Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009/2010

So here we are with 2009 almost history and a new decade beginning. Scholars are summarizing and sermonizing the oughties whilst pundits make pronouncements and prophecies for the twenty-teens. I really wish they wouldn't bother.

We were here, thank you - at least all of us old enough to listen to the year/decade-end reviews. If I'm so old I can't recall what happened last year there is a darned good chance I don't give a Bleep! As for auguring the future? Conjecture is as often wrong as right, so beyond brain calisthenics it is Ho-Hum.

I won't be awake at midnight and won't watch others celebrate. My guess is that Friday morning will begin just fine without me drinking or partying it in. I will do one thing though. I will wish us all a good year to come - a year with peace (for a change), and comfort, and kindness, one to another.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I've Been Shot.

The husband took me out and had me shot this morning. Can't complain too much. Ever since my knees went wonky the pain has occasionally had me ask him to shoot me. He has, up until now, refused.

You guessed, right? It was a shot for the H1N1 flu.

Flu shots had not been a priority for us in our younger years. I always got the 12 hour yerps when other people had flu and nasty as that is, it is over quickly. The moans and complaints of flu sufferers tended to seem inflated and wimpy. Then two years ago I had my first real bout of flu, with a pneumonia chaser, and after surviving it flu shots seemed a better idea. I became an eager participant.

We had our regular flu shots a couple of months ago. It is somewhat surreal to drive up to a local grocery store and leave with a case of Pepsi, a loaf of bread, and flu vaccine, but that is where the Get-a-Flu-Shot folks set up their wonderfully turnstile operation. When the H1N1 shots became available Hubbie got his but I was busy elsewhere and couldn't go with him. He's been haunting the news ever since, determined that I also get it. And me? Somehow this one didn't seem important.

Husband's hunting of a shot venue yielded results. Today was the day and - I confess a lack of enthusiasm. However, anyone who knows my husband knows that my blasé attitude is no match for his intractable decision.  I go all stubborn to no avail: wife will be shot. He who sleeps late was up, dressed, and ready to cart me into town in plenty of time for the clinic opening. He promised me a restaurant breakfast. He all but slung me over his back and carted me into the building.

The nurse who administered the injection said to go home and rest. I plan to make the best of that suggestion. Call it (minor) revenge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Over the River...

... and through the woods, Grammy toddles forth to visit the
grandchildren. NTG has his 4th birthday this weekend so his
grandfather and I go forth carrying his gift: Tinkertoys! I am
certain he will need some help playing with them and am prepared to
oblige. Tinkertoys are much more in my ability range than the Erector
Set!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Helicoptor


When I was a little girl in the 1950s I always wanted the toys that boys had. Whenever I had a chance my dolls were abandoned and I played with Lincoln Logs, or Tinkertoys. It was a great day when the kid next door got his electric train. When he got bored he'd let me set it up and run the transformer. Ah, the power!


The supreme toy, one few of the boys I knew had, was an erector set. I imagined building skyscrapers with those gleaming girders, but never got the chance. Whenever the subject of childhood toys came up I'd sigh and feel nostalgic for my unappeased mechanical yearnings.


This Christmas my husband bought me the long-desired construction toy. Yesterday I opened the box and was at last able to let loose my inner builder - with mixed emotions the result. After the first twenty minutes I checked the side of the box for the recommended age group. Eight plus? Plus what? Plus a graduate degree in technical engineering? My belief in my abilities toward hand-eye coordination quickly faded, along with my patience. After several near melt-downs the husband offered to sit nearby in case I wanted help. This, of course, made me more determined than before to finish what seemed the simplest project in the booklet: a helicopter.


I won't regale you with the language required to finish my helicopter but I will mention it took me almost six hours. I wonder how long before I have the spirit to disassemble it, or to begin the back-hoe?


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Entertainment?

The husband is a maniac with the programming of our DVR and along with the zillion versions of A Christmas Carol (did you miss the one read by Vincent Price? We didn't.) and Nutcracker (Ballet, yes. Circus, oh no!) he managed several holiday parades.

I'm not a fan of parades on television. Once upon a time one might have seen actual marching bands and floats. These days a televised parade consists primarily of staged singing and dancing interrupted repeatedly by banal talking heads badly reading badly-written scripts laden with bad attempts at humor. Interspersed shots of cheesy floats race by in MTV fashion and more time is given to advertisement than show. It is tooth-decayingly awful.

The Branson Missouri holiday parade was a typical example of the genre. Debbie Boone and Jimmy Osmond were a tad less cloying than some hosts but the bits of actual parade were correspondingly worse. The on-stage entertainment made me glad we live far, far away from this old age home for celebrities.

The coup de gråce to the experience was the stage setting - beside the Branson Titanic Museum. This monument is a half-scale half-ship (a mini-Titanic?) complete with accompanying iceberg. In case having a two-story building shaped like a ship that sank resulting in over 1500 deaths isn't quite in bad enough taste for you, get the Titanic Christmas ornaments. You can do your holiday Titanic shopping online! You can renew your wedding vows on the Grand Staircase! And don't miss the annual Ice Sculpture Competition in January!

I can only judge from the concept and the online site but the entire thing seems very strange. And oh, the possibilities! Is Holocaust-Branson the next coming attraction? Or maybe we'll be treated to Branson 9/11?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recovery Day

How many of us are staggering out of bed, stunned and hung-over from Christmas Day? Alcohol may be quicker, and may make you sicker, but the sweets and food, Food, FOOD of the holiday time can do as much to confound the intestinal tract as a couple of belts of bourbon or a tray of Martinis. At our house there was fudge, and peppermints, and toffee, and chocolate in multiple presentations. There remain, thankfully un-opened, a Whitman's Sampler and a box of Cherry Cordials. Oh, and the leftover fudge, toffee, some nuts, a cheese ball, ham, yams... much like what fills YOUR fridge or still litters the tables if you were too stuffed to tidy up.

How many of us are now shaking our heads (gently) and thinking we will never again over-indulge in such fashion? And how many will realize shortly after the words cross their stupefied minds, that New Year's Eve is bearing down? I feel a bit like the cartoon coyote who just fell off the high cliff, had a boulder bounce off his head, and slowly stands only to notice he is on the tracks with a freight train about to hit.

At least this year I didn't even consider promising myself restraint. All these years of experience haven't granted the wisdom to avoid the excess, but I know enough not to hope for it.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Memory

Christmas morning, and I'm going to blog? Good grief, the internet has hold of me by the throat and won't let go!

Since yesterday's post was about memory, or my lack thereof, today's post is about one of the holiday memories that has lodged in my head. It was a Christmas in the early 1960's sometime. I was high school age or thereabouts but we still played Santa Claus at our house. Oh, Belief had gone long ago, of course, but mother liked the stockings and Santa routine. When I'd suspected it was all a sham she'd carefully explained that children who didn't believe in Santa, didn't get presents from the old fellow.

Hmm, less presents? Like any kid my mantra quickly became "I DO believe in Santa! I Do! I Do! I DO believe in Santa!"

Santa may have quit coming to my friend's homes but for years there were gifts in my stocking, and boxes under the tree labeled: from Santa Claus. I dutifully left out cookies and woke to find them gone. I'd always been told that good children got presents and bad kids got a stick and a piece of coal. No problem there! I knew which list I was on.

I don't recall now whether there was some particular thing I'd done, or not done. It doesn't seem that my behavior was any different than any other year. But that Christmas morning I woke to discover a two foot long piece of tree branch in my sock and a carefully wrapped lump of coal on the hearth. Not a charcoal briquet, oh no! - a real, shiny, foot long chunk of blackness. I have no idea where my mother found coal but she did. Thankfully, after the momentary dismay and eventual laughter, presents were discovered and the memory became a pleasant one I remember with a smile. Of course it might not have happened exactly like this. I fill in where the picture has gone fuzzy. Or maybe I made it all up?

[Talked with husband who recalls my mother giving us coal AFTER we were married. Oh dear, was it a repeat by Mom, or total mis-rememberment by me?]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Childhood Memories

When friends reminisce about their childhoods what are they recalling? Many of my pals talk of events when they were very young, three or four years old. The times may have been bad ones for them but are still remembered with a seeming clarity that I don't share and I am puzzled as to whether my recollection of my early years is poor by comparison, or if theirs is fiction.

I can't peer inside another's head to check out the pictures. It is as impossible to equate quality and quantity of memories as it is to know what another person sees when they see the color red or speak of honor. We share those terms with an understanding that they are the same for each of us, yet within us the experience and definition is different. Just get two people to easily agree on the name for a certain shade of a color, or to define honor. 

To me, memories of my past, especially the ones before high school, seem quite scanty when held up to the lists I hear friends discuss. They hold fabric while I have scraps and shreds, a leftover patch or two. Were mine deliberately forgotten? Discarded as unhappy or unimportant? Were they never collated and tucked into memory files in the first place? Is my brain different than that of these nostalgic friends? Or does it just feel that way?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

C D ZZZZZ?

I'm barely functioning so please excuse any silliness or spelling errors or whatever else might spill out. Went to bed at 10pm, the son-in-law and the four year old grandson arrived at 11pm. Our daughter had called in the morning to say they might show up and asked if they could stay on their way home from CA to Eugene. I got up and chatted with SIL for an hour while he wound down from the caffeine that got him this far north, made them up a bed on the couch, and went back to my own bed around midnight.

I was still awake at 1am, and at 2am and... I think I may have mentioned the joy of insomnia in a past blog? After a lifetime of being able to fall asleep as soon as pillow and head reacquaint themselves each night, that condition has imposed itself into my regime on a regular basis. I have a whole list of tactics to combat it. None of them work. Sleep finally arrived sometime after 3am.

Kitty required accompaniment to the door (past the scary strangers!) at 5:15am - whereupon Sleep huffed somewhat pompously and took off as well. It would have been useful to write since Sleep wasn't anywhere in my immediate vacinity, but on that small amount of shuteye my past-sixty brain is even less creative than usual.

I'm mega-bleary now but...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Weather

Is it because I've lived so much of my life near the Pacific coast that a snowy landscape for the holidays holds no place in my heart? All the cards, the advertisements, the images of a White Christmas, those are not a dream but somewhat of a nightmare. Cold and crunchy isn't the way weather ought to be.

However, I'm not thrilled with the idea of a sun-filled, sparkling and warm holiday panorama either. Christmas in the tropics just seems wrong. I don't want to open gifts or feast on turkey under a palm tree. I'm not sure I want to see the sun at all on Christmas Day so the current predictions of good weather on the 25th here in Langlois? Well, that can't be helped perhaps, but it isn't ideal.

My choice would be a gray and darkish morning. Fog, if possible. If not, a light drizzle would be nice. No major storm need apply, thank you. It doesn't need to be Currier & Ives, or a Weather Channel spectacle. How about simple outside weather served to make the inside lights shine more merry and the glow seem more cozy. Ah well, gifts, and friends, and the seasonal spirit can make it good anywhere, right?

(I'm glad it isn't going to be snow though.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Relping



A few days ago I mentioned my occasional job at Wild Rivers Wool and I thought today I'd show what I did on my day of sitting at the desk tending shop.


These are 100% wool, needle-felted critters. They stand about 5-6" tall. Needle-felting them is a bit like sculpture, a bit like doll-making, and totally addictive.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Towelage (sic)

I'm folding laundry this morning, specifically a large pile of kitchen towels that were washed together after sponging up a humongous amount of water with which I did not intentionally splash, slosh, soak and saturate the bedroom carpet. Not intentionally perhaps, but the carpet did get drenched and the kitchen towels were close to hand in the linen closet.


Do people actually ever buy these items for themselves? My shelves hold a lofty stack, none of which I chose, or that in any way compliment the decor. I take that back. Our house is somewhat heterogeneous in furnishing so perhaps the motley collection of towels is the perfect addition. They are solid in colors of red, green, and blue. Many are white or beige, printed with fruit or flowers. Some are embossed with a texture in the terry cloth, others tie-dyed on plain woven cotton. There are florescent green towels with a Halloween theme, and a set with blue astrological symbols accented in gold. Not one has been purchased by me. They are the all-purpose, don't-know-what-to-get, aren't-these-wierd-but-useful, gift items.


Don't mistake this for a complaint. Kitchen towels get daily use, frequent laundering, and soon wear out or look shabby. A few in my possession barely retain their original decoration. But like most housewives I keep using them because "the fabric is still good."


What I noticed this morning, besides the amazing variety of towels owned, is the labels they carry. Is there a rule somewhere that says that the smaller the towel the larger the label must be? All these super-absorbant drying cloths are studded with non-absorbant satinized labels containing masses of pretty much irrelevant information. I know the name of the manufacturer, the style, where the item was made and what it was made of (including what the label is made from). There are washing instructions and drying instructions - in two languages. Several sets include a website url. And one, just in case I am completely clueless, has a large polyester label announcing KITCHEN TOWEL. Maybe this is to keep me from drying my hair with it? Or using it for a rug?


I've never gotten around to cutting these labels off the towels, probably retaining memories of those Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law labels on beds and pillows. They are sturdily sewn into seams and seem meant to remain, poking out from careful folding under. Surely the Linen Police will swoop down if I approach with scissors in hand. Should I ever run short of reading material they may provide comfort, in English and Spanish.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Job

I worked yesterday, and will work again today, at Wild Rivers Wool Factory in metropolitan Langlois, Oregon. It is a perfect job for me. 

The job pays nothing, I'm doing it as a favor for friends, so I get appreciation and don't have to worry about getting a raise or being fired. The friends run the shop so my task is just to fill in on days they aren't available. Those days are infrequent so I only have to slave in the wool mines once-in-a-while. Best of all, I'm the boss of me on those days.

It gets better. Most of my time is spent sitting at a desk, listening to music, and relping. Followers of this blog know that relping = fiber play = sew/crochet/knit/felt, etc.  In between my heavy labor of crochet and felting, customers wander in and I get to chat, mostly with tourists driving the highway north to Portland or south to California. Chocolate whipped-cream frosting on my Devil's Food Cake! Meeting and greeting interesting people and having them buy items I may have made - or at least items made by women I know- we're talking sublime entertainment!

The only way this job could improve is to get a wage, but then I'd have to pay taxes, and keep track of hours, and... it begins to sound like work.

If you drive through the conurbation of Langlois/Sixes/Denmark stop into the shop. If I'm not there (most likely) have a cup of tea with Sandie or Cindy, the owners. And don't miss going across the street for a hot-dog at Langlois Market. Tell Lee I sent you!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Postscript to Gift Wrapping

It was all done. I'd papered and taped. I'd ribboned and labeled. It
was time to put all the furbelows away for the year. And then...

The internet happened.

I'm not tempted to shop in stores. We live 13 miles from town, 45
minutes from a town of any size, 3-1/2 hours from a city, and even if
we were closer my knees are painful enough that the standing and
walking of shopping isn't enticing.

But online shopping? Oh dear. I know I shouldn't, but it is hard to
resist and I managed to rationalize the expense. And I ordered more
stuff.

Now I wait for delivery. And more wrapping to do. The wrapping
whatsis stays on the table until further notice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Decorating?

We haven't done any holiday decorating yet. Well, that isn't quite true. Himself fetched the star of sparkly colored lights from the attic at the beginning of the month and put it in the living room window. I turn on the lights on the really drab rainy days or as soon as the sun begins to set if the day is less dark.  

My enthusiasm for holiday decoration began to wane shortly after my daughter left home. Santa, trees, lights, gingerbread houses - the trappings of Christmas - are for children and for folks with enough energy to do all the work involved. It seemed that as Christmas became a commercial enterprise that started in October I drew back, trying to feel it inward rather than display it outward. Retirement sped the process. Giving presents, always the largest part of the joy, became limited financially. Thwarted in buying, too overwhelmed to sew and craft, I felt quite Grinch-like.

Himself did not have a lot of the traditions of Christmas when he grew up and I was never quite sure he was thrilled about the Santa collection that covered our fireplace mantle, the Santa's workshop display that took over the top of the piano, or the holiday banners that sprouted on the wall every December. But his Scrooge exterior has a marshmallow inner-core of sentiment. The year I couldn't summon interest in a single bit of decorating, it was he who fetched in the evergreen boughs we use in place of a tree. Hhe hung them with small ornaments and displayed the greeting cards in the window that year.

This season I'll join in the small festivities we enjoy. The fir branches will come into the house this weekend. The cards that have arrived already grace the window. We'll have fruitcake Christmas Eve, and presents, just a few, on Christmas morning. I'm already listening to "Jingle Bell Rock" on the CD player and will work up to the 20 or more versions of "Silent Night" himself has collected. One by one I'll add Ho-Ho's to my attitude and celebrate the season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

40th Anniversary

Thank you all for your congratulations and good wishes. We appreciate
the thoughts. Does anyone know the symbol for forty years? Himself
said it was ruby or garnet. I told a friend yesterday that I thought
it was our Sawdust Anniversary but after some discussion Himself and
I settled on either Mildew or Gravel.

If it has to be red we thought perhaps, Chianti? But neither one of
us was sure the other wouldn't serve it up with a nice plate of fava
beans.

It hasn't always been easy and I can't help wondering, just a little,
if couples in today's world of quick gratification might be losing
the ability to stick it out. But perhaps that is the old and fussy
lady in me grousing about "In MY day..."?
For those of you married and tending to the work involved: Cheers and
Good Luck! We know the labor involved and the rewards it brings.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today marks forty years of marriage for my husband and me. Four
decades of living together, not without its bumps but in general a
pretty decent tour of duty. No one who knew us in the beginning would
have figured us for making it this far. I'm not sure I understand how
we've done it. We smile and respond with vague statement about "lack
of initiative" when asked why we've never broken up.

He lets me think I run the show, but I know better. He puts me first
so often that I struggle to return the favor. We seem to have
complimentary strengths and weaknesses as people. We share and we
compromise.

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. Here's hoping we make it to fifty!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Everything is new again

Yesterday afternoon as I stood in the shower, I planned my blog for
today. Showers are a great place to think. Is it the running water or
just the automatic work involved with washing oneself that frees the
mind? In winter I save my showering for early afternoons - just the
time of day I get the most chilled. Standing in the warm steamy
wetness is a luxurious pleasure at that time of day, one of the perks
of being retired. I'm not at a desk or toiling in the outside! I'm
naked and warm. Hurrah!

So my mind gets churning with the soap bubbles and I'm musing about
friendship and overflowing with warmth and goodwill. My ideas get
organized enough that when I am toweled and dressed, toasty from top
to bottom (the bottom being extra important!) I settle down at the
keyboard and write a glowing thank you to my women friends and save
it to my desktop ready to be uploaded today.

In the middle of the night I woke up and began to feel that what I'd
written was familiar. The thought didn't keep me awake long, thank
goodness, but it returned this morning. Surely that had been the
theme of a Mother's Day blog this year? And maybe last year too?

One of the side affects of living past middle age is repeating
oneself. I hear myself telling the same stories to folks. The same
opinions get verbalized - anew. I hope that the stories are well told
after all the practice. I certainly hope the ideas have developed,
integrated, and evolved with added years and knowledge.

The blog, all edited, has disappeared with a push on the delete key.
Mother's Day will come around in May and once more I'll praise the
women in my life. They'll smile and think, "Oh dear, there she goes
again!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wrapping (again)


I was feeling quite smug and accomplished after getting a bunch of wrapping done yesterday. It didn't last long. Once my eyes were opened (2 huge mugs of hot java required for that task) this morning I remembered an equal bunch that are tucked away still awaiting the paper and tape routine.


More carols on the CD player to encourage seasonal spirit. More creasing, folding, tying, labeling. Ho! Ho! Ho! The joke is on me as the smug face fades into concentration? Any more long-agp purchased or crafted goodies hidden?


Another step in turning into my mother. It happens to so many women. My mother was often the recipient of family giggles when she'd discover a present she'd bought in April, misplaced or forgotten in December, and discovered sometime the following February. We never were quite sure when an errant Christmas present was likely to arrive.


Hey Mom! Me too!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wrapping Day

It is my firm intention to wrangle the tools of the season - tape, scissors, paper, ribbon, tags and such - and wrap the family gifts today. Shopping, mostly for the grandkids, is done. I have the urge to organize, label, and assemble.

My husband will wait until Christmas Eve. I carefully crease, fold, and tape. He is more the crumple sort and as likely to duct tape and brown paper his things. There WAS one year before we were married when he plunked down a single large box before me. Out of it came an electric cord. I unwrapped the box to find a gift... and another wrapped box that the electric cord led into. That box unwrapped to reveal, yup - another gift and another wrapped box with that same cord. I've forgotten how many layers it totaled with the cord snaking through each one. In the center the cord was attached to a small plastic box he'd stuffed with several colored Christmas lights that blinked randomly. I loved my lights, still have them, AND they still work, over 40 years later.

My wrapping will be tidy and neat. It will be well taped and clearly labeled. But it will never equal the wonder and joy of that quirky gift from way-back-when.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cynical or Sentimental?

The coming holiday brings a rush of emotion into people. The usual email pass-arounds begin like a snow flurry and build to a true seasonal blizzard. Have you noticed the polarization as I have? We send along the satirical or miserable - stories of gift theft, pictures of naked Santas; or we send mushy poetry and tear-evoking chain letters.


I'm more likely to be among the former category, it's true. My sentimental side is strong but it is easier to share the cynical somehow. Is that because it seems less forced, more real to me? Perhaps it is.


Christmas is a difficult time to parse out. The mixture of Christian and pagan symbolism is confusing enough. What do snow and Santa have to do with a godling born 2000 years ago? And the sudden reversion to "love and light" in a world so filled with everything but? What good the cheer and goodwill on one day when the folks expressing it are spending the days before and after it breaking laws, cheating, filling themselves with eye-for-an-eye rather than charity and blessing?


My holiday time wobbles me back and forth from cynical to sentimental. Perhaps that is why I indulge in my marathon of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge's tale reminds me to un-Grinch a little more. I'll try hard to give a well-needed shove to sentiment and allow the love that surrounds me in life flow through, back to where it came as well as outward to the world. It can't hurt.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is it summer yet?

With the recent "colder than usual for this time of year" here in coastal Oregon, I'm reminded of just how little I like winter. The cold season is just, well... COLD, and there is nothing wonderful about it. I suppose it makes lovely scenery but only when viewed from afar, like gazing at white-capped mountains from a lush, warm valley.


People actually like this season, everyone of them certifiable, I'm sure. They purchase expensive thermal everything to wear and buy expensive toys so they can go outside in (shudder) SNOW to frolic. This is simply not a mentally-balanced thing to do.


But what can I say? I somehow blanked out the subject of cold and retired northward from California to Oregon when I should have slid south to Arizona.


My husband just checked the outside temperature and told me it was 24 F. "Do we assume anything under freezing is cold" he asked?


I assume anything under 60F. is cold! Of course yesterday at this time it was 19F. so perhaps we are having a heat wave.


(By the way, the smart-aleck just chirped "It's not even winter yet!" I may let him live.)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trivia

A couple of things I learned (or relearned) in the past 24 hours:


1. I feel warmer if my hands are warm. (I guess this means doing dishes 20 times a day in winter?)


2. There are too many television interpretations of Dicken's A Christmas Carol. (Most just plain BAD)


3. I like the Bolshoi Ballet version of Nutcracker the best. (Okay, I'm all traditional, but I liked Mike Morris' version too!)


4. Little yellow cats aren't very smart. (No, I won't elucidate but she is lucky she is cute.)


5. Cold, a stubborn kitty, and bad holiday TV, can stimulate creative epithets from an irritable over-sixty woman.


And now (sigh) a return to our holiday spirits?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To the River


On Mondays, after my morning writers group meeting, my husband and I will often get lunch and go to the south jetty in Bandon to eat and watch the Coquille River as it empties into the ocean. The river changes its color and mood. Some days it is green and sullen looking. After a heavy winter rain it can be cocoa brown with silt and dotted with logs floating from upstream to become beach driftwood. Yesterday is was glorious royal blue, reflecting the clear sky above.


We're not the only creatures lunching here. Crabs and fish hidden under the water bring scads of birds and I sit, sandwich in one hand, binoculars in the other.


Gulls, crows, and blackbirds perch near with eyes fixed, hoping for a handout. Brown pelicans sail past barely stirring their wings to maneuver the river curves. A heron settles near the bank to stand, statue still, and watch the water for a meal. Nearby a kingfisher uses a different technique. He hovers high above to spy his dinner, then plunges headfirst into the water just beyond the rocks. He must have missed because I see him moments later, repeating his hover and dive in the shallows upstream.


In the river itself surf scoters with brilliant orange beaks float on the current. A bufflehead duck and, further off a loon in drab winter plumage are there, then gone, then back again in view, diving beneath the incoming ocean waves where those dwindle against the river flow. A harbor seal does a similar hide and seek, poking his head up to gaze around then sliding down to swim away.


Lunch is consumed. Husband and I head for home. We'll be back next week where I'll marvel and watch, feeling so lucky for the opportunity to be here in Oregon.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Arboreal Sheep?


Maybe the Python guys had it right about finding sheep in trees? This one was doing its best. I wonder if mutton benefits from the pine-needle stuffing?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Number One Guy!


The Matawheeze award for best husband of the year goes to:


My man. (of course!)


He is patient with me, takes the best care of me, is my best friend, chief computer geek, terrific chauffeur and so much more. Here's a "for instance":


I have had this humongous stack of cassette tapes gathering dust on a shelf. Many held songs or compilations that had special meaning for me but we don't have a cassette player accessible anymore. I wasn't ready to toss them out, but hadn't listened to them in quite some time. My hero is copying them to CD for me, a hassle since it involves a certain amount of attention, tape-turning, and equipment cable-crossing. Hubbie is ever so good at this sort of thing and I am ever so appreciative.


You da man, honey!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another meeting

We were standing side by side staring glassy-eyed at the long aisle of Christmas kitsch in the drug store. Plastic holly, plastic tinsel, plastic poinsettias, plastic nativity sets.


She sighed as she turned toward me and said, "I hate Christmas. It is depressing and phony. Where is the spirit in this?"


"This isn't the spirit, that's inside you somewhere. This can be the fun on top, or not. But the holiday is what you choose for it to be, isn't it?"


As I said it I realized how true for me as well. The plastic and the glitz get in between me and the meaning. Perhaps this year I can smile at the trinkets and remember to FEEL love in my heart. I'm not a Christian, but the symbol is nevertheless valid.


Friday, December 4, 2009

A meeting

Two older women standing in the toy aisle of a store, lists in hand, eyes scanning the shelves. Our eyes meet. She shakes her head and mutters. I smile and say "Grandkids?" She smiles back and says "Boys, two and six."


"Hard to decide isn't it?" I say, staring back at the stacks of boxes. "I don't get to see them much," she says, "I don't know what they'd like. I had a girl." "Me too."


We joined together, just for a few minutes, comparing ideas and empathizing. She chose Matchbox cars and decided to add a gift card so Mom could choose what the boys might like. I complimented her on a wise resolution. A moment of holiday sharing, lightening the chores just a little.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The bells!

Giving to others is a wonderful thing. I learned quite young that it was almost as much fun to give as to receive. Almost... let's be honest, getting is pretty nifty too!


Over the years I've donated money to Habitat for Humanity, the ACLU, the local animal shelter, KIVA, Planned Parenthood, the Red Cross, various woman's groups, food banks, etc. but for some reason it has always been difficult for me to hand over money when directly approached. From panhandlers on the street to tables in front of the grocery store where girl scouts waylay customers, I avert my eyes and scuttle past in trepidation. It feels as if I have no choice over the giving. Something inside me fears public exposure and censure if I don't contribute. My response is gritted teeth, and a tighter clutch on my purse. I tighten up and refuse to cooperate.


Walking past the seasonal Ding-a-lings has always been tough. I hear those bells, spot the Salvation Army red pots in front of a store, and I'm ready to turn around to go somewhere else. It won't seem like much to those who don't have the same reaction, but this year I dug into my wallet, stopped at the red tripod, and added my dollar to the pot. Mitzvah on both sides?


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Catching Smiles


Yesterday was our BIG DAY OF HOLIDAY SHOPPING. Husband and I trekked northward to THE BIG CITY (pop: -17,000) to buy present for the grandkids. I'm not terribly mobile these days. Arthritis and being a (ahem!) full-bodied woman have joined with the Sixty Up to render my knees in a state that makes walking UNenjoyable. My shopping experiences tend to be on-line, but getting out into a large department store allows me to participate in one of my favorite sports: Smile Catching.

Take a look at the faces around you. Most people scurry through the world with a scowl. Frowns abound. Glowers and glares wrinkle brows. Sneers pucker lips. Judging by the faces we wear life is not happy. And what do those faces get but a mirrored return?

My game is simple. Find a place where those faces gather and see how many can be turned into smiles. The only equipment required is a smile of my own.

The playing field I chose was a bench just beyond the registers in Major department store. While husband finished the marathon walk required for those last few items on our list, I smiled. I beamed. I grinned and displayed my dimples.

The capture rate was pretty good - 31 smiles in just a few minutes. I also garnered one pleasant conversation, a wave, and a delighted toddler who hollered "Hi!" Women's smiles seemed easier to catch than men, (goodness, did they think I was flirting?), teens seemed less inclined to either meet my eyes or smile.

Try the game sometime, maybe the next time you're out and realize your face has sagged into a sad or angry expression. Take a moment to rearrange your visage and upgrade the energy around you. And hey, let me know how many smiles you catch!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Starting December


I was pretty sure that once the goal of blog-every-day for November had been met I'd collapse in a corner and avoid posting for, well, not forever. There are opinions to share and ideas to mete out. Wisdom to dispense (with?)...


But surely an immediate few days off would happen? Instead I woke in the middle of the night thinking of stuff to write and I created a zippy entry - totally gone like all those nightly dreams that POOF! when morning intrudes. It seems though that after 30 continuous days a habit has developed and here I am typing with intent to blog. (Is that a criminal act?)


NaBloPoMo is every month, not just November. The home site even suggests a monthly topic. For December the theme is Mitzvah: "to give something, to someone, every day of the month, and then blog about it. The goal is to act with kindness..."


While I doubt my ability to post a mitzvah each and every day it will be my goal to keep the idea in my consciousness. Perhaps it will become habit as well?


My small first step is to let my husband sleep in later this morning than I'd like. He's night guy, I'm morning gal. I want to go to town and do holiday shopping. Early. But I'll wait until later.