Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last gasp?


Last gasp of this month anyway. I've managed to write something every gol-derned day for 3 months just to prove to myself that I could. Perhaps we can all understand now why so much gets written (and published) that is drivel. Not that I couldn't write sporadic drivel, intermittent drivel, spasmodic, episodic, and somewhat random drivel. Have done, will undoubtedly do again. The requirement to produce helps the process along though, rather in the manner of writing book sequels, newspaper articles, and reality TV show scripts.


Having achieved my goal of one entire month - three times over - my choice is to return to irregular postings prompted more by inability to shut up than by commitment to speak. So look forward to me sputtering in anger, exclaiming in frustration, and gulping in awe - but probably not every single day.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warning: Whining!


Oh, for the days when waking up in the morning meant feeling refreshed, full of energy, and ready to face a new day. That doesn't happen anymore. Chronic pain has a way of creating mornings where the day is approached with caution.


One eye opens to verify that it is light out and so night must be over. Already my mind is assessing whether waking is welcome. Today? - not so much. Back is twisted to reduce stress on the achy knees, twisted spine makes the shoulders hurt. Sinuses are clogged so there is a headache. I'm reminded of the scene in the first Indiana Jones movie: "Where doesn't it hurt?"


Evaluation complete the question to be faced is whether it hurts more to stay in bed, or to get up and begin the day. I'm at the stage where remaining in bed is less appealing. I may be warm and drowsy, but not groggy enough to overcome the pain and go back to sleep. It is better to stumble forth, administer the first medication of the day plus MSM, and locate the caffeine. Once my brain is sufficiently awake the joint complaints dull to discomfort behind the other things that daytime brings.


So, I'm awake, out of bed, neither refreshed nor energetic, but ready to discover what January 30, 2010 has in it. Now that my whining is through I'll smile, shake my head at myself, and get through another day. (Sometimes it just helps to complain a little)


Friday, January 29, 2010

How much do we need?


A friend sent me one of those going-around-the-internet humor pieces today containing photographs of a variety of celebrity homes. The humor was somewhat lame, easy to ignore, but the houses were remarkable, prompting several questions.

1) Do these people judge their success by the size of their homes?

2) How many rooms can one person occupy?

3) Does having money somehow disengage someone's brain?

The mansions represented are so big it seems that the owners would wander for weeks at a time, lost in their own homes. They simply can't be spending time in even a small percentage of those dozens of rooms. Maybe there is a formula for calculating how many walled off spaces are required to indicate popularity and bank account? One would have to figure in pool size, cars, and planes as well as tennis court acreage.

Perhaps the larger estates are needed because the celebrity travels, thus a huge live-in staff is required to maintain the home the celebrity is not living in but requires to indicate his or her status?

Okay, I confess if money dripped from the sky my choice would be to have a couple of more rooms on my house, principally a guest room suitable for family and friends who visit. A playroom for the grandkids would also be nice. But a habitat that could accommodate an entire third world nation? Oprah, J-Lo, Eddie Murphy, c'mon now!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heliolatry

I love my daily email from A Word A Day . Sometimes the word is so appropriate to what is going on in my life. Today the entry was "heliolatry" - worship of the sun. Since coming to Oregon, around the time I realized I needed gills and webbed feet - webbed feet with sucker toes that let one cling to the landscape in gale force wind - heliolatry became at least a seasonal practice.

We Northwetters watch for old Sol with an eager eye. When the dude manages to claw his way through the cloud cover we squint in happy amazement and dash out to expose whatever bits of skin we can. You will find coastal residents in shorts and sleeveless shirts in mid-January. They may shiver but they are prepared to soak up every available beam, sifting it for smiles and vitamin D.

Traditional sun-worshippers are thought to live in the tropics but don't believe it. Those folks are to familiar with sunshine to value it in seemly fashion. It takes the deprived to bow in humble gratitude, to idolize, exalt, and adore.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time

However did I imagine that retirement would give me time for all those things I wanted to do but didn't have time to do when I was younger? In the fantasy I had days in which to make dolls. I'd spend hours writing poetry, maybe start a novel. I'd take up quilting, learn to tat, maybe learn another language.

Exactly what hours did I expect to have for all these things? And where was the energy supposed to come from? No dolls, no Spanish. No novel, or quilting. A poem or two, a few short stories. Needle-felting. But not in the amounts and certainly not with all the extra time there was to be. Home, laundry, meals still steal hours. I spend more time connecting with friends who no longer live around the corner. And as for the energy? All gone... poof!

Speaking of which, while I have a bit, it is time for me to use it for those things retirement did provide: volunteering at the library, making woolly things to sell, writing my blog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Soundtracks: Music Without Borders

Lots of us don't know there is music anywhere but in the USA, and maybe in Britain if you where in high school in the 1960s. We listen to local radio stations and hear whatever is popular in our own culture. But there is an entire world of terrific music to tempt the ears.


My music listening broadened somewhat in the early 1970s when I discovered The Chieftains and Celtic music. A couple of decades later I heard Cuban music, son and latin salsa got added to my music mix. World Link television brought in music from Cape Verde, Brazil, and India plus all varieties of Afrobeat plus the amazing mix of Hip-Hop/Rap and all the music genres it penetrated from Germany and France, to Turkmenistan and Japan.


Last night PBS provided a new window to world music in the first show of a series called Soundtracks: Music Without Borders. In a sort of 60 minutes inspired format the show presented three different interesting and informative stories from around the world, in this case Russia, Nigeria, and Kazakhstan, along with a performance from Mariza, a world-famous singer of fado from Portugal.


I'm looking forward to the next show. Check out the series at:


http://www.pbs.org/soundtracks/about/index.php


Monday, January 25, 2010

Words are not enough.

Himself and I enjoy watching the gulls ride the river toward the ocean. Every Monday we take our fast food lunch, today it was a sandwich and ice tea from Subway, and sit in the car at the south jetty in Bandon. As we pull to a stop our eyes scan the river.


The river color can vary from the reflected blue of a sunny sky, through a deep water green, but this time of year is often some shade of cocoa or coffee plus cream brown as the run-off from upstream churns the currents. If there has been a major storm the water is punctuated by debris from the east, logs from a clear-cut or stumps from a bank that collapsed, sometimes entire trees on the way to becoming ocean driftwood.


We look to the gulls to tell us about the tide. It is easy to see the height of the water against the north jetty but much more fun to judge it from the speed of the gulls floating by. If they zoom toward the river mouth, the tide is outward. If the trip is slow, the tide is turning. When they are able to stay pretty much in place we know the ocean is pushing but the river is pushing back, water versus water.


The colors today were subtle, nearly monochromatic. The sky, gray with clouds, misted and mixed with incoming fog, both shaded against a dark gray ocean and a light tan river. At moments it was hard to tell sky from wave, or ocean surf from river surge. Even the birds kept the color scheme with gulls gray and a lone pelican in beige. An artist's hand would have had to accent the tones to pull detail from the background.


Sunday, January 24, 2010




The rain came back, as expected. That makes the sunshine yesterday even more precious. We didn't do the whale watching, or gaze at the ocean - and I didn't have clam chowder for lunch. Our day was terrific nevertheless.


Our choices when we wander are north, south, and east. West gets us a bit wetter than this Oregonian likes, the Pacific being salty, cold, and quickly drenching despite yesterday's sun. We went east, to meander along the river to Coquille. At this time of year the river floods the low pastures leaving them cross-fenced for the ducks. An amazing number of waterfowl take advantage of the wintertime shallow lakes. So many areas would have built levees, trying to tame the river and hold on to that pastureland year round. It is wonderful to see instead the natural rhythm of the river, flooding and providing winter shelter to the geese, egrets, ducks, and herons.


The colors of green astound me. There are myriad shades from dark to light. There will soon be even more as the new greens of spring show themselves. They reflect in the water and contrast with the blue of the sky. Today they will be darker and dimmer, but yesterday they sparkled like jewels.


Today, with the return of the rain, I'll stay inside with my relping, enjoy some Mozart with my morning coffee, and remember the color green.


Saturday, January 23, 2010


Look at that weather forecast.


I am feeling no loyalty to you, faithful readers, nor should you be feeling any for me. THE SUN IS OUT! I'm about to wake Himself whereupon we shall venture forth to sample the glory and splendor of the Pacific coastline on a sunny winter day. With luck we will eat fresh seafood or some lovely hot clam chowder. I will look for whales. We'll say pleasant things to the tough little daffodils poking up through the earth. We shall soak up the vitamin D and prepare ourselves mentally to persevere through the next series of storms.


If there is sun where you are, get away from the computer, go outside and tell the universe how lovely she is.


See you later!



Friday, January 22, 2010

The Spoon


It was one of those chats you get into - you know the ones. You're standing in line at a check-out counter, or filling the car with gas, or waiting for a bus. The person beside you makes eye contact and soon you two are engaged in conversation. Politics, the weather, kids. Topics vary.


So this one evolved into having a favorite whatever, and how irritating to have that whatever wear out/break/get lost and not be able to find a suitable replacement. She mentioned shoes, I countered with glasses. She hates choosing a new car. I detest having to buy a new purse. We agreed that we were neither of us the types to move furniture or paint walls a different color. And I told her about my spoon.


My spoon. It is my ultimate kitchen utensil, the perfect tool for the way I cook. Can't recall when or where it was purchased. It seems like it has always been here. It is hard plastic and shaped mostly like a large mixing spoon but also somewhat like a spatula. It is ideal for scooping, stirring, and scraping, won't scratch teflon, doesn't bend, fold, staple, or mutilate. I love the darned thing. And it is wearing out.


Wearing out? When I saw the first signs I began looking for another one. I alerted friends, described its wonders, and asked them to keep an eye out. I scanned the kitchen departments in stores. So far there have been no satisfying results. Mixing spoons are too spoonish, spatulas remain flat and my Spoonula? Spatoon? Spoonispatula? It seems to be one-of-a-kind.


My lips curls in a pout and I want to stomp my feet in a major hissy-fit. Don't want some other spoon, want one EXACTLY like this one, only new. Bless those pals who have tried to locate a substitute. The efforts are appreciated. If I ever find THE SPOON? I'm buying half a dozen, maybe more.


Thursday, January 21, 2010


Just as I thought. There are a couple of pieces missing in my head this morning. I suppose that's what I get for sleeping on my left side. My brain leaked. Please excuse me while I try to find a tool for connecting the parts back into some sort of working order.

In the meantime, for your edification, the following quote:

I don't necessarily agree with everything I say. -Marshall McLuhan,
cultural historian and communications theorist (1911-1980)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Earth Hour 2010


Earth Hour 2010 will take place Saturday, March 27, at 8:30 pm. Please join millions of people around the world in turning off the lights for Earth Hour to raise awareness and demand action to fight climate change.

I won't be needing lights since March 27th is my birthday. The glow of candles on my cake should be enough to illuminate a goodly portion of the western hemisphere!

http://www.myearthhour.org

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I've lived here on the Oregon coast for fifteen years and the storms continue to amaze me. They seldom attain hurricane status but what they lack in that level of intensity they make up in tenacity and repetitiveness.

The storms here don't skip a decade, or a year, or even a month in winter. They line up across the Pacific and march in wave, after wave. The intervals between can span a week, but more often will be a couple of days, or like the current series, will provide a few hours of misty, breezy respite before gathering to hurl themselves back at us with gusto. Our TV weather prognosticators work to discover new ways to break the news: no less than 80% chance of rain any day for the next week.

At home we judge the rain by standards acquired over the time we've lived here. If we need to leave the shelter of the porch the sky to the south gets scanned. If those clouds are dark the deluge is only moments away. We keep an eye on the creek that crosses the field. A "decent" day of rain will back it up into the meadow. If the rain is "getting good" the drainage creeklet in the pasture behind us overflows to create a shallow body of water we call Lake Louise. The broader Lake Louise gets, the more our driveway resembles a small river, and the more I find myself praying for sunshine.

Vertical rain is a rarity. We coastal folk do not take note of rain unless it varies from the 45 degree or better variety. Rain and wind go together like the cream filling goes with an Oreo. We know where to look for our belongings after a winter storm. Head north!

I profess that the storms are invigorating. The blowing and the torrents are exciting. The rain prodigious and the wind staggering. They make me SO look forward to spring!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Losing touch

Tomorrow is the birthday of someone who has been a friend of mine since we two were in high school, back in the last century. I was a senior and she a freshman and we met when she dated a friend of mine. Kat and I stayed in touch over the years. She married and spent time in Japan where her daughter was born. I married, had a daughter, and stayed in the area where we'd gone to school.

We had several years in that area when she and her husband came back to the US. We'd visit weekly, have lunch, and talk as our daughters played together. When her husband moved them to northern Alaska we kept in touch through voluminous letters, doing our best to share lives that were both parallel and deeply differing. I glimpsed adventure and self-reliance in her life. She found reassurance in my tales of raising my daughter.

Eventually she divorced and left the backwoods. She remarried and made herself a life as an elementary school teacher in a large Alaska town. I came late to a full-time job and retired to live on a small farm in Oregon. And now, after knowing each other almost 47 years, we're losing touch. We have the heart-tie of all the years we've had but no longer share the "who we are" of life. Our interaction has become the holiday card, or the occasional e-mail (me) or phone call (her).

I think of her. I'm saddened at my loss. She is a wonderful, creative, and private woman who enriched my life for many years. The bond we made still lives, but ever paler.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Off the Wall?

Sometimes, well okay - a lot of the time, the strange and odd minds in our world delight me. I'm sharing one of those minds with you today, appropriately on a Sunday. Take the time to introduce yourself to the warped and ditsy world of Bishop Gerald Higgins of the Third Ward, Provo Utah.

http://bishophiggins.blogspot.com/

Interesting how two of the funniest blogs I read have their roots in Mormon country. Is there something in the Utah water?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Miscellaneous

Catching up this morning on a number of blogs I read - the following thoughts danced through my head:


1) How can a gourmet own a jar of Skippy peanut butter?


2) Religion is a tough subject to discuss. I think I'll avoid it - for now.


3) What happened in Haiti is beyond my comprehension.


4) There are too many blogs I want to read. If I read all of them I don't write.


5) I totally love dooce's dog, Chuck.


6) I should be doing my dishes.


7) Like who cares about Leno, Conan, (fill in celeb name here... like Maguire, for instance)


8) What am I going to cook for dinner tonight?


And with that blinding series of deep intellectual conceptualizing it seems time for me to be off to do something more useful, like laundry. My days for trying to be wise and deep of contemplation have passed. My meditative manners probably left when my belly-button was removed during abdominal surgery many years ago. The big issues seem pointless to argue, the small ones superficial... but more provoking in the daily scheme of things. High-Ho, and off I go!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A (mighty) Wind?


Twenty to thirty mile per hour winds outside this morning - what we along the southern Oregon coast call "a bit breezy." The birds around here have to be mighty of wing. The small finches and sparrows have a heck of a job maneuvering into the headwind to light in the feeder. Larger soaring birds find they have the ability to hover in one place, stalled facing into the cliffside winds.


I smile thinking of my California friends who would think today is fierce. Sunday/Monday is supposed to be what we consider windy. Instead of the small branch tips littering the lawn we will watch for big branches and entire trees. We can't claim hurricanes but an average winter rainstorm provides gale force winds with hurricane force gusts that can knock over a truck. That is the sort due here in a couple of days.


Preparing for the storm means checking to see what is in the yard that we don't want to sail to Portland. Check for candles and firewood in case the electricity goes out, See that the batteries in the scanner radio are in good shape. Then we hunker down, hold on, and see what happens.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Four Shillings Short


Our local libraries (Langlois & Port Orford) just gifted the community with a free concert of music by Four Shillings Short. It is a marvelous treat to see a live music performance in a small town. Aodh Og and Christy are accomplished on an amazing variety of instruments so their music choices are always a fun surprise. They travel constantly, modern troubadours with a love of playing and singing that they want to share everywhere.


If you ever have a chance to see them, take it! You will love them as I do. If you enjoy folk music check out their website at: http://www.art.net/4ss


And no matter where you are, take the time to listen to and support your local musicians. Music is one of the things that is most human. It is an art that brings people together beyond language and culture. We need more of it in our troubled world.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rain, rain rain!

If practice makes perfect, coastal Oregon is consummate at producing rain. A regular moist day can give an inch of precipitation without much effort, and without us noticing that it is much more than heavy mist. Last night was a good example of what we amphibioregoneons call "real rain". It pelted down in large noisy drops, assaulting the windows, and pounding on the south side of our house - the bedroom side. The storm provided over 3.5 inches of wetness.

The first year or two we were here I was totally unnerved by the violence of rain and wind in combination. I'd sit and stare at the windows flexing in their frames, feeling as if the house was under aerial bombardment. Sleep was difficult with the constant smack and splatter sound punctuated by the whoomp! as gusts of wind pummeled the siding and whined through cracks and pipes. The storms seemed to have a personality that was angry and destructive.

Time grants acclimation. Sleep, if it is going to come, no longer hesitates for the noise of a storm. There are nights when the rains are (gasp!) actually comforting - like those ocean sound generators people buy to provide soothing background sound. I wake, note "Yup, still raining. Pretty good too," turn over and go back to sleep. 

By the way, spring is looming. The equinox may still be two months away but the first daffodils have sprouted. In the coming gloom of February and the on-again, off-again rain of March we look to the daffodils for the promise of summer sun. When we spot the first hardy shoots in January, we celebrate.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It may come as no surprise to the world that taking the helicopter I built apart was a much faster process than the putting together. Rather more enjoyable, too. Dismantling things is a talent of mine. Both himself and I had a great deal of fun un-building bits of our house during the re-model process. Construction requires more planning and thought. Reversing direction is more of a strong-arm job. Give us a crowbar and a big enough hammer and watch out!

Helicopter is history now and I have promised my husband that I will tackle one further project before abandoning my toy. Stay tuned for future cursing and frustration.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love living in a small town in a small state. This surprises me since my knowledge of small towns was based on the hearsay of those who intimated that small towns equaled small minds, and that everyone knew everyone else's business. My knowledge of big cities is likewise limited. Most of my life before Oregon had been spent in suburbia.

The move to coastal Oregon wasn't without some trauma. Living in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, I was accustomed to choice and immediacy. Suddenly I was in an unincorporated village whose population numbered in the hundreds - but only if you searched hard enough. The closest two real towns boasted around 3,000 inhabitants, on a summer day when all the absentee vacation-homeowners were in residence. Go a bit farther and you can find a city (Ooooh!) crowded with tens of thousands, but it would take over a three hour drive to see anything vaguely resembling what I'd left. 

What is terrific about the small town/small state existence is the people. They are not parochial, and they don't butt into each other's lives. There is the same mix of liberal and conservative minds you'd find anywhere else. The community is fine-tuned to the needs of its members and offers help but doesn't push it. If Sarah knows that Letty is having an affair with Bill, the gossip seems to pass me by.

People tend to be pleasant. They seldom honk if you hesitate as the light turns green. They return the carts to inside the market when high winds are pushing them around. We talk to each other in stores, and smile more. Himself likes to tell visitors from the old country that here, even the teenagers are "painfully polite." We nod to those we recognize but don't know, and have time to stop and talk to those we do. Folks go out of their way to be helpful - like the FedEx driver I saw today who stopped her vehicle to fetch and return a ball that flew over the schoolyard fence. Or the teens leaving the high school who had fetched that same ball for the grade-school kids minutes earlier. Warmed my cockles, it did!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Day Off


Himself and I took the day off from the serious and strenuous task of retirement and set off for a drive southward along our favorite section of the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Pacific coastline is beautiful anywhere, loveliest in Oregon, and the portion between our home in Langlois (where?) and the Curry County seat in Gold Beach is the best of the best - because it is ours.


The coast is rugged. There are plenty of wonderful and accessible beaches but also many places where the hillside plunge steeply down to the water. The Rogue River gets the press but the smaller Elk and Sixes Rivers, farther north, are scenic and wild salmon spawning grounds. With not much effort you can view elk, bear, eagles, and seals. With even less you can see deer, raccoons, 'possums, porcupines, and skunks.


True wilderness is something most of us will never experience. (Philosophical question: If we can go there, is it then truly wild?) I cherish the filtered view of it that I get here.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Music, music, music


When I bought the shelf unit that holds our collection of CDs I made sure to purchase a piece that had ample room for additions even though it seemed pretty certain we wouldn't be spending our retirement money on such "frivolities". Apparently, I was mistaken. Our music library that only filled a bit over half the allotted space in that unit, has grown to fill it completely.


Are those darned disks breeding? Is there some incubation chamber or genetic procreation program we didn't know about? It can't be part of the shelf itself, since the same process is happening in my sewing room. One shelf of one bookcase was set aside for my more eclectic listening material, which at the time was a stack of around two dozen CDs. Those naughty little disks have multiplied and fill their area two layers deep.


So, what to do: prune back the stock or buy more shelves? There is really no floor space for another shelf unit but sending away music? This is a hard decision to make.


No, don't want to put it on the computer. The 6+ GB already there is mostly downloaded, not on CD...


Friday, January 8, 2010

I have it figured out at last: the reason I always arrive places way too early. It has to be to compensate for the things I arrive at way late.

It's like this: I'm one of those people who leaves an hour ahead of time to get to an appointment twenty minutes away. A goodly portion of my life has been spent waiting... either to leave (husband is NOT an early arriver) or waiting outside so as not to go in embarrassingly prematurely.

This tendency must be balancing those things I get to late. Like Queen, for instance. Freddy Mercury was dead before the music of the group got through to me with a Wow! Or Jerry Seinfeld. I watched the show in re-runs, having missed it when the rest of the world was laughing. 

The most recent "discovery" is Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog. I just saw this for the first time last night and LMAO. If you haven't seen it you're missing a real treat. Neil Patrick Harris has a great voice, the songs are great, and (on the DVD) the commentary is hysterical.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's A Hazy-Brain Day

The "structured procrastination" on my new messenger bag surely DOES apply to me. I have oodles of things either pending or partially done and nothing close enough to complete and cross off the To-Do list. The more I try to do things the more things there are I want to do and so nothing whatsoever seems to get done.

Now if only it really is just procrastination and not total immobility...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Libraries

I met a man recently who had never been inside a library. Never. An entire life lived without ever availing himself of the treasury we all have nearby. I was completely flummoxed and I'm unfortunately certain that my face revealed my consternation.

Upon reflection it occurred to me that I can't recall my parents setting foot inside a library. Before I could drive they'd drop me off and fetch me from the one in our town, but never came inside and didn't have library cards. Books were simply not a big deal around the house beyond a few paperbacks they were never seen to read. My step-dad read the daily newspaper. Perhaps my mother was too tired after work to read? She went bowling, and I seem to recall her with an occasional magazine, usually while she was under the dryer at the beauty parlor. Wherever did my love of libraries come from?

As a latch-key kid, books were my companions and provided a world in which I could hide. The towns where I grew up were short of bookstores and I was short on funds so a library was a perfect answer to my needs. I could find just about anything inside those walls. 

When my daughter was little we'd sample libraries the way some folks patronize eateries. We had a wonderful set of choices: Sunnyvale, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View. Even now I make use of three different libraries. One has a terrific collection of music, another has a wonderful gift shop, and the closest is awesome all around. Libraries are the best entertainment bargain available. Have you been to yours? Recently?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Days...

The morning began sliding downward when a friend forgot the breakfast date she'd made with me. Warring camps set up in my head: one hollering that I wasn't worth remembering as the other yelled back that this particular friend forgets dates and appointments on a regular basis. I should have called to remind her but I was too busy wallowing in the muck of feeling worthless and forgettable. Why fix the pain when the pain is so, well... comfortable?

Once I was sure I hadn't mistaken the time, it seemed useful to get on with the day. There was a piece of writing to edit so I went to my computer, where I promptly deleted the file on which I'd been working. This is the point where returning to bed and waiting the day out in relative safety might have been prudent. 

The day picked up speed in those small but irritating ways days like this have. Spilled coffee. Lost bookmark. Stubbed toe. As the tears began to build I sat staring out the window trying to find my center, hoping it was a crouched in a warm fuzzy place instead of this cold, edgy spot where the rest of me had tripped.

Then I saw the birds. Dozens of little brown heads poking up from the feeder, tiny brown tail feathers bobbing up from the lawn like exclamation points as heads dipped low searching for stray seeds.  Misery lost its grip to a giggle while feathered mini-acrobats leap-frogged over and around one another in the serious business of getting just the right bit of safflower or millet. My personal circus, performed for me, or so it seemed. Exquisite entertainment for the price of a few handfuls of seed.

The show moved on after the busy morning feeding-frenzy. They will be back later for an afternoon show and in the meantime there are stragglers and the ever haughty jays to keep things moving along. And I'm feeling much better without resorting to bed - though I may go soak my head in the shower for a while!


Monday, January 4, 2010

What to fix for dinner?

What to fix for dinner? The daily question plagues me. I've always been a decent American cook. Nothing gourmet goes on the table, quantity exceeds quality, no one gets poisoned but nobody gets very excited about the meals either. Father was from the midwest and Mother learned to cook as a Navy bride. I retain the meatloaf and potatoes  attitude toward a meal colored by Mom's rules:  every supper must have a green vegetable, and the food on the plate should exhibit a variety of colors. In other words you don't serve baked chicken, mashed potatoes and creamed cauliflower together.

What to fix for dinner? Forty years of marriage, approximately 14000+ evening meals and I'm low on inspiration. As time for preparing dinner approaches my mind skitters over what is on the shelves. We live far enough from town that dashing to the market isn't something we do. If it isn't already in the cupboard or the freezer it won't be on the table tonight. I'm not a dedicated chef so anything I prepare had best require a minimum of fuss and time. Chopping, sautéing, mixing multiple ingredients, battering and all those other cuisine-like chores? Uh-uh! Dump it into a pan and cook it, preferably a single pan, preferably an hour or less cooking.

What to fix for dinner? My husband is lucky to have simple needs regarding food. He says that everything I fix is his favorite. His favorite means it was cooked by someone else and is edible. That is my favorite too, but since Himself doesn't cook my favorite is usually some form of take-out. Last night we had burritos from El Jalapeño. Take-out isn't plentiful around here so that was a treat. But tonight?

What to fix for dinner? 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rhododendron


Those delicate shrubs we tended so carefully in California grow wild here In Oregon. The native rhododendrons bloom around May, lighting the spring roadsides with splashes of surprising pink.

When we moved to the NorthWet we loved the natural setting. I promised I would not bring in Pampas Grass or Eucalyptus to decorate my yard. The invasion of Gorse and Scotch Broom to the region, brought by early settlers,
underlined the importance of cherishing our local ecology and not attempting to recreate some other place.

My exception has been to plant a few hybrid rhododendrons. The natives are light pink, but in my yard, added to a scarlet bush planted by a previous owner, are bushes in various shades of pinks, golds, and reds. The one pictured above is a tough customer. She chooses to begin her bloom around Thanksgiving and continues throughout our winter, despite freezing temperatures, pounding rain, and gusty gale winds. I see her from my kitchen window and try to remember that spring will come. And I begin to search the front yard for the first sprouts of the daffodils.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

T. migratorius

Our front yard constitutes Robin Central today. The lawn and pastures around the house are prime real estate for earthworms which attracts robins in large numbers. There are other birds out there - a flicker mining the driveway, juncos and sparrows and finches (oh my!) scattering from the feeder as a Steller Jay swoops in. A woodpecker flashes a red head as it works its way up the trunk of an alder. But the robins have mastery in quantity.

American robins are good-sized birds and the ones around here are good-sized robins. They run-run, STOP. Tilt head. Run-run-run, STOP. Tilt head and find worm. Worm is dinner and run-run-run begins again. I love the alert attitude and busy spirit. Looking closer I notice that among them, easily overlooked, are several Varied Thrushes. They act just like their cousins, run-run-run, STOP. Tilt head.Eat worm.

With so many robins scouting the front yard how can there be more elsewhere? I check the pasture, the back yard, the field behind the house. The whole place is bubbling with them! Run-run, STOP. Run-run-run, STOP. Tilt. Eat. T. migratorius has migratoried here in squadrons, droves, battalions! At present this is NOT a good place to be a worm. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

2KX

Here we are in a New Year. I didn't sign up to blog every day so it
is quite likely I shall turn slothful and, like the gray whales we
went out to spot in migration this morning, only spout when it suits me.

In the meantime, best wishes to those of you who visit me here. May
the year bring whatever is best needed for your continued growth and
as much happiness and prosperity as can be tucked in around the
whatever.