Laughing all the way — Check me out

September 30, 2015

NEW — 2:41 p.m. Sept. 30, 2015

Beginning in October, microchips will be embedded in our credit cards like they are in the rest of the known universe, and instead of swiping them, we will be inserting them into a slot and pulling them back out. In the near future, you still may need to sign your name, but at some point in time that will no longer be necessary.

DetmerColumn 20151000Soon, in fact, your very presence during checkout will be considered an outdated redundancy, and you’ll be vouching for payment via hologram, wherein you will mentally assure the clerk that you’re good for whatever you’ve purchased and will neurotransmit the money owed directly to the bank. And when the drone drops off whatever you’ve bought and flies away, you’ll also be able to use that same neurotransmitting ability to make it explode into a million tiny pieces. I’m really looking forward to that.

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Laughing all the way — Paradise Lost

September 4, 2015

NEW  — 10 a.m. Sept. 4, 2015

I mentioned in a recent column that we would be road touring the vast and empty spaces of southeastern Oregon and jumping the borders between Washington and Idaho before heading home. It was a great trip. The vistas were endless, and road signs that declared “No service for the next 45 miles” were abundant. It was paradise.

DetmerColumn 20150800But here’s what was not paradise: the fact that we’d planned the trip as a series of one-night stands. It seemed like a great idea when we looked at the map, but in practice, we realized that the Wake Up/Pack Up/Leave model was not for us. From the start, it was clear that this was going to be a trip to the Land of the Lost. Witness:

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Laughing all the way — Pedal faster! And provide TMI!

August 7, 2015

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 7, 2015

On July 8, I turned 65. I made my usual trip to the Y and headed to an elliptical machine, deciding  to commemorate the first time that I put my new age into the program by taking a picture of it. I punched it in and started moving, but looking through the phone viewfinder, I realized that I was bouncing up and down too much, so I stopped. By the time I focused and clicked, the message had changed from a benign “65” to a blinking and insistent “Pedal Faster!” in red capital letters. An excellent mantra! I think I’ll have a T-shirt made.

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Laughing all the way — Grounded

July 2, 2015

Most of our friends are world travelers, people who fill up their passports and have to get fresh ones before their expiration date, folks with high-six-figure frequent flier miles who go to Singapore for a weekend of shopping and lead tours to Italy, Argentina and South Africa to enjoy food and wine. These friends have family abroad, think nothing of flying over the pole and visit Kenyan orphanages after starting nonprofits to benefit them.

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On the other hand, The Sainted One and I are quite excited about our summer vacation. We’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary and my 65th birthday with a road trip through Eastern Oregon and Washington, with stops at the Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds and a microbrewery festival in La Grande. We’ll spend two nights in Joseph and our last night in Wenatchee. As our virgin passports gather dust at home, we’ll be making dust of our own, following thin dotted lines on maps in search of something interesting, visiting small town bars and chatting with the regulars, searching for geocaches, and because we’re Vacation Book Bingers, plowing through two or three books apiece. Read more

Say ‘cheese!’

April 30, 2015

It’s time for a new picture.

I’ve had newspaper columns for nearly 15 years, and I’ve always promised myself that I would try to keep the picture accompanying it fairly current. This the result of having won a charity auction get-together with a columnist and being surprised by the lined face of the person I saw at lunch versus the smooth face that I saw in the paper at breakfast.

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The WTH? Files

April 2, 2015

I’m in my mid-60s and am descending the gradual hill that leads into Crotchety Valley, where all sorts of negative thoughts spontaneously pop into my brain, things like “Why do it this way? It’s stupid!” and “When did THIS change? I don’t like it!” and “I didn’t even know that hair could grow there!” I’m well-known to embrace all manner of colorful expletives, but because this is a family newspaper I’ll refer to these collective thoughts as the “What the Heck?” — or WTH? — Files.

Lately I find myself having more and more of these WTH? moments, many of them caused by a world far too informed, too digitalized, too connected and overmarketed, where data is king and content his queen, and  bandwidth must be filled. Thus:


> WTH? A weather app on my phone informed me:

Temperature: 76

Feels like: 75

> WTH? I went shopping, found shoes that I liked, and went to the checkout.

Clerk: (Not making eye contact, tapping at a screen.) “Do you know your rewards number?”

Me: “No.”

Clerk: “Can I have your rewards card?”

Me: “I don’t have one.”

Clerk: (Frowning, as if this news has made my purchase incredibly complex, perhaps even impossible.) “Hmm. Ooo-kaaaay then. Give me your phone number and email address.” Read more

What Goes, and What Stays

March 5, 2015

When you drive over the hill toward 405 and see the VMAC, do you still feel blue blue about the Seahawks? Fear not.

There was another “Boom” in Seattle before the “Legion of.” It was the “Sonic Boom,” and I signed up for for a decade of fanaticism. I’d moved to Seattle in ’72 from small-town Illinois, where basketball was king, where winters were so harsh and bleak that the best option for entertainment was to be packed into frigid cinder-block gyms in the dead of January to watch sons of farmers play the game. I transferred my basketball fan punchcard to Seattle and started listening to Bob Blackburn on the radio, and daily scanned the sports pages for stories about the SuperSonics in all three newspapers. Yes. Three.


I was ecstatic when they began to win and make the playoffs, and I committed myself completely to the journey. In my saved box of Sonic history are newspaper clippings, a poem of mine that had been published (“Goodbye, Marvin; No Hard Feelings!”) and a front-page picture of myself and friends holding up a banner during the Denver playoff series (“We Got ‘em by the Nuggets!”). Read more

A tale of two coats

February 6, 2015

When the weather is miserable here we head to warmer climes, specifically the Palm Springs area.

Although neither of us are shoppers, when we stay in Rancho Mirage with my sister (who is a shopper) we visit the College of the Desert Street Fair, which is a walk away. It’s really not a street fair at all. It’s a “parking lot” fair, and there must be a hundred booths where you can buy clothing, golf accessories, hats, visors, art, jewelry, specialty foods, sunglasses and obviously, given the number of them that you see there, male senior citizens wearing high-waisted shorts.


While visiting about five years ago, The Sainted One bought a short yellow jacket with navy trim, unremarkable in all respects except for the ability to unzip the sleeves and create a vest, something that we would forget unless we picked it up at a certain angle when washing it, whereupon we would declare, surprised once again, “Hey! You can take the sleeves off this thing!” and then would promptly forget. He adored it, wore it to death, wore it until the wrists frayed, the pockets became sieves and the stand-up collar wilted. Read more

Oh, the irony…

January 2, 2015

I have, for more than 25 years, donated blood. My own blood, by the way, if that wasn’t clear. I’ve filled the plastic bag at Puget Sound Blood Centers, in school auditoriums and in my current favorite: The Bloodmobile that shows up at the Newcastle Y every eight weeks or so.

Yes, it can sometimes be a bit time-consuming, which is why I was elated when I opened the PSBC website and saw a large button that said, “Donate online!” For a nanosecond I pondered how it might be accomplished — Via USB port? Would one need broadband? — and then I realized that they had yet to find a way to siphon my blood over the ethernet, but instead were seeking monetary donations.


The Sainted One gives plasma, and his blood type is such that it mixes with all other types, which means that his plasma is as coveted as Seahawks season tickets at the 50-yard line. When he’s due for a session we get a persistent but pleasant phone call a day from a volunteer until he books it. He gets his own TV and blanket while he donates.

Admittedly, I do get cookies and a choice of drinks when I’m done, so it’s not as if my needs are ignored. I always choose V8 because it makes me feel like I’m replenishing what I’ve lost. They have yet, however, to stock the little bottles of vodka that I keep requesting.

But something has begun to mess with my desire to donate. My iron levels are sometimes not high enough for giving. For a quarter of a century I’ve had the right stuff, and even though I’m not eating differently, and even though I love kale, spinach, seafood, a good steak and Almond Roca, my numbers have gone down. According to the folks at the PSBC, that’s not unusual, especially for women. And according to my doctor, my levels are not “low” by medical standards, so there’s nothing to treat.

So here’s where I take a moment to apologize to the white-coated PSBC technicians who prick my finger to get the blood drop for the iron test. I sit in the tiny room that feels eerily like a Catholic church confessional, and because I believe in mind over matter, I will chant in my head: “Be the iron. Be filled with lots of iron,” and then I’ll wait breathlessly for the result. And here’s why I apologize: Because when I don’t pass, I swear like an inebriated longshoreman in spite of all attempts to amicably shrug and say, “OK. Maybe next time.”

The Bloodmobile will probably be rolling around again in January. I am now taking a 65mg iron tablet a day. I’ll show them, those #!!?#?##!!!


You can reach Pat Detmer — who will give her signed book to anyone who donates at the Newcastle Y Bloodmobile for the first time in his or her life — at

An open apology to what’s your name

November 7, 2014


I know that you told me your name. I probably repeated it as we shook hands, and I likely nodded as if I was embedding it into my gray matter. But my gray matter is slippery. I forgot. It’s what I do. Read more

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