Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whale Watch - Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of our volunteer duty for the winter
portion of the Gray Whale migration. Hubbie and I have been
volunteering for a decade or so. We chat with tourists and try to
point out views of the migrating whales and provide such information
as we can about these wonderful animals.

Because we live in proximity to Cape Blanco, here on the Oregon
coast, we usually are stationed there. I love talking with folks and
sharing my enthusiasm for the grays, and I love the stark beauty of
Cape Blanco and the Pacific Ocean. But. There is always a but, isn't
there? As the decade has worn on my go-go-go attitude over the entire
activity has waned. The Pacific coast can be a weather nightmare in
winter and Cape Blanco is in contention for worst spot to be in bad
weather.

As the farthest west spot in Oregon, Cape Blanco gets the brunt of
incoming storms. If there is wind, rain, hail, or nastiness of any
kind it gets there first and best. The spot for whale watching is
totally exposed to all of that good stuff. There are days when the
wind howls through and one can't open the car door to exit the
vehicle. Tourists who venture the 5 mile drive from the highway,
circle the parking area, point cameras at the lighthouse (if they are
lucky it will be visible and not lost in the fog), click and depart.
When the wind gusts get to the 45-50mph range I insist we abandon our
post and leave. If the rain is not heavy and steady we can watch the
squalls approach over the bay and duck into the car before getting
soaked. In steady rain we simply huddle inside hoping it will let up
enough for us to see the ocean again. Whales? Not much of a chance
for spotting them in rough seas or rain.

But the weather isn't my biggest "What am I doing this for?" maker.
No. As a woman moving from mid-life to seniortude I am most
inconvenienced, nay, appalled at the lack of a bathroom anywhere
close to where we spend 3 hours touting the marvels of the gray
whales. I give up my morning coffee and sip gently at the water used
to swallow my morning pills. I rue the lack of bush, shrub, or tree
that might provide coverage for emergency situations. I consider the
distance to the campground and try to keep my swearing quiet and
minimal. The aching cold of my fingers and toes pales beside the
strain of NO BIFFY.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh, I dunno...

Christmas is over and in a few more days we can get back to what
passes for normal. Whoever thought is was a good idea to put
Christmas and New Year so close together should have to stand nude at
Cape Blanco during whale watch. I think it would cause a permanent
case of petrified nubbies - and serve them right.

All this forced merry-making! There have been times recently I felt
trapped in some sort of Who-ville. It is hard to believe that for
much of my life I measured time from one high point (spell that H-O-L-
I-D-A-Y) to the next, discounting the in-betweens. Now I look forward
to the in-betweens and feel that those high spots are some sort of
imposition. Maybe it is just that I prefer my highs less high?

And now, for a few more days, I shall be amused to listen to various
resolutions being made for the year to come. I'll do my best not to
chuckle, but I've been around long enough to know changes come when
they come and seldom when we impose a schedule. But I applaud those
who try.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Still Watching...

The husband and I are zeroing in on our holiday movie-viewing goal.
Last night we watched *MY* favorite seasonal flick - We're No Angels,
starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray. I chortled and
tee-heed through the whole thing. Am I the only person out there who
cherishes this movie as a Christmas tradition? The repartee amongst
the three stars cracks me up!

For the hubbie we watched Bill Murray in Scrooged. It is worth
persevering through Murray's over-acting just to see Carol Kane as
the spirit of Christmas present beat the crap out of him. I'm rather
fond of the scenes where Bob Goldthwait chases Murray around the
office with a shotgun. Oh the holiday spirit!

And here it is Christmas Eve. We still have Wonderful Life and A
Christmas Story to watch to complete the media season. I think we'll
make it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Music woe

We don't get a reliable radio signal at our house so besides playing
CDs I've become accustomed to listening to classical music through
our satellite TV provider. There is a variety of music offered, 99%
of it rock or rap or r&b but one can glean a couple of channels of
classical amongst the seemingly endless sets and subsets of the other
stuff. As the music plays a label floats around the TV screen showing
Title/Artist/CD/Label for the selection currently being played. And
this is where my complaint for the day is centered.

Song title, singer and name of the album works just fine for pop
music but classical music needs COMPOSER displayed. Probably nobody
much cares who wrote a particular 60's do-wop tune or r&b ballad but
classical music is identified with composer first, then selection and
performer. Whoever created the titles for music on TV doesn't take
this into account and it is aggravating. Like it would be so hard to
add another line to the template? Obviously the honchos in charge
don't know much about classical music. Hey you guys, wake up!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting in the mood

Getting into the holiday spirit can involve all sorts of traditions
and the one to which I am most susceptible involves television and
movies. Music I can resist for a while though Jingle Bell Rock and
Feliz Navidad will eventually wear me down and I'll end up absent-
mindedly humming Little St. Nick or White Christmas. Decorating I try
to ignore since putting stuff up means twice the work since it must
all be taken down again. Gift buying is a reality I'm trying to
master and tame. But the movies, the television? Ya got me there.

Thus far I've seen three different versions of A Christmas Carol...
Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott, and Reginald Owen. Ah, the Bah-
humbuginess of it all! I happily recite favorite lines, wince at the
kid playing Tiny Tim and shudder at the attempts to create a passable
Christmas-yet-to-come.

This year has been a good year for Nutcracker enthusiasts: seven
different versions. I've seen four so far while my husband is now at
six and aiming for a perfect score. There is the classic version by
the Bolshoi, the Maurice Sendak pedophile and the what-has-this-got-
to-do-with-it Maurice Bejart persoanl orgy of self-indulgence. My
favorite interpretation, by the Mark Morris dance company, is updated
to the 60's and wonderfully danced mixing male and females amongst
the characters usually danced by women. It sticks enough to the well
known tale and is lots of fun.

Still to come on my list: A Christmas Story, and Bogart in we're No
Angels... and maybe It's a Wonderful Life. Gotta get those angels
their wings, right?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting at the issues: personal note

Obligation: An act or course of action to which a person is morally
or legally bound; a duty or commitment. A debt of gratitude for a
service or favor.

This mornings revelation - the sense of obligation and the dread of
it is directly related to the fear of being found disappointing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seasonal thoughts

Thinking about the season, all the holiday foo-fer-rah and I realized
it doesn't depress me really. The Bah-Humbug! that gets expressed has
more to do with my resentment of the social expectations of what the
Christmas holiday should look like and mean to me and what I must do
to be thought a part of it.

I must decorate - lights, evergreens, red and green baubles. I must
suddenly appreciate snow and snowmen, eggnog and gingerbread. Carols
must be sung, presents bought and wrapped, cards sent. Dishes must be
prepared for potlucks, cookies baked, a festive meal planned. I must
smile and be joyful, generous, and celebratory.

But I don't want to, at least not every day for all the weeks between
Thanksgiving and New Year. Different parts of the whole thing appeal
to me on different days. I've listened to a few songs, watched some
DIckens and Tchaikovsky, mailed a few gifts, put up some flashing
lights at the window. It has been just enough. I'm willing to put a
few spays of fir in a vase for a non-chopped tree substitute and bake
some ham for dinner on the day. Can I politely refrain from
wassailing? May I remain inside with a book and not be seen as a
Grinch or a Scrooge? It is hard to find the line that allows me to
express the spirit without feeling that my choices aren't viewed as
anti-social. Or perhaps they are anti-social? How many of us would be
doing all this stuff if it wasn't "the way it always was"?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vladimir Putin?

Have you ever had one of those blinding moments of clarity that tell
you what or why about something in your life? That just happened to me.

My husband just entered the room and announced "I dreamt about
Vladimir Putin last night." and in a flash I was aware what a unique
and strange man with whom my life is spent. How many people in this
world, at least in the old USA could make an statement like that?

Not that it isn't apparent every day. He provides enough blogfodder
that I've considered changing the name of this column to "Who *IS*
This Man, Anyway?" His brain is skewed, his way of viewing the world
is off plumb by half a bubble - plus or minus a fraction. His sense
of humor and wry observances have entertained me for almost half a
century. They have occasionally caused me to look at him with
murderous intent. But more often they change a blah moment into
laughter. We just shared our 39th wedding anniversary and I'm hoping
we make it to gold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KIVA.org

In honor of the season I just made my first loan through KIVA.org -
something I have thought about for a long time. Microfinance of
individual small businesses throughout the world can't be any worse
than the billions we are expected to toss to Wall Street and Detroit
can it? Since we retired my husband I I don't have a lot of
discretionary money but I'm reminded of a good friend who insists on
trusting the universe aka god and who believes in keeping the good
flowing through her. She introduced me to Heifer International and
helped me make my first contribution to The Global Fund for Women.

Whether within our own communities or in the larger global community
Christmas should be about giving to make this a better place for
everyone. I'm grateful that I am able to do so.

Check out the organizations I mentioned and reach out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow?!

The universe certainly isn't being very supportive of me staying un-
Grinchy. There is disgusting white stuff to be scraped off the car
this morning before I venture forth and some in the yard as well,
though at least it is a light dusting and not a multitudinous
gathering and will probably, hopefully, (oh-please-let-it-be-so) melt
early and restore the proper green order of things.

In the meantime I have officially re-Grinchified!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Music

Today I officially removed myself from the Grinch list and proceeded
to embrace the season. At least I tried to jump into the holiday
spirit. It is a challenge. The hubbie is HELPING (questionable at
best) by playing his eclectic collection of timely music. This would
make a stronger person than I am shudder.

I'm not by any means a strict traditionalist... well, beyond our
personal holiday traditions anyway. My list of get-in-the-mood music
includes Jingle Bell Rock as well as Bing Crosby and the Hallelujah
Chorus. (No, not Bing Crosby doing Handel!) My husband however has
been collecting all the online freebie Christmas music he can find.
He puts the EC in eclectic. Christmas Day by Desmond Decker and the
Aces, Silent Night (on harmonica), Christmas Reindeer by The Knife (I
actually rather like this one), and This Christmas by Louis XIV -
this last is really a cringer!

After hearing a few of these I'm begging him to spread the.... Ah,
Joy, to family and friends. Coming soon to a wrapped package under
YOUR tree!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Goose in a New World

I went to file my previous entry about fruitcake and discovered that
363 days ago I made a somewhat similar wail on the subject. If this
pattern perseveres no further writing will be needed. I can just
recycle blogs from the past.

Tis the season to ...FRUITCAKE!

Fruitcake is one of the joys of the holiday season and we are serious
lovers of fruitcake at this house. The Christmas turkey and pumpkin
pie and all that are still in memory from Thanksgiving but fruitcake?
Still pending.

This luscious treat seems to have become an object of derision and I
am hereby encouraging all those sneering cake re-gifters to send
contributions to me. I read about people trying to rid themselves of
the unwanted dessert while I actually had to go online yesterday and
buy one so we wouldn't miss out. I'm already drooling in anticipation
of a dark, rich, fruit and nut filled slice accompanying an after
dinner cup of coffee. Yummmmmm!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Music

The husband wanders into the room and asks, "Do you want to hear a
Christmas song that will make you want to lobotomize yourself through
your nose?"

"Sure, nasal lobotomies are so seasonal."

Whereupon he plays a loud rockin' version of Little St. Nick done by
Hanson.

I didn't think it was quite that bad. But then I've already heard
Ding Dong by Diana Ross and had my seasonal brain mashing.

For Rosaria


A friend who lives locally and also blogs just wrote an entry wondering where the Oregon rain has gone. I'm thinking she doesn't listen to the weather reports. Her worries over wearing T-shirts in December and having mild weather are due to come to a screeching halt.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Couture Observations

So I'm sitting in the car waiting for the husband who is fetching
lunch from Dairy Queen and I'm watching the teens from the high
school down the block walk by on their way to the local market deli
to forage. The following thoughts cross my mind:

None of these kids is wearing clothes in the proper size.

The boys wear their clothes several sizes too large.
The girls wear their clothes several sizes to small.

This is interesting since in general boys want to appear bigger and
tougher - and the baggy shirts and sagging jeans make them look like
little brothers wearing the big siblings stuff.
In general girls want to look skinnier - and the skin tight denims
matched with stretched crop tops make them all look about 30 pounds
overweight.

Whose idea of style is this and why do they hate adolescents?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holidays - more musings

I haven't been a complete hold-out regarding the holidays. My
donation/order to Heifer International has been made and the cards
received to send to those who shared that gift-giving with me. Toys
have been purchased for the grandkids and things ordered for the
daughter and SIL. I've writhed over the budget seeing how what I want
to do simply doesn't fit in with reality. I set a schedule for what
must be done, and when. These are all large parts of my retirement
holiday preparations.

Schedule... such good intentions. This weekend the list was headed
with Write Cards & Wrap for the Mail (those few things I just refuse
to bypass) - and I had every intention of accomplishing the writing
and wrapping. Note the past tense. Unless something major happens in
the next few hours those shall remain intentions. The Grinch is still
strong and laziness prevails.

And how are YOUR holiday plans going?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Countdown

I've been resisting acknowledging that December arrived. It came just
to spite me, without my permission, and seems determined to remain
for a while. "This too shall pass" is consoling but in the meantime
the holidays are barreling this direction.

Yeah, major attitude problem, and I thought it was firmly entrenched
but last night there was a huge disturbance in the Force. The
television was on and the usual nightly game of channel tennis was on
and Whoops! I landed on The Polar Express. Sappy movie but there I
was, stuck. A chink has been created in the Bah-Humbug armor. Before
long it will be Boris Karloff and the Grinch, then A Wonderful Life
and A Christmas Story. At last I will surrender into a slurry of
versions of Dicken's Christmas Carol. It happens every year.

I'm holding out as long as I can on the daily assault of caroling
music though.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thankful for Morning

I've written before about my nostalgia for those years when heading
to bed promised a night of restful sleep leading to a day full of
energy. The triple A threat of age, apnea, and arthritis put an end
to sleep as respite from a busy day. My night is commonly divided
between my bed and a close-by comfy chair and punctuated by one or
two trips to the bathroom. Random bouts of insomnia stop by to spice
the mixture - the sort of insomnia where one is too tired to get up
and do something useful but not sufficiently exhausted to drop into
sleep.

A new twist has been added to the snooze sonata. I rise to the
bathroom occasion and return from the trek ready to resume slumber
and the arthritic, no-longer-quite-functioning left knee has a temper
tantrum. No pain walking mind you. The pain begins when I sit down.
No position relieves the agony of red-hot poker twisting inside the
joint torture. Eventually it diminishes a bit leaving the knee with
an odd sensation of muscle spasm and me with the intense need to find
another position where the leg can relax. Slight movement and it is
back to square one with the pain level. It is like it says on the
shampoo bottle: Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Last night this entertainment went on for over two hours. I wandered
the house trying to find someplace, some posture, to provide relief.
eventually the combination of ibuprophen and weariness overcame the
cycle and I fell asleep, back in the place the whole thing began. So
far I have no clue as to why one night the knee is extra cranky and
another night there is no unusual problem other than the normal
aching. The clues as to what to do to avoid the condition or to
alleviate it are likewise missing. My cat is quite eager for me to
unravel this puzzle. She needs her beauty sleep. I just need sleep.