Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grrrrrrr!

I woke up this morning feeling angry and raring for a fight and
facing a day fully scheduled with things I would rather not do.
Perfect scenario for a lousy time to be had by all. Spent a few
minutes wondering where the peevishness has come from. Those hormones
I wrote about a while back? A stray gamma ray that sped through and
played billiards with the emotive neurons in my skull? It wasn't
getting out on the wrong side of the bed or I'd have ended up through
the wall and outside in the wet garden. So where?

Ah, the dream. When I woke up I was mid dream in a not-quite argument
with a family member. It was one of those improbable but interesting
situations invented in dreams and I was about to express myself to
the sibling in loud and nasty terms. The question is: Which came
first? The emotion or the dream? Did having anger give rise to a
dream where it could be acted out, or did the situation in the dream
produce the anger?

Either way, the trick will be not to let the residual irascibility
multiply and go forth!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feeling Overwhelmed

From time to time the Stuff of life seems to become more of a burden
than a delight. It behooves me to use the irritation, the feeling of
drowning in material goods, to lighten the load. It can also come as
a case of winter blues or a bit of manic summer mania. The current
infection is probably a touch of spring fever. Whatever the source, I
find myself looking around to put-away, throw-away, or give-away.

This morning my eye settled on my computer desk, or at least at what
is visible of that sad structure. Six feet of table, bent under the
weight of my iMac, printer, CDs, reference books, papers,
knickknacks... I may even have a paddywhack and a dog bone under
there somewhere. How much of this debris does one person need?
Obviously I thought I needed it when I filed and piled, and since
ignored it all. Time to carve a swath through the mountains. Out,
Out, Out! Heck, just seeing a bit of surface around the keyboard
other than the sacred spot reserved for my coffee cup would be lovely.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Oregon Limericks

A few more of the dozen I wrote....

Climatically speaking I might
Say the Oregon coast winter's a fright
Cold, windy, and wet
You tend to forget
That in summer it's clear... well, at night.

If you spy someone with an umbrella
No matter a gal or a fella,
That daughter or son
Isn't from Oregon.
They're surely an outta state dwella.

Langlois
You've heard of Lang-loys, have you not?
Though pronouncing it isn't so hot.
Lang-wah is a curse,
Lang-low-is is worse,
And the natives say Langless a lot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oregon Limericks

I wrote a few lines for a recent "Oregon Limerick" contest in the
Eugene Register-Guard. Apparently the universe was laughing the day I
sent in my entries (an even dozen!) and the 1s and 0s either hit the
newspapers bit bucket or were overlooked. Grief! To assuage my
vanity, here are a couple of the better of my entries. Perhaps the
state sentiment was a tad off kilter, but at least they scan better
than some of the competition!

The south coast of Oregon's missed.
We don't make the state's LookHere! list.
The Salem folks say
"They've all gone away!
That area doesn't exist."

Curry County is facing a crisis
The solving of which would delight us.
Bankruptcy in view,
We're way overdue
For financial belt tighten-itis.

Most of the tourists we get
Say this valley is named Will-a-MET
So listen here, Dammit
We call it Wil-LAM-ette
And we don't want you bums to forget.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Music, music, music!

Enthusiasms: I'm a creature of, especially in music. Deep immersion
for days, weeks, months. It verges on obsessive at times but there is
just enough of the curious to carry me on to another enthusiasm,
eventually. Sometimes the previous one drops totally out of favor and
sometimes it remains an enduring, or at least recurring friend.

And this leads up to my passion for Les Charbonniers de L'Enfer.
Perfect. Fulfills my love for a capella and for world music. Of
course I don't understand French so have no idea what their songs are
about, but oh how I love the sound!

And speaking of music I love but have not a clue what the songs are
about, how about Bhangra? Love the sound of Punjabi pop. And
Hawaiian? Oh, and Cuban, Argentinean tango... And I've recently
discovered some great Scandinavian albums. So much music, so little
time!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feline Fizzix

I sleep with a little yellow cat. (Note: She does not sleep with me.
That word order would suggest that I own the bed and allow her to
occupy space on it. That is not at all the truth of the situation)
The little yellow cat weighs about eight pounds. On a good day.
Dripping wet. Since we are in Oregon and it is currently winter this
will be her condition when she comes into the house for the night.
The aforementioned little yellow cat has the ability to manipulate
gravity. Really.

That little yellow cat can levitate from floor to bed, alighting with
nary a bounce, as gently as a butterfly descends to a blossom. She
floats upward without a sign of a crouch or spring mechanism at work.
Once landed she adjusts Newtonian physics to become one with the bed.
Try and remove her from her chosen pillow and eight pounds becomes
exponentially increased. Once I have gone to bed her knack for
distorting gravity extends to me. She enlarges the field, centers me
in her scope, and does her feline hocus-pocus. She pins me in place
as effectively as a entomologist pins that butterfly to a display
board. There will be no human movement until and unless a little
yellow cat has been sufficiently petted to assume kitty coma.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Morning analysis

Was it George Burns or Ben Franklin who said, "I wake up every
morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the
obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up."

I don't read a newspaper and the waking up seems to answer the
obituary requirement. But there many days when deciding whether to
get up is questionable. As consciousness returns there is a subtle
checklist of the systems that takes place. Wiggle this, stretch that.
Is everything is nominal working order? Rise and totter off for the
waking rites: parcel out pills, make coffee and toast, feed the cat -
an every morning dance that settles the bones into their respective
places, not graceful, a sort of cross between a minuet and break
dancing, with breakage a real possibility.

Toast and coffee assembled, the next object is checking to make sure
the brain cells are firing. Silly maybe, but friends my age treat
every memory lapse as signs of the onset of senility and I've caught
myself hesitating with that spectre peeking over my shoulder. So I
conduct a morning test of my own by doing a daily crossword puzzle
and playing The Set Game (The Set Game Company Homepage). Pass the
test, finish the coffee, and get on with the day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Full Moon

Woo Wee! Did you get a glimpse of the full moon early this morning?
You'd have to be granite-based not to feel both deliciously
insignificant and wonderfully at the center of all creation. I've
always seen a woman's face there: chubby-cheeked and smiling down,
bemused and fond of what she sees. Pictures of the moon never carry
that image, nor does it appear when I look through binoculars or
telescope. Where does she go, this gently happy lady watching down,
only visible to my unaltered view? Why does she hide when I look too
close?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Sign of Spring

I saw the first pale pink fruit tree blossoms of the year this
morning. The sight helped to raise my spirits which were dampening,
along with my hair, in the return of the rain.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Sale

Yesterday was our community library's annual book sale and I had a
grand time pottering around the tables finding treasures to bring
home. The Lion's Club had coffee and sweets available for sale and I
sat with a cinnamon roll and chatted with acquaintances from town
before venturing out for another quick check of the sale books.

Great place to be a voyeur. I got to see what dusty volumes had been
on the shelves in our area (boxed set of paperback encyclopedia,
seemingly never opened), what books had been popular but not keepers
(4 copies of The DaVinci Code), and what reading my neighbors were
taking home (a John Grisham assortment). My scores were all fiction:
books by Carson McCullers, Charlotte Bronte, C.S. Lewis, and Mark
Twain. These go on my TO READ stack - an alarming tall and tottering
edifice.

We are so fortunate. I'm certain that wealth is measured by the books
available, and between bookstores and libraries, even in our rural
area, there is so much. My life is filled with the joy of words and
language. I find great company among people who read.

While I'm enthusing over books let me share this website:
BookCrossing - The World's Biggest Free Book Club - Catch and Release
Used Books
http://www.bookcrossing.com/home

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Not a lot of folks who know him would think of my husband as a big
sentimental guy. He holds his feelings pretty close. But every
Valentine's Day for over 38 years he has thrilled my heart with his
expressions of love.

I can't remember exactly which year his tradition began but it was
probably during the time we had a single car which I had possession
of during the day. He was stuck at work in a complex with no access
to shops full of cards and candy. He would make me a Valentine card
from whatever bits and pieces were available around the office. And,
knowing I'm not much for roses, on his walk home from work would buy
chrysanthemums from the stand near our house. Over the years he
created his cards from lists I'd submit before the day. Early lists
held such items as flowers, words of love, and poetry. Later I'd make
it tougher with things like: something shiny, 99 ways to say I Love
You, fancy papers. The fun was the way he'd interpret the list and
always fulfill the requests. My man has the soul of a performance
artist and a very quirky sense of humor. He is definitely an original.

I no longer have the flowers he once made me from kleenex and paper
clips but I do have a box of Valentines from the past. This years
offering will join them after I've had another few listens (song and
video presentation) and the tears of joy that go with them.

I love you too, My Big Sweetie.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It Came Out!!

The sun or the fog must have heard my grousing because right now it
is gloriously sunny outdoors. I walked down the road to my neighbor's
house and I swear the scent of blossoming trees was in the air,
though so far not a single tree has seriously budded. A few
naturalized daffodils are open and there was a purple mini-iris
bravely facing the Oregon morning. Surely the sound I heard among the
bird noises was the sound of those flowers singing to hurry spring
along? There will be more rain, wind and cold. Winter is not yet
gone. But, THREE CHEERS - new growth and the surge of life is on the
way.

Sunshine, Please?

There was a clear night sky viewable from my bedroom window and I was
hoping for sunshine this morning. Can you hear my disappointed sigh?
There is a uniform layer of gray. Clouds? Coastal fog? Either one is
possible along the Oregon coast and either one can persist all day,
week, month. I love being close to the ocean but have to grit my
teeth a bit when the sun, what little we get of it in a state that is
part of the NorthWET, is obscured by the blasted fog bank which is
nearly always poised to roll in. There are places to the north of us,
Bandon for instance, that get more of it; there are places to the
south, Brookings is a prime example, that get less. Here we get a
throw-the-dice and see-what-comes-up crap shoot.

And those two last words, used as expletives, describe my feelings
right now.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What Day Is It?

Waking up involves assessment and there seems to be more of it as I
grow older. Sleep recedes, consciousness slowly seeps through my head
bringing awareness of the world, bit by bit. Once I understand again
who I am there is a moment when I fix myself in time, life-wise: Ah,
this is me and I'm this age. The question of where am I is answered:
Aha, I'm at my home in Oregon and this is my bed. After that is
figuring out the day of the week and what that implies. It is a
fascinating process. Sometimes it is quick and some days it requires
minutes to get all the facts in place before I can start This Day as Me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A couple of cat words

Living with a cat gives ample opportunity to examine the deeper
meanings of the words: arbitrary and irritating. Quite a few other
words can be stimulated by cat ownership but those two are topping
the list this morning. My in-the-house cat (as opposed to the
neutered male with unseemly bathroom habits who lives outdoors)
generally sleeps until I wake up in the morning, then she goes
outside for the day. Today she followed me to the front door and
waited as I opened it, then stood just sufficiently back from the
open door so as to prevent my toe from providing forward momentum to
her posterior. She stared at the opening and listened to me cajole in
my best cat parent style, "C'mon Flick, outside! Time to go out. Here
ya go. Go on out." She looked. She considered. She began to wash a
suddenly interesting paw. I stepped back to try and sidle around her
for an encouraging "Pfffffft!" and toe nudge. She ducked under the
couch, made an end run through the hall, into the bedroom, and under
the bed.

Okay, I know defeat when I see it. Obviously she wants to sleep in.
It is cold outside and early. So I go on and prepare my morning
coffee, find the book I'm reading, and snuggle down into a chair. I'm
warm, comfortable and just getting into the story when a small yellow-
furred demoness appears at my feet to utter a loud "Meow". That
single syllable translates to "I need to go out right NOW! Yes, I WAS
going to go back to bed but I suddenly realized that I have to pee
and I absolutely refuse to use that convenient litter box you
provided and if I can't go out right now my bladder will explode and
it will all be YOUR fault."

You already know what happened next, but at least she did go out the
door this time.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Language

Like many I fuss and fume over the current state of language and
punctuation. I'm painfully aware of my limitations in both areas but
that doesn't slow me down in my critical assessment of the lack of
them in the world around me. A single glance through a newspaper is
chilling. Reading blogs can be horrifying. Being an English teacher
in a time of chat rooms must be an experience in futility. But while
I worry over commas and rely on a spell checker, I growl about what
the world has come to and join others in despairing over the loss of
what we consider proper usage.

Reality check. I just completed reading a marvelous book by Bill
Bryson: Shakespeare, The World As Stage. As Bryson tells it the
bard's entire age was one of creative spelling: words being written
as they sounded to the ear and in different ways within a single
sentence by the same author. Mr. Shakespeare seems to have been a
master of neologisms. To quote Bryson "Among the first words found in
Shakespeare are abstemious, antipathy, critical, frugal, dwindle,
extract, horrid, vast, hereditary, excellent, eventful, barefaced,
assassination, lonely, leapfrog, indistinguishable, well-read, zany,
and countless others (including countless)." He was also someone who
coined phrases never before seen, many of which we commonly use today.

IMNSHO this man we consider a gifted genius of the language was
somewhat like the teen in today's online chat room. He changed and
revitalized the language. I wonder if his readers and listeners
sniffed in lofty disdain? LMAO - at myself.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Blogging

My friend on Sixtyfivewhatnow made a lovely reference to reading
blogs as entering the sacred spaces of people's homes, closets, and
hope chests. That is such a hopeful and pleasant analogy. I'm not
sure it covers my blog.

There may be treasure in my closet and hope chest but there is also
dust and junk that would raise an eyebrow on Antiques Roadshow.
Sometimes the door will open on, not a cupboard, but onto the the
scrap bin or compost heap. Anything might tumble out when you open
the door: a mixed pile of valuables and memorabilia, old pictures,
new ideas, a wilted radish or two. Mining the detritus could be
educational. The compost here could end up being a medium for growth.
Anything is possible.

Hmmm, I wonder if I enjoy reading blogs for the same reason I like
wandering Goodwill stores, used bookshops, and flea markets?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Politics Again?!

If only candidate time was spent saying something, anything
worthwhile instead of firing off another salvo against the opponents.
When there is a break from potshots it is to ooze promises they
neither can, nor intend to keep.

Isn't it a pity that political speechwriters don't belong to the same
union as the writers in Hollywood?

Is is part of some vast anti-electorate campaign to begin the
presidential election process so far ahead that by the time it rolls
around most voters are just relieved to get it over?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cranky Old Woman Two

Age has smoothed some of the sharp edges on the Cranky Old Woman.
Those hormone induced emotional charges still swoop through but I
recognize them much of the time, can sit them out, and wait for
rationality to re-enter the vehicle. After many years of being
overwhelmed by the car chase of temperament I can sit back during the
trip and look out the window. Who would want to miss the ride?

Cranky Old Woman

Feeling powerful waves of... Nostalgia? Since it isn't connected to
anything, a letter from an old friend for instance, I figure it is
the result of a surge in the chemical soup pulsing around in my
innards. Some enzyme or other surged into overdrive, zoomed up the
spinal elevator, dashed into the main office of my brain, and sprayed
emotional bullets all over the place. It could as easily have been
Sadness, Irritation, Anxiety. They all have been known to commandeer
the controls and send me spinning out of the superintendent seat.

In the old days, the fertile female years, those chemical punches
made regular assaults. Beware the woman with PMS. I'd wake up wanting
to clean the entire world and tear small cuddly animals to bits with
my teeth. Like many females I learned to utilize the energy rush and
warn my spouse that a berserker lurked behind his wife's eyes.

Naively, I assumed menopause would smooth out the torrent and still
the tides. Menopause made it worse. And now that menopause has turned
into menostop it seems the biggest change is the loss of regularity
in the onslaughts. Monthly energy and anger are no longer dependable.
It is weekly, or daily, or monthly and can be fear, fatigue,
impatience, or any other emotion in the file cabinet. Welcome to the
world of a Cranky Old Woman.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cornbread & Chili

Last night I made winter comfort food for dinner: chili and
cornbread. It is a perfect meal for a cold rainy night and in Oregon
we get plenty of chilly wet days that make us call for comfort
meals... stew, pot roast, soup.

Never a great cook, over the years my cooking skills have diminished
a lot. The cornbread was barely edible, though my husband liked it. I
tried to shortcut by mixing cornmeal with Biscuick and adding canned
creamed corn. I should have baked it longer. Okay, I should have
skipped it completely but cornbread was on the menu.

The chili I made was okay at best though, Oooops! I forgot what chili
- WITH BEANS - does to the intestinal system. This is one time when
the fact that I arise early and the hubbie comes to bed late was a
good idea! The air was lethal in the bedroom and the cat abandoned
the room for a less loud and odiferous place to sleep.

Fearing a methane disaster I have changed today's menu and there will
be NO refried beans on my SuperBowl nachos this afternoon. It would
result in either murder or suicide. Or both.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Weather Cat Day!

Since Marmota monax isn't a local resident I have resorted to
celebrating February Twooth as Weather Cat Day. My weather cat raced
out the front door of her ranch style burrow this morning, trying to
dodge raindrops, and utterly failed to see her shadow. I interpret
this to mean that it is raining today. Since we are in Oregon and
smack dab in the middle of the Great NorthWet this is not surprising.
I predict rain will continue for at least another week and probably
longer. That information came from a local meteorologist, backed up
by the newspaper and The Weather Channel.

Weather Cat says "Meow" and you can interpret her comment, wet cat
that she is, any way you like.