ken knot sea

Eye ran this poem threw it
Your sure reel glad two no
It’s vary polished in it’s weigh
My chequer tolled me sew

A chequer is a bless sing
It freeze yew lodes of thyme
It helps me awl stiles two reed
And aides mi when aye rime

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud
And wee mussed dew the best wee can
Sew flaws are knot aloud

And now bee cause my spelling
is checked with such grate flare
Their are know faults with in my cite
Of nun eye am a wear

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed to be a joule
The chequer poured o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule

That’s why aye brake in two averse
My righting wants too pleas
Sow now ewe sea wye aye dew prays
Such soft wear for pea seas
8-)

Happy Birthday, Harold!

In July of 2002 I went to the Humane Society to adopt a cat. My Number One Son, Grimalkin, had passed in late September the year before, and I finally felt I could love another kitty.

We walked through the cat section, looking at all of the furkids available for adoption, but I wasn’t really connecting with anybody; then we saw the kitten room, with a couple of tabbies sleeping together and one little black furball perched on the litter box roof like a lion in front of his very own library. We were told that the only kitten available for adoption was the little black guy, and I asked to meet him.

We purelled the heck out of our hands and waited in a little side room, MiLady squatting on the floor, and me on the bench. The volunteer put the little black fuzzball down — and he ran across the room, up my leg, and sat on my shoulder to purr in my ear. And that’s how I met Harold.

See, when my parents were first married, my Dad laid down the law — “No Cats.” Ever. Period. So my Mom got a kitten anyway while Dad was at work; and when he came home that day, the kitten introduced itself by climbing his suit up to the shoulder and purring in his ear. I grew up with cats and with that story; so Harold’s behavior was confirmation that he was coming home with me.

We were told that the people who dropped him off had named him “Royal.” That’s not a name, that’s an adjective! So I renamed him on the spot, and my Anglo-Saxon-addled brain came up with Harold, “the last true King of England.” Since no one knew his birthday, and he was about three months old, we picked a date we’d remember: Tax Day, 4/15. We paid the exorbitant fees, put little Harold in a box, and took him home.

Harold was teeny. He could stand in my two hands held up flat together. He made up for it in boundless energy; he was the terror of the two old lady cats, Tasha and Tabby. And he started growing. And growing. I was told by friends that he looked like a Maine Coon; I was told by others that Maine Coon kitties get HUGE, and that I could expect to own a 20 pound cat. I didn’t believe them; I should have.

See, Harold took two years to stop growing, and he is truly the biggest cat I’ve ever lived with. He overflows my lap. He can sit on my leg and lick my neck. When I’m lying on my side, his butt is on my hip and his front paws curl over my shoulder. And I’m 5’9″. This is a BIG cat. He only weighed 14 pounds the last time I was on the scale with him, but he’s l o n g. He’s also a complete wuss, which is a good thing; he’s scared of cars and trucks and strangers (I suppose I should thank the neighbors for yelling at him when he was teeny, though that’s tough to do when the superstitious twits treat a living being the size of their foot that way) and the elder females of his new clan. And in true Tom Lehrer fashion, at least according to MiLady, he “LOVES his mother.” I’ve never been able to break him of the neck-licking thing; and if you watched him, you’d think he can only ever truly sleep in my lap. It’s not true, but it’s what he wants me to believe.

Today Harold is seven years old. I love “mabuki.” (That’s Huttese for “my boy.”) I just wanted to brag on him a while. Thanks for listening. 8-)