Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sorting Thru the Past

 I blew it with this post.  I left out the most important photo of all.  It's a cat photo.  Well, duh, of course.  So here it is, with apologies, to Miss Daisy, whose life has been terribly affected by my selfish error.
The old spool cat tree be done!

I was trying to clean up today, get rid of things.  My back or hip or something has been killing me.  I do not know why.  I've barely been out since my cold hit Monday afternoon.  Maybe it was extra time in bed.  Or something.

So today, I'm just moving things around, going through some things, getting rid of what I don't want or need.  I came across my memory box of treasures I've held onto from the past.  Oh my.

I went through it again.

I used to write letters, when young, to legislators, full of the energy and optimism of youth, and also the belief people would listen and did care.  Ha!

I have signatures from two presidents.  Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

I wrote to Jimmy Carter when I was on a committee to organize Earth Week, in college.  I figured why not go big, or, at least try!  My brothers used to tease me that wasn't really Jimmy Carter who added the P.S.  I bet it was but I don't know.  Pretty poor handwriting if it was.  I think it was an old boyfriend that may have added that as a joke.
I wanted to get letters from every President.  But Reagan never responded.  Neither did the first Bush and so I gave it up, because then e-mail became the thing.

My most highly treasured response is from an Oregon Governor I greatly admired:  Tom McCall.

I was a kid when Tom McCall replied to a letter I wrote him.  He was governor of Oregon and he was a hero to me.  He was brave and outspoken and I heard once and I don't know if its true that he stood in front of bulldozers in the Columbia Gorge in protest of destruction and said "Over my dead body!"  He drew some flack for inviting Californians to visit but reminding them to be sure to go back home.  He cleaned up the Willamette River and advocated for bottle return bills to cut down on litter.
I believe the person who really said "over my dead body", was then Idaho governor Cecil Andrus, an avid environmentalist born in Oregon and later to become Interior secretary under Jimmy Carter.  He said there would be more dams built in Hells Canyon "over my dead body".  Tom McCall and Senator Bob Packwood helped secure federal protection for the area.  In Oregon, we've had some radical brave republican environment protecting politicians in the past.  Didn't matter your party, back then, Oregonians didn't want this beautiful state destroyed.  Cecil Andrus was well loved in Idaho, a democrat and I believe was governor for four terms or a long time.  He was another of my heroes.
Jim Weaver was a long time democratic congressman from Eugene.  He's old now but still lives in Eugene.

Bob Packwood was a Republican Senator for Oregon when I was growing up.

Dixy Lee Ray was a controversial and colorful Washington state governor way back when I was young.
I've kept these letters.  They bring back memories. I was trying to save the whales way back when I was a teenager, and went at it all sorts of ways, but mainly through letter writing, requesting a ten year moratorium on whaling, of the international whaling commission, and an extension of the US coastline territorial fishing limits from 6 to 10 miles to 200 miles, as much of the whaling and massive drag gill netting, that killed thousands of dolphins, was done just off our shores, by foreign nations.  At that time, the gray whale populations were very low.

I wanted to be a marine biologist.  Jacques Cousteau was a mentor via media. (I watched his specials when I could and read his books).

 I also saved buttons, and have quite a store of them elsewhere.   That McKinley Park Alaska railroad tag came from an adventure to the park I took, during the first year I went off to work in Alaska.  I worked in Seward and took the train to the park, with my backpack, just to see it.  Later I worked up there for Denali raft Adventures although all I did was work at Denali Cabins, mostly cleaning them.  We lived in wall tents out behind the cabins, which were rented to tourists.  The shoulder patch is from the scuba club I belonged to in college, my first year, down in the Napa valley.  The candle I saved from when I was young, and our family camped at Lake Shasta.  We had this awkward huge canvas tent for all of us.  I didn't know anything about anything, but my big brother was sneaking away sometimes to listen to rock music.  We were not allowed to listen to music at home.  So he knew some rock bands . Well, turned out our camping neighbor was the rock group Chicago.  After they left, we collected some souvenirs.
My graduation tassels are there on the left, along with a masking tape ID from a trap.  It's a reminder of all the cats I got fixed at FCCO clinics.  There's a slug from a gun I once owned.  My Jr. Forest Ranger card, from childhood, and a photo of my younger brothers' two youngest kids, when they were young.

My older brother has taken me to three Jimmy Buffet concerts in my life.  I think this was the very last one I went to, but I can't remember.  I loved those concerts.  SOOOO much fun!
When I was a kid, we had three cats, Sparky, Tao and Blacky.  I made them little hats from milk carton tops and sewed them collars with neckties.  That's a top 30 song list from one year or another.  Top song at that time, as listed there, was Green Eyed Lady.
Some of the Save the Whale bumper stickers from way back in the 70's and a Jean Michel Cousteau brochure.
A bottom of the lake clean up I organized in my first year college, down in California.  It was just a few of us from our dive club involved.  We didn't accomplish much. That was in the 70's I was going to school there, just beyond the time of the zodiak killer, although it was widely believed he was still in the area and perhaps still killing. At least as college students in the same area where he had killed, we would scare each other with the accounts and say "If you go park with so and so, he'll sneak up and get you both."  Stuff like that. The Zodiak killer killed one person and gravely wounded another at Lake Berryessa.  The attack survivor had lived in my home town in Oregon.  

Way later in life, I ran into a man, middle of the night, at a crime ridden scary Sacramento bus station, who very obliquely claimed to be the killer, I think.  At another stop, in that horrid bus ride from hell, passengers waiting for the next bus, had discussed the Zodiak.  I don't know how it came up.  I told them about Brian, the guy from my home town attacked with his ex girlfriend, at the lake, and that he'd survived. 

 I had no money at this point on this lengthy bus ride, that stopped at every stop, and I was starved.  A black gang type kid, apparently running drugs between towns by bus, had tried to lure me off the bus down a street, claiming there was a kid in trouble down there, once at the Sacto stop, but a black woman slapped him and told him to get the fuck away.  It was a terrifying bus station.  That kind black woman at one point had been sitting two or three rows up from me on the bus, with a white older man.

I was waiting for luggage, at the Sacramento station where I had to change buses, and someone slipped up behind me.  It was the older guy, who had been on the bus I was on, wore a long black raincoat, was balding and older.  He tapped me on the shoulder.  He said he wanted to give me something because he knew I hadn't eaten.  He stuffed a bill in my hand.  I didn't look, just closed my hand over it.  I didn't want to become a target there.  I had to wait there an hour. Then, as he was turning to leave, like an after thought, he said , "Sorry about what I did to your friend."

I didn't reply.  I just stared  My mouth was probably hanging open. He'd been involved in the discussion about the Zodiak behind the Reno station, although more as a listener.  I went into a bathroom and in the closed stall opened my hand.  It was a hundred dollar bill. I quickly closed my hand over it again.  I was going to save it, give it to the police, figured I should, so they could take fingerprints.  Then I got really hungry and broke that bill and bought food next stop.  I don't know who he was or thought he was. He helped me out that's for sure. I never will know what he really meant when he said what he said that night.  Isn't that strange, yet wonderful, what happened there to me that night?  It freaked me out for awhile, but I figured there was no way to know and he'd changed if it was him and who was I to try to figure it out.  You know?  

That was a scary bus ride.  There was guy in the back, drunk as all get out, said he'd just gotten out of prison, gave a running instructional on how to build a meth lab, and finally the bus driver, who I thought was very brave, pulled over and kicked him off.  The guy was aggressive and I thought there was going to be a fight or murder right there, but on we went.  The black guy then moved in next to me, said he had a knife, and was fondling me and I was scared to death.  He was getting off in Sacramento and I knew it wasn't going to go well for me there, because I had to get off there, too and wait an hour for the next bus. I'd had $2 left but he'd taken that from me. But that black woman saved the day for me and ran him off.  I was worn out, hungry and scared.  But that hundred dollars changed my outlook.
I ended up in such a predicament when someone asked me to help them drive a car to Vegas.  She and her husband were moving there.  My brother was my payee then.  I did not have control of my money, being in the mental system.  He said to go, that I never got to do anything or go anywhere, that he'd wire me money down there.  I didn't know how that worked, but I went. I had just $20.  The fun part was going super fast on the desert, ran that car up to 100 mph, because she'd been driving that fast, when it was her turn to drive.  I love speed.  But the money never came and they didn't have any either, after just moving.  We went to a casino buffet and stuffed our pockets with more food after gorging on whatever we could eat in one sitting.  They took me out to the dam, which was unbelievable.  I could not even imagine the engineering feat of building that dam.  Anyhow, when the money never came the man and his wife bought me a bus ticket home, which was more than they could afford.  I tried to pay them back later, but they wouldn't take it.

And how is this for memorabilia.  I found two small X-rays of my metal neck plate, taken six or 8 months after surgery, to see if I had achieved fusion of the donar bone.  I didn't remember I had these.  So I held them up and took photos!

I love this.  You can see my neighbor's garbage can.  I think it's an artsy X-ray photo!  That's my metal plate, from the side, screws sticking down into the vertebrae above and below the fusion bone. 

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