Monday, November 30, 2009

I Did It!


I made it! This is my National Blog Posting Month Last Post. I can fall back to my once-or-twice-a-week-maybe-more-maybe-less habit and will do so with renewed respect for anyone creating a daily column, blog, TV show, or podcast. Renewed respect mixed with understanding of why a lot of it is so pointless and superficial. Vision and originality fall quick victims to the need to produce.

Quality gasps and dies when quantity is required. Okay, seems like I should be able to draw a witty parallel here for the entertainment media and we could all nod knowingly and mutter "what a world, what a world." But as with many rules this one has plenty of exceptions and you probably can come up with a list of your own. Start with films that had plenty of budget, talent, and time but still were out and out clunkers. How about columnists whose slots in the newspaper were the first pages you turned to after reading the headlines? I'll back off a pace or two from the parallel and offer it as a guideline instead of a rule.

I've found that the goal helped me to write more often, rather like when I decided to prove to the dentist that daily flossing (I didn't) wouldn't really help my teeth. Sheer stubborness made flossing a daily habit for six months. That was several years ago and I still floss almost daily. Maybe ths NaBloPoMo experience will effect me in similar fashion?

(By the way - the dentist was right about the flossing.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And now on to...

Our trip to Eugene was great. I got my empanadas, the husband had time to peruse the recycled computer goodies at Next Step, and we had a terrific meal that was both a Thanksgiving feast with all the important items like turkey, yams, and cranberries PLUS turkey soup. And may I mention that the gravy was sublime? Forget ambrosia! The taste supreme is that forkful of yam, cranberry, and gravy all slurried together. Oh My God! My tongue was writhing in gustatory nirvana!

It only occurred to me a few minutes ago that with the wonderful food and the afternoon entertainment - a scripted puppet show starring the six-year old granddaughter and her mother - my camera never once left my purse. Is this the ultimate in besotted grandmothers? Pictures of the progeny are staples of the trade after all, and I was having such a good time I neglected my duty to take Boasting Photos. I may be drummed out of Grandmothers Anonymous!

Today I can officially begin the Christmas season. The lights and decorations that caught my eye before Thanksgiving received a growl and a Bah!Humbug! from my Grinchy interior. I even felt a shudder as I returned from the bathroom and the first carol of the season oozed from the muzak speaker at McDonald's. But maybe it was because I hadn't had my morning cup of coffee yet.

There are some important seasonal rituals to come. We'll try to catch as many different version of A Christmas Carol on television as possible. My husband will scan the listing looking for the Marlo Thomas version which we agree is one of the worst shows ever made. We'll enjoy the saga of the Red Ryder BB gun and watch Mr. Potter get his eventual comeuppance in Its a Wonderful Life. And we'll watch the Grinch and recite Dr. Seuss along with Boris Karloff. Today my star of sparkling lights will come down from the attic and in a few days I'll crave the scent of pine boughs inside the house. We don't kill a tree anymore but substitute a vase of branches from one of the fir trees on our property.

Oh, and we'll try to recover from the eating binge of Thanksgiving in time for the eating binge of Christmas!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Over the River

...And through the woods, to Grand-daughter's house we go!

The holiday isn't quite right without family in it somewhere, is it? We're hoping for turkey soup since leftovers are the best part of the feast and my son-in-law is a great cook. I'm also hoping the Mexican bakery in town has pumpkin empanadas. Yum!

Friday, November 27, 2009


This was the first Thanksgiving in way too many years, when I did not stuff myself to the point of bursting. It wasn't that there wasn't enough food to do so. Staying home didn't mean that a turkey wasn't prepared. One HAS to have leftover bird for sandwiches! Maybe it was the fact that it was my cooking? A gourmet, I'm not! Basic charing and stirring are about all the cuisine handling that interests me. A somewhat likely reason was lack of the terrific cooking to be had at the house of friends and family. Most of those folks are wonderful and imaginative cooks.

Plenty of food was consumed and with nearly total lack of preparation and fuss. Oh, how I dreaded Thanksgiving during my childhood.

Mother began the meals days in advance. She made a "salad" - only midwesterners could have called it that - walnuts, two colors of halved grapes, and whipped cream frozen into a fancy mold. The cranberries were sweetened and cooked, onions creamed, yams candied. Stuffing for the turkey often contained raisins or chestnuts. I recall one year where it had oysters, but the turkey, rotisseried on the barbecue, spewed it all out into the fire. Pies. Pumpkin and apple, sometimes minced meat as well. The green salad, green vegetable, and relish tray were the last to be fixed as the turkey waited to be carved by my step-father. He used the biggest sharpest carving knife known to man.

Thanksgiving consumption was a team sport. The food was wonderful, plentiful, and calorie-laden. After the dinner we would reel drunkenly into the living room to collapse in front of football on the television, too crammed with turkey to eat dessert. Eventually somebody would heave a sigh and decide it was time for coffee and "maybe a bite of pie", whereupon we re-stuffed with "just a small piece of each, please?"

I think I prefer the moderation, such as it was, of this year. We had a short jaunt out to watch the ocean waves, through rain-soaked car windows - after all it *IS* Oregon! We ate enough to be very full but not in pain. The mess was easily cleaned up and put away allowing for an afternoon snooze. And we will consume turkey soup with family before the week is over. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I suppose 99.9% of blogs that are published today will contain tales
of family dinners and lists of things for which the writers are
thankful. Doing the same just didn't appeal to me. It isn't that I
don't have plenty in my life that is deserving of my gratitude but
that is given every day, mentioned fairly frequently to those who are
the source. Weather/distance being a limiting factor we've postponed
our trip to Eugene in hopes of missing incoming rain and opted for
turkey soup on a day we hope will be sunnier.

Our Thanksgiving Day will be spent quietly and I will be thankful for
that. I'm cooking a small turkey that has been languishing in the
freezer - so we can have leftovers and sandwiches, the part of a
turkey feast we like the best. If the rain holds off past noon we'll
climb in the car and drive the couple of miles to the coast to watch
the waves. Being close to the ocean goes on that list mentioned
above, and we take advantage of surf-watching often. The Pacific
never changes and is always different. If we see the wild turkeys as
we mosey out our gravel road I'll remind them to be grateful they
aren't on a platter. If they keep raiding the fruit trees and
harassing the neighbor's livestock that might not be the case much

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

H hn - I tk t ll th vwls lk y sggstd!

H hn - I tk t ll th vwls lk y sggstd!

M hsbnd rds m blg nd s smtms th src f nd nsprtn fr thngs wrt bt. M rcmmndtn tht h strt blg f hs wn hs prtty mch bn gnrd - whch s s lss t ptntl rdrs s h s wndrflly strng n hs thght prcsss nd th wrld dsrvs xpsr t thm. Y cn ntrprt tht thr s m wsh tht th plnt b nlghtnd b hs brllnc r trtrd b hs wrdnss.

Hs mst rcnt bsrvtn rgrdng th blg ws t prpse tht I wrt n ntr ntr sns vwls. "Thnk f th tm svd wth s mn fwr lttrs t rd," h sd, "Wht n blzs r y thnkng?" M rspns, whrpn h cted sm std dne t shw tht s lng s th frst nd lst lttrs wr crrct th mddl f wrds cld b scrmbld nd rdrs cld stll zp alng nd ndrstnd wht ws wrttn.

m ncnvncd tht rmvng ll th vwls wll wrk n smlr fshn bt t s wrth th xprmnt. Hw gd r y t d-cphrng txt wtht ll th - - - - nd ?

(and for those of you who need a translation AND can stand on your head...)

¿ʎ puɐ n-o-ı-ǝ-ɐ ǝɥʇ llɐ ʇnoɥʇıʍ ʇxǝʇ ƃuıɹǝɥdʎɔ-ǝp ʇɐ noʎ ǝɹɐ pooƃ ʍoɥ ˙ʇuǝɯıɹǝdxǝ ǝɥʇ ɥʇɹoʍ sı ʇı ʇnq uoıɥsɐɟ ɹɐlıɯıs uı ʞɹoʍ llıʍ slǝʍoʌ ǝɥʇ llɐ ƃuıʌoɯǝɹ ʇɐɥʇ pǝɔuıʌuoɔun ɯɐ ı

˙uǝʇʇıɹʍ sɐʍ ʇɐɥʍ puɐʇsɹǝpun puɐ ƃuolɐ dız llıʇs plnoɔ sɹǝpɐǝɹ puɐ pǝlqɯɐɹɔs ǝq plnoɔ spɹoʍ ɟo ǝlppıɯ ǝɥʇ ʇɔǝɹɹoɔ ǝɹǝʍ sɹǝʇʇǝl ʇsɐl puɐ ʇsɹıɟ ǝɥʇ sɐ ƃuol sɐ ʇɐɥʇ ʍoɥs oʇ ǝuop ʎpnʇs ǝɯos pǝʇıɔ ǝɥ uodnǝɹǝɥʍ 'ǝsuodsǝɹ ʎɯ "¿ƃuıʞɥʇ noʎ ǝɹɐ sǝzɐlq uı ʇɐɥʍ" 'pıɐs ǝɥ "'pɐǝɹ oʇ sɹǝʇʇǝl ɹǝʍǝɟ ʎuɐɯ os ɥʇıʍ pǝʌɐs ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ ɟo ʞɥʇ" ˙slǝʍoʌ suɐs ʎɹʇuǝ ǝɹıʇuǝ uɐ ǝʇıɹʍ ı ʇɐɥʇ ǝsodoɹd oʇ sɐʍ ƃolq ǝɥʇ ƃuıpɹɐƃǝɹ uoıʇɐʌɹǝsqo ʇuǝɔǝɹ ʇsoɯ sıɥ

˙ssǝupɹıǝʍ sıɥ ʎq pǝɹnʇɹoʇ ɹo ǝɔuɐıllıɹq sıɥ ʎq pǝuǝʇɥƃıluǝ ǝq ʇǝuɐld ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʇ ɥsıʍ ʎɯ sɐ ɹǝɥʇıǝ ʇɐɥʇ ʇǝɹdɹǝʇuı uɐɔ noʎ ˙ɯǝɥʇ oʇ ǝɹnsodxǝ sǝʌɹǝsǝp plɹoʍ ǝɥʇ puɐ sǝssǝɔoɹd ʇɥƃnoɥʇ sıɥ uı ǝƃuɐɹʇs ʎllnɟɹǝpuoʍ sı ǝɥ sɐ sɹǝpɐǝɹ lɐıʇuǝʇod oʇ ssol ɐ sɐ ǝǝs ı ɥɔıɥʍ - pǝɹouƃı uǝǝq ɥɔnɯ ʎʇʇǝɹd sɐɥ uʍo sıɥ ɟo ƃolq ɐ ʇɹɐʇs ǝɥ ʇɐɥʇ uoıʇɐpuǝɯɯoɔǝɹ ʎɯ ˙ʇnoqɐ ǝʇıɹʍ ı sƃuıɥʇ ɹoɟ uoıʇɐɹıdsuı puɐ ɟo ǝɔɹnos ǝɥʇ sǝɯıʇǝɯos sı puɐ ƃolq ʎɯ spɐǝɹ puɐqsnɥ ʎɯ

¡pǝʇsǝƃƃns noʎ ǝʞıl slǝʍoʌ ǝɥʇ llɐ ʇno ʞooʇ ı - ʎǝuoɥ ʎǝɥ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pop Culture Blues Two

...Whoa! Can't I keep up with the world? What happens as I lose touch? Will I turn Republican, wear an apron over my housecoat, and attend D.A.R. meetings?

Sixty seems to be the age where I crested the hill and slid down towards Old Fart City. That is the place where we sit around reminiscing, poke each other with our canes, and begin sentences with "In my day."  It is hard to summon up the level of interest staying current demands when I've been around long enough to realize how temporary so much of it is. The faces I see, all mega-stars according to the press, look barely out-of-the-egg. I scan the headlines of an entertainment magazine and nobody is familiar. If a show title jogs my brain it is probably because of the hundreds of promos wedged between the television commercials I avoid. The thought arises that maybe the heart-throbs from my teen years were as interchangeable and forgettable to my mother. (Uh-oh, Understand my mother? A sure sign of old age!)

Music, too, passes me by. My husband is better at keeping aware of the groups and artists since "our day". He downloads lots of free mp3 tracks from indie songsters and his tastes are wider in the pop music genre than mine. Mine have wandered off toward classical composers once eschewed. Where listening to hip-hop and rap might keep me current, I've instead discovered Haydn, Mozart, and Brahms. Culture? Yes. Pop? Not exactly.

Oh well, I can't keep abreast of trends and the urge to try is pretty much gone - but not quite. Getting old doesn't mean I have to be fossilized. Keeping an eye and ear open to the new can't hurt even if it seems harder and harder to do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pop Culture Blues

These days ads on television tout personalities I know nothing about who have Grammy-award winning albums I've never heard. Other ads promote talk shows I've never seen, where young people I don't recognize profess their famous affairs and confess their famous sins with other people I can't identify.

I'm getting old and this is manifesting in my lack of knowledge about popular culture. In the middle of life I was aware of a multitude of names from the television and music industries. Even if you don't watch a particular program or listen to a certain recording artist the names creep into your consciousness and the associated faces are familiar. They become part of what everybody knows and I was one of the knowing.

Somewhere past fifty I began to lose track of those names and faces. Even the names of the shows they were on skidded past my memory banks to plonk on the floor unattended. Music references began to barely make sense as English - with strange spelling and too many initials. I noticed I was losing touch and that bothered me...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Okay, I lied.

Does opening the word processor file for the story count?

I really did plan to work on the story or at least to sit and look as
if I was working on it. But there was an email that had to get out
first. It isn't fair to tell a friend about the heart arrhythmia of
the previous night and then skip answering her questions regarding
it. In the middle of writing to her, a synapse fired and I got the
idea to go back to the local holiday bazaar to buy a wooden bird
sculpture I'd seen the day before. So, the email gets written and
sent, and I'm off to the bazaar where I have coffee and conversation
with a friend who has a table there. Next I examine and price the
birds for sale (disappointment - the one I want is "display only"); I
buy more cookies (no more huckleberry bars, Bummer!).

My next... what shall I call it? Interruption? Avoidance? was a stop
at the library. A friend is the day's substitute librarian. We have a
chat and I share some cookies with her then drive home to find my
husband awake, alert, and primed to launch into conversation whenever
my fingers approach my keyboard. Instead of writing I make lunch,
start some laundry, sort through the mail, answer the telephone. The
story is never far from my mind, but never making it to words.

This morning I'm finally back at my desk and... okay, I blog.

But I'm about to go back to the story.

Really I am.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Blog or work on a story I started yesterday?

Have only three paragraphs of story and but a vague idea of what it is about


Haven't the slightest idea for a blog entry.

Story wins! I'll stare at it for the next hour or so, after I fetch myself more coffee.

Th-th-th-That's All Folks!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Winter proceeds to approach us on the Oregon coast. I watch the
weather with more than usual trepidation because, Dadgummit, I gotta
get these blogs uploaded every day! Once winter is on its way we can
expect several days per week of blustery, gustery, knee-knocking,
balance-rocking wind - the type that picks up towering Douglas fir
trees and uses them to knit powerlines into cable sweaters for
Brobdingnagians. Those big guys might get a kick out of the potential
macrame but the lack of electricity wrecks havoc with computers and
blogs and all. No affixing the daily note to a passing pigeon or
sending it with smoke signals, even if I had (gasp!) hand scrawled it
on... what is that stuff? Paper?

Normally my computer is turned on 24/7 and sleeps at night. When the
home weather station alarm begins tolling the +45mph song my Mac gets
tucked in, patted on its monitor top, and shut down until Mama Nature
finishes her hissy-fit. She makes a pretty good show of it here. Most
of us cower inside our houses waiting it out, On occasion, when wind
and high tides have her dancing a flamenco in the surf, we venture
forth to marvel at the waves. I prefer the inside, if not the cowering.

This morning she seems to have gotten over the outrage and heel-
clicking of the night. While she takes a breather I'll do the
computer chores and dash out to the local holiday craft bazaar. If
the timing is right I'll be back home to watch the next session from
the window.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Dreams are a wonderful mental playground. I infrequently remember mine because of my apnea, so it is a delight to wake up with one lingering long enough to recall. This morning one was of those lucky times. I'd been dreaming about assembling a mechanical model of a spider, quite large, using an erector set and fuzzy pipe-cleaners. It had a red spot on the belly (I wasn't concerned that it wasn't hour-glass shaped) and I'd planned grouped black shiny beads for compound eyes.

Where in creation did my sleeping mind come up with this? Nothing in the dream could have been prompted by anything in real life, in my reading, or from TV. There was conversation with a friend recently about having wanted an erector set when I was a child, but I'm sure my use would have been more on the traditional make-a-building structure level. So how and why did my unconscious brain fabricate this wondrous concoction from things I know? The artistry of it, pasting together stored snippets from here and there in memory, is amazing.

There is a program coming up on PBS - maybe on Nova? - about dreams. It is something I'll have to watch for current science on the subject.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How old am I?

I seem to have done it again. Made myself a year older with a tap of my fingertip or a slip of my tongue. Despite those mornings I struggle out of bed feeling a hundred-ninety the actual figure is sixty-two. SIXTY-TWO, not sixty-three as I've claimed over and over since March. At my age a woman is expected to claim fewer birthdays, not more. So what is with my recurring claim to that extra year? I wish I knew. As a Freudian slip it isn't major enough to be very revealing. It won't get me perks like a twenty-year old claiming twenty-one. So what gives?

My husband and my friends remind me of the error when I declare myself sixty-three. They gently steer me back to reality. But eventually some age-maintaining topic come up and "Ooooh, shiny!" I'm sixty-three again. If anybody has some insight into a deep spiritual significance, bring it on!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The theme for today is DENTIST. The husband and I have appointments
for the regular tooth cleaning, gum checking, and general dental once-
over. I'm not as skittish about this as some of my friends. Several
ladies dear to me go into major stress-out before a visit to their
dentists even though they will talk at length about the gentle
treatment they receive. Is there anybody who looks forward with joy
to these semiannual calls?

Poor dentists. They are usually very nice folk who are aware of their
reputation and the fear they inspire. It is a wonder people choose to
go into the field knowing they will be a focus of dread and a subject
for humor. How depressing to see patients plod forward as to their
doom or, perhaps worse, put on a bright, brave smile hoping to draw
attention from their quaking knees.

I'm of the bright smile contingent. I chirp and grin. My attitude
oozes sunshine and optimism. This masks the "Please don't hurt this
harmless idiot" within. A good genetic background and a mother who
took her calcium has gifted me with decent teeth that have required
few fillings. At sixty-three I have a single crown. But even genes
and pre-natal care must yield a bit to age and I quake today at
having to point at a tender spot and admit I have an ouchie.

Will it be a filling replacement? Most of mine are way past their
pull-date... no! I didn't mean that! How about "past their
replacement date?" Or, oh dear! The phrase ROOT CANAL comes to mind.
Been there once. Hated it. My usual grin and warble routine may give
way to the shuffle and trudge as the hour for finding out moves closer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still Bloggin' Along

Week three of blog-every-day month. I'm still hanging in with the daily posting and having those mornings when I stare at the blank expanse of white in my word processing program and feel my face blanch to match it. Writers have long dreaded the mind drained of inspiration and it matters not whether the emptiness is on paper or screen. Do you suppose the cave artists ever stared at a wall and just couldn't come up with a horse or gazelle to draw? "Hey Oog, just trace another hand and get it done!" Did the Babylonians panic as the clay tablet dried and their stylus stayed poised but non-impressive?

Back to the blogging thought. I've been engaged in an email discussion about the merits (or non) with a friend from my writing group. He insists that blogging is drivel in no way akin to REAL writing. I defend it as merely a medium for words, no better or worse then any other form of written communication. We've gone our three rounds in civilized fashion with neither party scoring points. At the end of each bout I sit back with a sniff, laying his attitude to advanced age and the onset of decrepitude. He parts with a comment about self-indulgent blather, ruing my waste of time. We remain friends, he the wise and well-published author, me the aspiring author/acolyte.

Perhaps if he did not feel that blogging is "is like casting one's words into an electronic wilderness" he'd be a convert. Like me he is delighted to share his opinions and thoughts with an audience. His experience makes him more cynical over the how and where.

Sorry, dear John, never having much of an audience the possibility of an electronic vacuum doesn't stop me from blogging. I cannot perceive a difference between my words making it to paper, or being collections of little black spots on a screen. Unpublished they remain buried in a notebook. Here at least they have a chance someone will read them. Not YOU, of course!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brain Fitness

After age 30 you lose 10% per decade of brain/memory function.

The Brain Fitness talk I attended yesterday was just what I expected: interesting, informative, and with a moderate dose of "mention my name at (name deleted) website and save 5%". Yes, (name deleted) is a company that markets computer testing and software to exercise those little gray cells. The buy-this aspect was quite toned down from some informational seminars. I do so prefer a soft sell.

If you are of the over-50 generation you've reached the age when memory lapses set off alarms in your head. At 20 they are laughable, at 40 irritating. I'm past 60. Any laughter over forgotten names or facts now is done with a pained wince. Senility and Alzheimer's have assumed a reality among our parents and are creeping toward us with an evil grin. Like a pot-bellied 40 year old with an up-coming high school reunion, we suddenly seek a fix for the sagging flab. Mental exercises? Bring 'em on!

I'm not much of a joiner and unlikely to spend money on a DVD program tailored to my needs by folks I don't know so my attention was the information on neurobic exercises doable for free at home. The rules for those are:

1) Utilize one or more senses

2) Use them in a novel way

3) Engage the attention

4) Add an unexpected element to routine activity

Some examples:

* Use your non-dominant hand for simple tasks, i.e. door opening, drinking your coffee

* Shower with your eyes closed

* Take a different route to a familiar destination

* Connect an aroma with something you want to recall, i.e repeat that telephone number as you smell vanilla or think of a name as you smell sage.

* Turn your desktop picture upside down

There are also the familiar learn a new language, learn a musical instrument, play chess or bridge.

Among my personal (and FREE) strategies are several on-line games I play every morning to flex my mind such as Set game and Free Rice. The first is a shape recognition/grouping exercise, the second is vocabulary testing/building. I avoid Sudoku and certain logic puzzles but the PhD's say if its hard for you it is likely an area you need to work with. Start easy and work your way up.

Off you go. Open that cupboard door with a different hand. Walk around the house a different direction to the garden. Do a crossword puzzle with your left (right?) hand - how about with the paper upside down? Let's get those frontal lobes bulging!

Oops, The importance of physical exercise was mentioned. I forgot.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brain Fitness Seminar

I'm off this morning to attend a Brain Fitness Seminar - a program on Brain Fitness and Vitality. A friend who was planning to attend thought this might be of interest to me... or maybe she thought I was severely in need? The program description says a variety of tips will be offered on how we can challenge our brains to strengthen brain function. Hey, I challenge my brain just figuring out where I left my shoes last night!

More on the program tomorrow, perhaps from my newly flexed and mightier gray cells... or maybe from the same old un-flexed flabby ones.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Mighty Flea

The Flea was created just to see

How miserable she could make me be

This bit of doggerel came to mind in the middle of the night last night as I was lost in a scratching episode trying to scrape the itch off places in my anatomy I haven't been able to reach in years. It was that half-awake state where you haven't assumed enough consciousness to realize that the scratching won't help.

The flea. It probably hitch-hiked in on the cat. She slept all day in the rare Oregon sunshine, nestled into dry grass between the blueberry bushes. The flea probably checked her over, realized she was lethal to bite, and instead climbed aboard for a ride to blood-sucher heaven. That's me.

Mama used to describe the ideal meal for any hemophagic (I don't know if that IS a word but it should mean blood eating!) insect as : Fair, Fat, Female, & Forty. I qualify, and then some. Mosquitoes and fleas are drawn to me like pre-teen girls to the Jonas Brothers. I may be dated in that particular description but you know what I mean.

Said flea, having been given a ride to flea heaven, proceeded to munch its way about my anatomy in typical flea style - at or below the waist, leaving a trail of irritating welts in its wake. Wake is what I eventually did, to twist and turn applying the anti-itch cream I keep in the bedside table. I hope the blasted critter is not now snoozing in my bed and dreaming of another feast tonight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Character Sketch (only SEMI-autobiographical)


When I woke up this morning I was one hundred and ninety years old. One hundred and another ninety just about fits the way I felt when I opened my eyes. Things ached... knees and shoulders, and the sad joints in my fingers and toes. Getting my body out of bed was like trying to get an elephant out of a swimming pool: lots of heaving, grunting, and slipping backward.

Today I'm a hundred-and-ninety, everything hurting and an attitude to match. Today I am crotchety, old and used up, pissy as a cat in a thunderstorm. Maybe it's the change in the weather. Autumn began in a snit and summer backed away in alarm. Usually the rain doesn't start around here until close to December, this being a temperate climate. But wet showed up early in October this year, the trees gave a shudder and hurled their leaves into the cold wind leaving bare branches and a mess on the lawn. That same cold wind has found every crack in the house and shoved its way inside. I won't turn on the radiator yet, can't afford to have the electric bill go up so soon.

I sit on the edge of the bed waiting to decide if I can stand up, if the knees and hips will let me walk the short distance to the bathroom. Every bit of me is sore-tooth painful but sitting here doesn't get the job done. I hitch up the hem of my flannel nightgown and limp to the bathroom glad of the extra layer of old shirt I'd put on during the night, wishing as the cold linoleum curled my toes that I'd added wool socks. I looked in the mirror. Not just a comb and brush look where you see only hair and teeth - a real look. The woman staring back is my grandmother, the same watery blue eyes, wrinkles, jowls with a tired-of-morning frown below. I find myself reading the ingredients on the tube of toothpaste, avoiding the look in those eyes.

Who are you, old woman? When did you climb inside my skin and push the rest of me out? Where is the child who woke full of play, giggling at the sight of a bird on a branch? What happened to the young woman whose heart soared with that bird, who sang with him before breakfast? Or the woman who saw his wings and cried to think of the freedom to fly? The answer comes as a sneer: Your songbird got cooped up, nothing is left but an old turkey too tough for the stew.

Turkeys don't cry so those aren't tears in my mirror. I turn away from those old eyes and start my day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gimme some sun!

Despite many years in California I've never been a sun-worshipper. The perfect tan has eluded me, not because I was aware of the danger of skin cancer, but because laying around outside scantily dressed was uninteresting and could have scared the neighbors. Laying bare many yards of pale skin to Old Sol probably would have made me an Old Soul in record time.

A decade and a half ago my husband and I moved to coastal Oregon. He describes it as having 9 months of wet, nasty weather to balance 3 months of perfect weather. Here we are in mid-Novermber and in half an hour yesterday at dinner-time we had a deluge of almost an inch of rain. And rainy season hasn't really gotten started yet. Both moss and lichen grow on the surface of our car. The cat is developing fins and water-wings.

In the dreary gray months you learn to take advantage of sunshine when it happens. If rays leak from behind a cloud I find myself adjusting to take maximum advantage of the warmth. Unfortunately it doesn't last long enough to roast, toast, or broil me, it just leaves me half-baked.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Love Langlois Library

Our "nearly non-existant" small town (not a town really, more like a collection of houses aspiring to be a village, that earns a slow-down but not not very slow, on the highway) has one of the best libraries a small town could ask for. I'm a fan of libraries in general and of Langlois Library specifically.

The library is our town center, the stop-in place for a good portion of the population. The librarian, Nancy Angelesco, in always helpful and ever cheerful. She tries to greet everyone who walks through the door just to be friendly. Librarians are book enthusiasts and Nancy has an astounding memory for which of her patrons prefers what kind of books and often has a suggestion for what we would like to read. Langlois is a dozen miles from towns north or south so the library has developed a wonderful collection of DVDs. Nancy is always happy to recommend a movie based on what she knows of individual tastes.

Could it get better? It could. With the help of a good library board, active Friends of the Library, and plenty of local volunteers the library presents an amazing variety of special events. Painting classes. Cooking classes. Lectures and music. Poetry and book readings. Movie and game nights. Children's activities. Campfire sing-a-longs. There are functions scheduled to engage many segments of our community.

As an avid reader, I've used the library in every town in which I've lived. When I lived in a multi-town suburban area I'd patronize 3 or more different town libraries. Actually, come to think of it, I do that here too, using libraries in both towns north and south of us. Langlois is smaller than either of those but more active than either. It gets five stars AND a thumbs up review from me!

Monday, November 9, 2009


This "blog something every day" has gone along fine for a week. I had a few topics stored up and pottered along but have come to a time where I sat down to write, looked into my idea locker to find emptiness and a few stray cobwebs. What? My brain is barren? Inspiration imperceptible? Observation out of order? Comments kaput? Oh dear.

Nothing to say? Me? Never hoppened...

When bereft of ideas, Write about being bereft of ideas. Write about shaking my head, hoping to hear a thought rattle. Notice a cramp in my neck as my gray matter splashes around. (Hey, there WAS something in there!) Complain to my husband about not having anything to write about.

Have him offer to "do something cute" upon which I could wryly reflect.

Wince at that and instead, pull, pummel, and stretch my imagination. Lift my spirits and reach for a consensus. Leap to a conclusion.

Get tired from all that exercise and take a nap.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I have an interesting (watch that word!) and lip-smacking recipe for a taste sensation to offer up today. Here is how it came to my attention.

Every year a good friend assembles one ounce packets of fresh spices that she peddles at a local holiday craft fair. She'd brought them to arrange for sale and I was eager to lend a hand hanging small bags of allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and other treats like mulling spices and catnip for the kitty. The room we were in smelled like a delightful bakery and my hands were covered with the spicy scents.

From the spice arranging I went to lunch, an onion bagel, which I slipped into the toaster then realized that hand washing hadn't happened. My hands, redolent of spices, catnip, and onion, then received a scrubbing with lavender handsoap. So this is the recipe I offer for Holiday Onion & Lavender Hands. Take it from me, the combination of smells is not nearly as appetizing as any one of them singly, and if you take a BIG bite you'll be sorry! 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pelicans - Take Tw

We went into Bandon again yesterday and decided to take another look for Pelicans. I'd thought the 150 or so we'd seen the other day was a large gathering? Hah! The large rocks at Coquille Point were frosted with them - hundreds upon hundreds occupying the spaces usually more sparsely topped with gulls and cormorants. Incredible!

We went for another look out by the south jetty but the high tide and the waves coming up the mouth of the river had chased them from the area they'd been in at our last visit. Further exploring revealed them just up river from the boat basin. Our small digital camera couldn't do the panorama of water and birds justice so the above pictures are of a small sample convened in the bay. I haven't seen an estimate of numbers but there must be several thousand in the area.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Have you heard about A Word A Day? I signed up for a daily email to enjoy a chance to revisit words I know, and learn words I don't. Vocabulary provides rich music in my world.

On Wednesday the selected word was "nihilarian". AWAD provides the meaning and pronunciation for the words, in this case (nih-i-LAR-ee-uhn) meaning: one who does useless work.

Lovely word and very useful but upon reading it I found my own definition. Surely it refers to a person who has watched too many re-showings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and experiences hysterical laughter from the knights who say "Ni"?

If you love words as I do, Google AWAD and sign up for Anu Garg's daily offerings. It will give you an opportunity to amuse yourself and amaze your friends.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Birds

Birds were my theme yesterday and birds are the theme today. As I sat
down at my computer for my morning "Facebook-Emmail-Blog Something"
session there came a rat-a-tat-tatting instantly identifiable as a
woodpecker knocking on the side of the house. Our place is wood clad
and that noise calls for instant alert and quick discouragement of
the Flickery source.

I gave an answering rat-a-tat on the inside wall and heard one more
muffled tappa-tap. I knocked louder and presumably the discussion was
over. No sooner am I back at my keyboard then I hear another Tap.
Tap. Tap. This isn't woodpeckerish, yes, one gets an ear for this
sort of thing. The noise is coming from the living room, so with a
sigh I leave the computer room and go to investigate. Through the
window I see a Steller Jay perched outside rapping on the glass. My
response is my best crazy human dance, full booty motion with arms a-

Next up, as I head back toward my desk I catch sight, through the
front windows, of a pair of sparrows bobbing and weaving under the
eaves. They are looking for spiders in the webs attached to the
house. It is at this point that I begin to feel caught in a Daphne du
Maurier short story. Or perhaps I should call it an Alfred Hitchcock

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My husband and I took our lunch of sandwiches and tea out to south jetty in Bandon yesterday. It turned into a bird watching expedition as we watched a group of perhaps 150 brown pelicans who had gathered for R&R just east of the mouth of the Coquille River. Some splashed in the shallows. Others sunned and dozed, perched on a series of pilings at the south side of the water. They are marvelously prehistoric-looking animals and such great fliers. Seeing them sail in from over the open ocean, turn upriver, and slide down to land, is to watch maximum return from minimum expenditure of energy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making Tracks

Out here in the country the "season when things get tracked in from outside" has begun. It starts around the beginning of November and lasts through until the end of October. Our home is located at the end of a dirt and gravel road and is bordered by sheep-filled pasture, overgrown woodlot, shaggy lawn and nearby chicken house, all of which contribute shoe clogging litter that finds its way into the house.

Urban folk may mutter over grass clippings, wet leaves, and the occasional dog poo, but we snort with derision. Let them try to negotiate a sidewalk decorated with dollops (wads?) of sheep poop, or blackberry enhanced wild turkey smears. No street sweeper patrols the road to whisk away damply rotting leaves, so they glue themselves to footwear and accompany us home. Gravel insinuates itself into shoe treads and is abandoned in the carpet to wait for an unwary bare foot. If you have a dog, each trip outside during rain - that's 9 months of the year around here - results in muddy daisy prints on the rug. The cat brings in sticky flower petals or bits of flora from her naps in the shrubbery.

We make efforts to avoid bringing the outside inside. The man of the house was gifted, years ago, with a boot scraper - an apparatus that sits on our front porch like a stiff little shoe-shine kid, brushes poised to scrape off the hitch-hikers clinging to his feet. The accumulation of debris around it testifies to assiduous use... after all, he IS the one doing the household vacuuming so he has an interest in barring the door to the detritus, right? Fageddaboudit. The detritus is sly and stealthy and creeps in on its own volition.

Knowing our lack of sweeping energy and suspecting that life on a farm could be (ahem!) less tidy than was our suburban existence I chose the kitchen tile and living room carpet to harmonize with incoming traffic patterns. Unfortunately, Pebble & Poop isn't one of the patterns offered for sale. Come to my house during tracked-in season and I could show you a design sample!

Monday, November 2, 2009


So yesterday morning my husband walked into the room where I was reading to announce, "You blogged!" It is his cute shorthand way of letting me know he's noticed my most recent posting. He continued yesterday's comment with "Are you participating in NaBloPoMo?"

Huh? NaBloPoMo? My brain frantically spun wheels trying to make sense of the acronym and I recalled my temporary interest last year in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Ah yes, November when writers are encouraged by the internet site ( to write a complete novel in a month. It had seemed like an interesting spur to writing until doing the math told me that I'd need to complete six pages every day to keep up. NaBloPoMo must equate to National Blog Posting Month! I rushed to my computer to google it only to get the fatal Web Acceleration Client Error that enlivens the life of satellite internet users.

Okay, I'll remain ignorant of the source and rules of NaBloPoMo for the time being and make up my own: A blog post a day for the month. Should be doable, right?

Uh, looking at my posting history, maybe reconsidering would be wise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The telephone has become ubiquitous these days a reality that has
left me at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to communication.
I'm just not a telephone person. Of course I have one - half a dozen
actually, from a wired semi-antique to the must-have cell phone. They
are pretty much used for answering and not for originating calls, and
even the answering part is done reluctantly.

My hesitancy regarding phones comes from a mixed bundle of quirks. I
was an extremely self-conscious kid, terrified of seeming dumb and at
a disadvantage. Making phone calls became synonymous with both.
Incoming calls were too often creditors threatening the family over
neglected, unpaid bills. Childhood fears of rejection translated
themselves into painful discomfort if I called a friend at an
inconvenient time. Busy signals, unanswered calls, or worst of all,
misdialed numbers all translated into a black sense of doom. As an
adult I've overcome the worst of my phone fears but still have to
psych myself up to make calls for appointments or to get information
of some kind.

Here I am in a society where people chit-chat on their phones
everywhere and wander about seemingly talking to themselves , with a
Bluetooth grafted to an ear. It seems the more that phones become
standard issue at birth the more I hide from them. The more they
become the main means of socializing, the more isolated I become.