Protect Portland’s Eyes and Brains

A federal agent shot a protester in Portland in the head with a projectile and the protester needs reconstruction surgery. I’m collecting your old goggles and helmets for equitable distribution to protesters by Rosehip Medic Collective and Portland Action Medics. I’m seeking goggles and helmets of many kinds including:

  • ski goggles
  • swimming goggles
  • safety goggles
  • bike helmets
  • skateboarding helmets
  • hardhats
  • football helmets
  • skiing helmets

These can be the goggles you forgot in your closet for a decade or the helmet you dropped and don’t trust anymore. Imperfect protection against blunt trauma and chemicals is better than none! You can drop off your goggles and helmets to be distributed by medics at the warehouse at 3376 SE 20th Ave from 9-5 weekdays. There will be a box behind the bushes for after hours drop off.


When I was a teenager, I was in love with an Irish boy I met at a summer camp. He sent me beautiful love letters. He told me Tilt by Scott Walker was amazing. I bought the albums he recommended. I bought the Tilt CD. I convinced myself I liked it. I wanted to have such esoteric taste in music. I still want to be half as cool as I thought that boy was.
Scott Walker’s death was announced today. I’m listening to Tilt now, in retrospect. I was more into chaotic music as a teenager than as an adult, but I’m finding more genuine appreciation of Tilt now.
In retrospect, the only person to write me love letters was a fuckboi.

These Doc Martens Have Been Trouble from the Start

black and white computer line drawing of a laced boot

In 2007 I moved to Japan to teach English. I was too tall for the bikes, and wore the worst-possible footwear. It was a dangerous combo.

I had given up looking for the bakery with the great croquettes and was heading back toward a different bakery when I suddenly couldn’t pedal anymore. I looked down and realized that one of the loops of my Doc Marten bootlaces had gotten caught and pulled taut from one end of the pedal shaft to the other.

“These Doc Martens Have Been Trouble from the Start” on The Refresh

Chemo Survival Kit

clipart of a woman receiving medication from an IV

I recently found out that my friend’s husband had stage four kidney cancer that would require aggressive chemotherapy. I asked around to cancer survivors about what I could do to help out with the misery of chemo. The most common suggestion was to help with household chores—grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning—but I live too far away and can’t afford to pay for a service on my freelancer budget. But I can send inexpensive gifts! Here are some suggestions.

Mary Ladd recommended:

  •  “A BIG water bottle because chemo makes me sooo thirsty, even days after.”
  • “Warm luxurious socks for when I am sleepy in the immediate hours after chemo” [Lauren’s note: I went with Maggie’s Organics wool snuggle socks. I have a pair and love them.]
  • Nice blanket

Margit Detweiler recommended:

Other suggestions were:

  • very soft sleep mask
  • cooling gel strips for forehead
  • Cooling pillows like a Chillow or Gel’O
  • candied ginger or ginger chews [I sent Prince of Peace ginger chews because I like their tea.]
  • Ensure
  • warm hat with soft lining
  • towel warmer (to warm up clothing)
  • hard candies to suck on [I don’t like candy so I gave my best guess of what would be nice and went with this.]
  • something silly, like cheerful stickers, pulp paperbacks, stuffed animals, dollar store bracelets
  • music streaming gift card

Most of these items mitigate common side effects of chemo: body temperature regulation, nausea, decreased appetite, metallic taste in mouth.

There were many, many suggestions for marijuana edibles or oils. Luckily the person going through chemo lives in Bend, Oregon, where both medical and recreational weed is legal.

If you are reading this because you or a loved one is going through chemo, I wish you comfort and ease.


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Orcas Island Lit Fest

a field of cut hay with a barn in the background

I’m planning to volunteer for the Orcas Lit Fest on Orcas Island the weekend of April 13-15, 2018. The festival aims to “bring together people who love to read books with respected authors, poets, and editors for a dynamic series of panel discussions, writing workshops, and a ‘Lit Crawl’ around the Eastsound village.”

I’m excited to go because I’ve never been to the beautiful Orcas Island. And going to a beautiful island with other writers is even better. Early bird tickets ($65) are available now. See you there?

Banana Bran Muffins

Three banana bran muffins stacked on top of a wooden cutting board

It’s another recipe from my dead mom’s recipe box. You can find the text of this banana bran muffin recipe here. This recipe mentions both Kellogg’s and Promise by brand name. On the back of the recipe clipping is an ad for Promise Spread.

clipped recipe for banana bran muffins taped to index card

I made two substitutions. I used whole milk instead of skim milk because skim milk is gross and I never buy it. I also used butter instead of the Promise Spread because I’m not into margarine and am not going to buy it just for one recipe. The muffins aren’t excruciatingly sweet and I like that. Using bran flakes gives the muffins an unusual texture. The muffins are crusty on the outside, I think from the eggs binding the flake pieces in the drying heat. It’s pleasant when hot but gets rubbery when cool.

Following directions doesn’t come naturally to me. I get side tracked by one task and completely miss another. Here are the things I messed up:

  1. I didn’t whip the egg whites. I was worried about what I would do with the egg yolks and wasn’t thinking about where those egg whites were supposed to go and put them directly into the bran flake/liquid mixture. I did my best to whip them into the milk with a spatula.
  2. I didn’t melt the butter before adding it to the mixture. It was simply room temperature
  3. I completely forgot the raisins. My muffins have no raisins.

So when I say the texture is odd, it could be one of those mistakes. I’m not going to try to do this recipe again to get it right, though. Not because I didn’t enjoy the muffins, but because it isn’t really my style. I like working from scratch with basic ingredients. I’d much rather use bran than bran flakes. You might be skeptical that I can handle more complicated recipes, and you’re probably right about that, but it’s what I prefer.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin stands next to Tony Vogt

When I was a bright-eyed 25-year-old I rode nearly 6 hours in a car from Portland, Oregon, with Ursula Le Guin to the Winter Fishtrap Gathering in Enterprise, Oregon. We stopped to eat lunch at a casino on her request because she had never been in one. At the end of the conference, when we said goodbye, she called me “sweetie.” Sweetie only feels good from someone grandmotherly and it felt good.

I’m so glad I got to meet her and have so much of an imagination debt to her. I’ll miss knowing she’s still out there dreaming up amazing unknown worlds.

This post for Visitant remembers what I learned from her at the 2010 winter gathering.

“Move away from speaking and writing in a way that champions violence. Rather than struggle against, work through. Don’t conquer, fix.”

(If I were to rewrite this, I would discuss her use of the word “transvestite” where she’s feeling frustrated about having to pretend to be a male author or only write about men.)

Sesame Chicken with Noodles

open recipe box with faded labels

It’s another entry from my dead mom’s recipe box. This is the only recipe that was not taped onto an index card, so I assume it was the last or one of the last ones added. This recipe mentions Reynolds Wrap by name and appears to come from one of their advertisements. This is another recipe for the microwave so I deem it dubious.
recipe for Sesame Chicken with Noodles clipped from magazine, damaged by liquid

Sesame Chicken with Noodles
¼ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup soy sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 boneless chicken breast halves
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
¼ cup sliced scallions
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup walnut pieces
2 Tbsp. sesame seed
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
Spinach noodles

For marinade, combine first 9 ingredients in 2 qt. microwave-safe casserole. Cut chicken into ½-inch wide strips; add to marinade. Cover with Reynolds Plastic Wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving ¼ cup marinade. Combine reserved marinade and cornstarch. Toss with chicken. Cover with Reynolds Plastic Wrap turning back one edge to vent. Micro-cook on high 5 minutes. Uncover; stir in red pepper and scallions. Re-cover with plastic wrap, leaving one edge open to vent. Micro-cook on high 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Re-cover with plastic wrap and let stand 1 minute. Serve with cooked spinach noodles.
Seves 4.