All posts by Laura Grimes

London: Flying high on the blog

by Laura Grimes

JoJo and I say hello from London. Let’s surprise Mr. Scatter by filling him in this way about our travels, shall we?

Editor’s note before I begin: I have The Wimpy Camera and when it comes to camera equipment, even the wimpy kind, I am technically disabled. So my deep apologies in advance. (Some of these photos were taken with The Wimpier Camera, my Blackberry.)


Postcard from London to Portland, London to Portland

When I picked up this postcard from SCRAP in Portland a few weeks back, my friend, Holly, said, “If you send me that from London, I’ll know where it came from.” Well, guess what?


The Pantsless Brother (TPB) has been waylaid by an ash cloud. Regular Scatterers will remember his predicament with gas in his pants so being waylaid by an ash cloud should be considered par for the course for him. In the meantime, I’ll scatter while I wait late at night and try not to drink all the beer before he gets here.


Before JoJo and I left Portland, his buddies in the hood wished him well:

JoJo's buddies from the hood


After having endless trouble checking in online a day before departure I’m happy to report that once I was at the airport I was checked in, through security and had ordered coffee even before Mr. Scatter was back home. Considering we live only a hop, skip and barely 20 minutes from the airport … slick!

Continue reading London: Flying high on the blog

Epilogue: Scattering live from the opera

By Laura Grimes

Portland Opera's The Barber of Seville

Mrs. Scatter’s final thoughts and look back — and a chance to add what she missed before:

Forget coherence. Forget cohesion. Stutter and start is the only way to blog live about the opera. People talk and joke and all that is part of the cheerful scene, but forget trying to put two words together that make sense on the computer screen.

To read our meandering live blogs about the opera:

Mr. Scatter’s.

Mrs. Scatter’s.

Though it’s nice to make sense, frankly it’s icing on the cake when it happens because the whole point really is that it’s brilliant marketing on the part of the opera. It costs them a little staff time to arrange (but what’s a few e-mails), some flier bills describing the blogs and the people  (which call us “prominent local bloggers” — elbow elbow), a bag of nuts (Mr. Scatter calls them salty), and a few glasses of wine (blog lubricant). So, really, for peanuts they get a buzz going in different directions among different people. Brilliant. You put on a show and you want people to see it. That’s just smart business.

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Friday night live: Mrs. Scatter gets a curl

By Laura Grimes

Mrs. Scatter is considerably fond of facial hair, and Mr. Scatter’s beard in particular, so she’s concerned what type of shave he has in mind. Let’s hope it’s the farcical kind because we’re blogging in tandem tonight about The Barber of Seville. That’s right, folks …

Live from Portland Opera, it’s Scattering Night!

We’ll be updating our posts as the night goes on, so check back, scroll down and see what’s new!


Two hours until Curtain Time: This is a test photo from The Wimpy Camera:

Mr. Scatter in his home office

In the meantime, I’ve been boning up:

  • This is the second barber show in two nights for the Scatter Family. On Thursday night, they ventured to see Sweeney Todd at Grant High School.
  • The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini premiered in 1816 … the same year  Jane Austen’s Emma was published.
  • Jennifer Rivera, who plays Rosina, has a kick-in-the-pants blog, and the videos are not to be missed.
  • Bob Kingston, who gives the pre-performance talks at Portland Opera, shared this podcast from LA Opera.
  • The blog at Portland Opera by Operaman, otherwise known as Stephen Llewellyn, is personable and insightful about opera in general.
  • And, thanks to Operaman, that’s where I found my most useful resource, though stink if I can get it to embed:

Warner Bros. presents \”Barber of Seville\”


The wine has arrived, the personal nuts, the pretzels, the cookies …

Continue reading Friday night live: Mrs. Scatter gets a curl

Journalism and poetry: Is a new romance in the air?

By Laura Grimes
Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my last day at a large daily news organization. So it seems only fitting to reimagine a new, inspiring era of journalism … that incorporates poetry.


For more than half my life I was a journalist. At least that’s the occupation I wrote on insurance applications and medical forms. But in the beginning it just seemed like one paycheck away from my real occupation: a big liberal arts question mark.

When I was fresh out of college and looking for work I vowed I would never work for a newspaper. I hated being pressed to finish term papers, why would I subject myself to deadlines every day? But I loved the whole messy process of publishing and had ever since I walked into Mrs. Wallis’ yearbook class my junior year of high school. The pull was still strong. After college, a quick accounting of publishing job options revealed:

  1. Literary magazines, tops on my list at the time, had no paycheck.
  2. Glossy magazines meant moving to New York.
  3. Book publishing ditto.
  4. Leaving the idea of working for a large daily newspaper really appealing.

So at a once-large publishing company in Portland, Oregon, my love affair with newspapering began, slowly at first, but eventually growing into a deep passion. The job taught me to work with speed and economy.

Continue reading Journalism and poetry: Is a new romance in the air?

Josephine, Chapter 2: The long return

By Laura Grimes

I said hello and called her name. She sat on the side of her twin bed, reading an aged book. She didn’t respond. I called her name again. I stood in front of her for several moments. I raised my voice. Nothing. I finally stooped down and looked into her face.

Josephine raised her head just a little, looked at me and smiled. She put a mark in her book and closed it. Gold serif type spelled out two words on the blue cloth cover: Silent Spring.

Silent SpringI put my bag on the floor and moved a portable potty out of the way to give her a sideways hug.

I looked at her square in the front again. “Hello,” she said cheerfully. “It’s been a long time.”

“I know. I never meant to stay away so long.” It had been more than four months.

I looked around for the low wooden stool I usually sit on and found it under a wastebasket. She was wearing a purple dress with white polka dots, the material a thin synthetic. Two strands of Mardi Gras beads matched the color of her dress, one of little hearts and one of little dice. She wore a short-sleeve jacket with a cut out lacy design on the collar, all white like her hair.

Continue reading Josephine, Chapter 2: The long return

‘Small Steps’ leaves a big footprint

Johnny Crawford as Armpit

By Laura Grimes

The pressure’s on. Mr. Scatter, otherwise known as my current first husband, has hightailed it outta town, and his responsibilities mean he probably won’t have a chance to write or find a wi-fi to post for about a week.

But you’re in luck. Before he left town, he got up early to write this review of Small Steps at Oregon Children’s Theatre.

Small Steps by Louis SacharI am more than a little envious that he got this assignment. I’m the one who’s had my eye on this show for months. I’m the one who bought the book. I’m the one who was trying to see how this could wedge into the schedule and — stink — he landed the gig, skedaddled with the Small Large Smelly Boy (also known as Felix/Martha in some circles), and I was stuck with chauffeur duty for the Large Large Smelly Boy who had a class at the same time.

At dinner after the show, the Small LSB niftily and oh-so-casually wove it into the conversation that he got to meet Louis Sachar.

Louis Sachar“Excuse me?” I said. “You got to meet him?”

I could tell he was stifling a grin and playing cool. “I got to shake his hand. It wasn’t big.”

“What? His hand wasn’t big?”

“No!” he laughed. (Got him!)

“I knew what you meant. And, yes, it was a big deal.” And, no, I wasn’t there.

But I got a report. You can read it for yourself. Mr. Scatter says it’s a good ‘un.

In looking at my schedule, I’ll be in town exactly one weekend day during the run that’s open to the public. Must sign off to buy a ticket … and then finish the book.



Top: Johnny Crawford as Armpit in “Small Steps.” Photo by Morphis Studios.

Bottom: Louis Sachar/Wikipedia

Books are for lovers: Meet Josephine

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne FadimanI’ve been keeping someone to myself much too long. I’ve collected reams of notes and have a stack of material. Now I feel somewhat prodded, thanks to Rose City Reader, who posted this review of Anne Fadiman’s “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.”

I left this comment on her post:

My copy of this book first belonged to my friend, Josephine, who was exactly twice my age when I first met her. She writes in pen in all of her books. She underlines words she doesn’t know, she makes little comments, she traces routes on maps, and on the very last page of every book she reads she signs and dates it and sometimes writes a short comment. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paperback or a gorgeous leatherbound edition from Easton Press. When I pointed this out, she shrugged and said simply she was a carnal book lover. When I was confused, she said I had to read this book and gave me her copy. In the middle of Fadiman’s essay about courtly vs. carnal book lovers, Josephine wrote in very scratchy script at the bottom of Page 40: “Mom used to use a bill to mark her place in a book. She told me to look through her books when she died. Yes, I found a few bills. I was astounded a couple of months ago to find $60 in a book I had read some time before. My mother’s daughter.” The last page is signed: “J.D.P. Jan. 16, 2009. Truly loved this book!” She was 92 years old at the time.

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Parenting 102: Oh, so NOW you tell me!

You really ought to give Iowa a try.

Mrs. Scatter posted in Parenting 101 how she constantly looks for opportunities to impart valuable life lessons on the Large Smelly Boys.

As Mr. Scatter noted in a recent post, The Scatter Family has been on the road. Longtime Scatter friends know that when the family travels in the Large Smelly Boymobile they often listen to audio books or play word games. Sometimes the LSBs commandeer the blog keyboard and type their list of clever ideas that come from these games.

Last summer The Scatter Family passed many miles and restaurant waits by coming up with questions that always answered with “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” This time they filled several notebook pages with phrases that always had a new consistent reply.

Mrs. Scatter, also known as the Very Attentive Mother, is very excited to glean several of these to share as valuable life lessons, thinking other parents who also strive to model supreme mature behavior will eagerly want to pass them on.

The new game? Phrases that always have the reply … “Oh, so NOW you tell me!”

  • This product is not recommended for people who are or ever have been pregnant. (“People” is a nice touch.)
  • Warning: Smoking can be hazardous to your health.
  • You should never drink and drive.
  • Double cheeseburgers are fattening.
  • There were no weapons of mass destruction.
  • You really ought to give Iowa a try.
  • True love begins with steak. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one.)
  • Picking your nose is gross. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one.)
  • Toasters and bathtubs do not mix. (Mrs. Scatter wishes she had come up with this one.)
  • Yesterday was our anniversary. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one, but probably should have in the name of humility.)
  • Bears don’t like it when you break their chairs, eat their food and sleep in their beds.
  • Smee: “I don’t think that crocodiles like it when you say, ‘Bite me!'”
  • Chicks hate it when you haven’t showered for a while. (Mrs. Scatter doesn’t know who came up with this one, but she’s certain it was her.)
  • That had been in my mouth. (Mrs. Scatter did not come up with this one, but it was recently spoken by one of the LSBs when she unwittingly ate a prechewed calamari. Mrs. Scatter is generously willing to mine her wealth of experience and impart her deep parenting knowledge by sharing this vital tip: Crabby teen-agers who haven’t slept, hate being on the road and hate being with their parents can be turned around with one simple trick. All you have to do is eat a prechewed calamari. Works every time.)


Illustration: You really ought to give Iowa a try. C.S. Hammond & Company Atlas – 1910/United States Digital Map Library

Parenting 101: A fine specimen

Mrs. Scatter takes her ever-loving Mom Job seriously, constantly looking for opportunities to impart valuable life lessons on the Large Smelly Boys. They are still at a tender age when they’re vulnerable and impressionable, so she takes great care in modeling supreme mature behavior. She takes this job so seriously, in fact, that she doesn’t even allow commas between adjectives.

This is why during a recent family game of Scrabble she felt it was important to say, “Who messed up my udders? I had perfectly good udders on the board and someone had to put an R in front of them!”

You can buy 25 of these for $3.45 at Amazon. It holds 4 ounces.This is also why she put the game on pause for a teachable moment when her sweet innocent pre-teen said, “The last turn, if I had a P, I could have had ‘specimen.'”

Actually at first she took several teachable moments to laugh into her beer while both LSBs looked at her in wonder. Apparently neither of them has ever carried a communicable disease or been pregnant for any length of time, and their idea of a specimen is a pin through a dead bug. As their Very Attentive Mother, Mrs. Scatter was surprised to learn this. The dead bug part, that is, and she set out immediately to correct their deficient understanding. She’s sorry. To expand their worldly knowledge. She started by holding up her glass of beer.


Illustration: You can buy 25 of these for $3.45 at Amazon. It holds 4 ounces.

The dirty little secret behind the dirty little secret martinis

Dirty little secret martini/Wikimedia CommonsI have a dirty little secret. It’s so dirty I don’t even add commas between adjectives.

It starts out innocently enough. I poke around the fridge and come across a jar with a few floaty thingies and a bunch of brine. And I realize the fridge is full of jars with a few floaty thingies and a bunch of brine. And then I determine to do something about it.

“Honey, are you thirsty?”


“We have too many floaty thingies.”

Mr. Scatter gives me that look through his eyebrows. He mildly shakes his head.

“We have a problem here!” I get a little defensive. I’m a bit sensitive about My Issue and I’m looking for some sympathy. Mr. Scatter knows I have a dreadful disability. Making fun of such an acute condition is not humane.

Continue reading The dirty little secret behind the dirty little secret martinis