Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tomorrow is my birthday… number sixty-four. I'm trying to be upbeat about it. I have wonderful friends who are wishing me all the great stuff we wish for each other on these occasions. There is a good roof overhead, food for the table, the bills get paid, my brain - though stuttering a bit - seems to be functioning adequately. But I can't quite get Whoop-de-doo over it.

Maybe there have been enough of these annual milestones that they've become ho-hummy? Or perhaps I'm caught between being thrilled to have lasted another year despite the engulfing decrepitude and… depressed about lasting another year with the engulfing decrepitude? In teenhood the prospect of getting old and wearing out doesn't encroach on awareness. Once past fifty it is hard to ignore. There are moments when the miracle of life still catches me… a sunrise, a smile, birdsong, and laughter catch me up and sing in my heart. There are as many when political unrest, human tragedy, mean spirits, and loss of all kinds sink my heart. I feel like a yo-yo.

Perhaps our basic natures as people don't change over a lifetime. Up and down, down and up. I've ridden this hot-air balloon all along. I'll pen today humming that tune from "Harold & Maude"… and The Big Boss of Bloomfield -> When you're UP you're UP! And when you're DOWN you're DOWN! Halfway would be boring.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Ready

One of my dearest friends is right now making the 500+ mile drive north to visit with me on my birthday. Gail and I have known each other for over 40 years. Our children played together once upon a time, and we have shared our growing up in many, many ways. When Himself and I retired to Oregon the distance, and my friend's busy life, made daily interaction impossible - but heart friends don't lose touch, even when they aren't talking or sitting together for coffee.

When Gail arrives tomorrow I will be giddy with delight at being able to see her, to talk with her, to hug her. A few special days must make up for all the time we are apart.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where is Spring?

This is the time of year when everybody in this area of the country is talking about the weather. Some of us are wondering what the heck we are doing here. For three months in summer, maybe a little more if it is a good year, we have the most glorious weather in the nation. For the rest of the year we sit around and contemplate the moss and mildew. That is the moss and mildew growing on ourselves. The stuff on the house, car, fences, trees and everything else around us, is taken for granted.

It is true that every part of the country has some form of weather that can seem endless and depressing. I'd not trade the rain, rain, and more rain for humongous blizzards, or tremendous hurricanes, or the threat of a twister on the plains. But by spring the rain, with the accompanying WIND we get here along the Pacific coast gets to be a whole lot of too much of a good thing. The ground squishes. Parts of our yard will take several months to dry out - and that only if it stops raining today. Not very likely to happen.

We Oregonians love the green that colors so much of our state. We cherish the trees and fields and relish the contrast of that green against the startling blue of our magnificent ocean. We also would appreciate a chance to dry out a bit now and again. Please, Mother Nature… a few contiguous days of sunshine and a little less of the huff & puff that is sending the trees, anchored in soft mud instead of good solid earth, to a prone position! And by the way - thanks for letting us live in the wonder Pacific NorthWet.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A fellow blogger just wrote about less than satisfactory treatment by a clerk in a store and I got to wondering how often that happens to us these days as we shrug and come to expect it. Why do we do that?

As customers we have a voice and we need to use it, for ourselves and for each other. It is a competitive world out there and plenty of businesses are hurting. They need loyal patrons and should be working to keep those they have. Too often we accept bad service and surly treatment as we hurry to balance busy lives but if we don't demand respect and decent help we aren't likely to get it. We need to speak up, loudly, when stores get slack. They need to know our money can be spent elsewhere.

As important as our complaints can be, so are our praises. When was the last time you complimented a waitress or thanked a grocery store clerk? I still recall my mother visiting the manager's office at a large department store. He approached with some trepidation only to have her praise a particular saleswoman and compliment the woman, the manager, and the store for excellent practices. Attaboys can be powerful things.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In honor of ST. Patrick's Day, and because I am no longer an enthusiastic enough cook to go the trouble of corned beed and cabbage, which I dearly love, Himself took me to town for lunch. No beer, since alcohol provides me with an instant headache, but I was happy to settle for a Reuben sandwich, fries, and iced tea.

Lunch provided me with a chuckle. There we sat, celebrating the life of a Catholic saint - neither Himself nor I being Irish or Catholic. He had a burger which by name would be of German descent, right? I had a more Jewish sandwich but one with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. We both had French fries… which are probably more American than Gallic. And the iced tea? Tea was never grown in Europe even though it became the English national beverage.

No matter how you look at it, it is a multi-cultural world!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Observation on Getting Old

I woke up this morning remembering the busier days of middle age when I got tons of stuff done but always seemed to be running to catch up. Oh hey, those were the days. I fantasized about retirement years and all the time I'd have to spend on the hobbies, the reading, joining organizations, and the other activities work and raising a family supersede.

Fantasy indeed. Here I am with job a thing of the past, my daughter busy raising her own family, and time. I should have time, right?

But getting old has this interesting, enveloping affect. I seem to be able to do less yet find that it takes a whole lot longer to do it.

Whose big idea was that?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Got an early birthday present from Himself yesterday - a lovely new seat cushion for my favorite chair. It was fashioned by Keith of The Uphostery House, in the yellow Feng Shui Building next to the market, right here in Beautiful Downtown Langlois. It can be difficult finding services like upholstery repair in an area like ours. The towns are small and relatively far apart. Work can be hard to find for a craftsman so they tend to gravitate to where the population is sufficient for their business. We feel lucky to have found someone right here who did a wonderful job, did it quickly, and at a reasonable price. If you live along the coast near us and have a chair or sofa needing work Himself recommends him highly. Me too!  Why is it called the Feng Shui Building? That's a topic for another post.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Himself and I have been watching coverage of the earthquake near Japan and the threat of tsunami waves hitting the coast, and it seems obvious that whoever makes decisions at WeatherChannel believes human beings are unable to mentally process any video clip longer than about 2 seconds. It is obvious that the clips are longer but we viewers are apparently too slow and simple to watch them so the editors chew them into bite sized pieces and spew them out for us like pablum. In one segment I saw 3 different views chopped up so that they could be shown one after the other in alternate little hunks. I guess my feeble mind was expected to lose consciousness with the strain of watching 10 sequential moments of tape before moving to another view.

Little bites! Little bites! Little bites!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today, because of an imbalance in the universe, I want to write about favorite-useful things.

This morning, the world tipped - or maybe it was just me - anyway the result was that my favorite coffee mug and a saucer which had sentimental value, fell to meet the concrete floor in my kitchen. Concrete and pottery do not mix. Or perhaps they mix too well? I added a few expletives to guide those two items of crockery into their next incarnation, which is as additions to the rock garden encircling my house.

Some folks who are not imaginative or nostalgic would barely blink an eye. They'd say "Get a new one," and they'd be right. The mug and plate are replaceable as culinary items. They are not so easily replaceable though as it might seem.

The mug was "right." I loved the design and the color, and that it was hand-crafted by a local potter. The thickness of the material and the shape of the cup was pleasing, and the handle fit my grip perfectly. It was MINE, right in every way. There are several similar ones in the cupboard but none of them is quite right in all those respects. The pottery shop where it was made is no longer open.

The plate was saucer sized, made by my mother-in-law many years ago when she and my FIL took pottery classes at their local senior center. It was definitely an 'irregular'. The shape had warped slightly in drying and firing and the embossed leaf decoration was beginner clumsy. But it had MIL initials on it and was a connection to a wonderful woman who was a good friend. It's companion remains and is all the more precious for being a sole survivor.

There are a number of other kitchen items like these two. A serving plate, also made by the in-laws in their pottery days. An aluminum broiler pan dented and bent from tooth and claw of Dudley the Divine, Best Dog in the West, who spent the last two precious years of his life with me. I cherish these things and am sad when the universe reclaims them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today is what we coastal Oregonians call a "moderately breezy" day. Folks inland would say it was bloody windy and they'd hang on to trees and huddle behind buildings to keep from blowing away. We don't take notice until the trees are horizontal and small animals take flight and sail toward the Canadian border.

I can recall taking a friend from California out on a mild summer afternoon to visit the lighthouse at Cape Blanco. It was surprisingly calm for that "next to the most western" point on the US coast. She politely declined to get out of the car because it was so windy. I was baffled since the day was one of the calmest I'd ever experienced on that nearly treeless lump of land.

You get used to wind here. Although we have lots of rain umbrellas are rare. They simply don't survive. Folks are pretty nonchalant about rain as well. Raincoats are rare, with most folks donning a sweatshirt if required and only the softies resorting to something that will shed moisture. It is no wonder the UO uses a duck as a mascot.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


My birthday is at the end of this month. It is one of those milestones I've been anticipating since the '60s, my "Beatles years" - "When I'm sixty-four." I have no cottage on the Isle of Wight. No Vera, Chuck or Dave, though my daughter Alpha could surely blow all three of them out of the water. I'm looking forward to making the date though since I doubted I'd ever get this old.

The first notice of the date came with greetings from the State of Oregon telling me that my driver's license was up for renewal. Ah, the apprehension produced! Visions of pop quizzes, unprepared for, questions that can't be gracefully answered… Hey! Some of us take any opportunity to create anxiety in our lives! Watching myself writhe and worry has historically been a terrific domestic sport but for some reason, I decline to suggest that wisdom and maturity could be responsible, I chose to Carpe Diem and not wait until the last possible moment to make the trek to the DMV.

The Oregon DMV is somewhat of a treat compared to my memories of the state to the south. The "long line" consisted of two people waiting ahead of me while a DMV employee put a new roll of paper in the machine that dispenses in-line numbers. What? I get to SIT while I wait? And the wait was a pleasant five minutes or so while I gazed at photos of Oregon landscapes displayed on the walls and filled in the What-are-you-here-for questionnaire. I'd already decided not to grumble out loud about the various "prove-who-you-are" papers I needed to produce. The folks at the desk had surely heard it all and better before LilOldMe showed up at their door.

My number was called and Zip! Swoop! All was quickly accomplished. No test. No questions for which I had no answers. Himself was at my elbow patting my shoulder in comforting fashion and gathering up the scattered debris as I juggled cane, purse, and various bits of paper. Yes, my driver's license photo IS the worst picture ever taken of me. And I'm still trying to figure out the reason for the rule (and it is a rule. I asked) that the DMV employee who took the picture had to be a different one from the one who filled in all the info to the computer. I didn't ask them as I was afraid I'd burst into laughter and annoy the folks behind the counter… so if you know, please pass me the info!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Some of the things going through my mind this week:

The commercials on TBS are 33% louder than the movies. I thought there was some sort of rule saying this was a no-no. Last night watching a flick I had to reduce the sound level that much every time an ad cycle came on. Oh, and the commercial breaks get longer as the film progresses. But then we all knew that, right?

I'm still wondering why the food you buy at fast food places never looks like the stuff in the commercials. Oh, you mean because they'd be embarrassed to advertise mushed burgers and limp fries?

It seems high time to reduce the salaries of elected officials commensurate with what they want to do to teachers and other public employees. And can we toss in the salaries of semi-literate news-spielers?

There certainly can be too much of a good thing. At least it isn't snow.


People are complaining about fuel costs. Again. I'm rather disgusted with humanity on this subject. I sat in lines to buy gas in the '70's. The issues haven't changed much as far as I can see. We've been a one-car family since then and always with a make/model that got the best mileage available. well, until now when we can't afford to go to a hybrid. But at least we still get almost 40mpg. Those folks who've bought gas hogs the past 30 or 40 years deserve to start walking.

Grandchildren are about the best prize for surviving to old age that there can be.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I get a daily email from a site called that contains bits from various books. Yesterday's entry was, should I say "interesting" - or better yet "stunning". It concerns something called The Impostor Phenomenon. I recognized the psychological situation at once.

Wow! I have a phenomena… dah-dah -de-dah-dah!

The Impostor Phenomenon is defined thusly:

"Those who are afflicted believe that their successes cannot be attributed to their own abilities. Instead they are convinced that other people's praise and recognition of their accomplishments are the result of charm, deception or simple good luck."

It is described as "not debilitating" but I can attest to the fact that it steals the joy from any achievement and provides constant anxiety. No matter the work, the results, the attainment, you feel fear. You are sure someone will eventually see your faults. The world will accuse you of cheating or misrepresentation. Praise is craved but never truly accepted. No matter the effort you see yourself as a fake and become afraid to even try.

I'm so familiar with this mindset. Any success is a fluke and discounted. Recognition by others brings fear of discovery. Oh yes, been there. Do that.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pre-Birthday thoughts

My birthday comes up the end of this month… the big Sixty-Four. I think that Beatles song has been in my head since my teens. Sixty-Four. Some sort of ephemeral goal to work toward and now I'm nearly here, the goal not quite as unobtainable as it once seemed.

And the interesting situation of being asked, "What do you want for your birthday?" comes up.

How does one respond to that?

Any answer seems wrong. Too expensive. Too difficult. Overly modest. Not very honest. How do you answer that mostly you have what you want. that some of what you might like is unreasonable or unobtainable, that trinkets are just that, that a surprise - one that is not a shock, is lovely but difficult to come by.

What I most like is time with the people I love. Oh… and not to cook dinner!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Being an extremely emotional person, and learning I was somewhat disposed to be depressed, I have learned various tools for dealing with my moods before they get out of hand. Music is one of the easiest of those tools to grab and use. When winter hovers heavy and gray and my emotions threaten to follow I head for the CD collection and browse until something inside says "Stop! That's IT!".

Today the IT is Les Charbonniers de L'Enfer. I can't listen to their music without being in the rhythm and harmonies. It is all French and I haven't a clue what they sing about. I break into the call/response with a hopelessly broken sound-somewhat-alike warble here and there and bounce along in happy enjoyment. For an hour or so I'm in the music and not in cold or gray or sad or tired or…

Tomorrow it may be Keali'i Reichel, Brave Combo, The Beatles, ABBA, or some Bhangra tunes. The music will circumvent my thoughts and reach my heart, pushing through the clouds. It's a lot like chocolate but with fewer calories.

How about you? What do you listen to in the dark days?