Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Weather Glyphics

Late night weather report last night said there would be snow down to the 500 foot elevation. Sure enough…scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen this morning is the list of all the schools in outlying areas that are closed. Estacada, Scappoose, Troutdale. No snow here at The Hideaway. Wood Village’s elevation is only 150 feet above sea level. This may not bode well if global warming causes the oceans to rise, but for winter weather glyphics, it means snow is very unlikely.

Not to say it isn’t chilly and frosty with icy fog hanging over nearby areas where a person might want to venture to buy gas or groceries. It’s uphill all the way to Safeway. A good day to stay home and catch up with loose ends like The Blog and paying bills and starting to address holiday cards.

Strong storm system approaching the coast, and the coastal range and the Cascades will be buffeted tonight. Tomorrow may be a lock-down as well. Still not so cold or severe as what I left behind in Missouri. My place is very tight…no breezes blowing through or drafts rattling the pages of magazines on the coffee table. Even the dogs are sheltered on the glassed-in deck where they sit on the bench and watch the world go by without getting wet or cold.

This is a little pocket…protected by huge pine trees and out of the path of weather rampages. A great place to live! I’m settled in now, unpacked, and getting back into a routine of sorts. Another month of freedom and then back to work on January 3rd. For tax season only.

So I treasure these quiet mornings with my second cup of coffee, and these lazy afternoons after my walk having some hot chai. Whatever the weather, I am warm and cozy here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mercantile Madness

Were you out there at dawn waiting in line in who knows what kind of weather for the door buster bargains at the mall or the discount store or wherever goods are sold? Did you patiently go through the foot high stack of ads that came with your newspaper yesterday? Have you waited all year for this Shopping Day to end all shopping days? Are you just so anxious to give someone else your money that you can’t stand it? Did you get your X-box? Your digital camera? Your new car?

It continues to amaze me the lengths to which some people will go to further the fortunes of Sam Walton’s family or other kings of commerce. The hype that surrounds this day is overwhelming and, according to news reports, will result in economic recovery for the poor merchants affected by Nine Eleven when spending plummeted as people re-adjusted their values. Not to worry. It seems folks are back in Acquisition Mode and joyfully spending money they don’t have for things they don’t need or to give to other people so those people can return them and exchange them for something they don’t need.

Forgive me…I don’t get it. My own savings beat anything any merchant can advertise. More than 10%, or 50% or any other. My savings are 100% because I stay out of the stores in the safety of my own home and give thanks (a day late) for all the STUFF I already have and which I need to start getting rid of.

There are a few things I want, but nothing I need. And therein lies the distinction. Thanks to affluenza and advertising, it appears a large number of the populice cannot make that differentiation.

Why do people shop till they drop?

Perhaps the answer is the same as the one to the question “Why do dogs lick their balls?” "Because they can. "

Have a happy day and keep your money in your pocket and your pocket in your pants.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Day 2005

A time to be grateful. I wish you all the best.


"Ohenton Kariwahtekwen"



Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.
Now our minds are one.

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
Now our minds are one.

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.
Now our minds are one.

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.
Now our minds are one.

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.
Now our minds are one.

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.
Now our minds are one.

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.
Now our minds are one.

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.
Now our minds are one.

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
Now our minds are one.

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.
Now our minds are one.

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.
Now our minds are one.

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.
Now our minds are one.

Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.
Now our minds are one.

CLOSING WORDS.......... [Reader's personal thoughts...]
Now I give thanks for all the wonderful people in my children, my friends. And for my pets and the wild inhabitants of my yard. I give thanks for my health, and for my new home in this beautiful, spiritual place. From The Hideaway, I will think of each of you on this Thanksgiving Day and you will be at my table in spirit if not in person. I hope you enjoy reading these wonderful words.
Now our minds are one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Plain Brown Wrapper

From out of the blue, a small package arrives in my mailbox. The name and return address are not ones I can immediately place. Did I order something? Did someone order something for me? Is this a gift or a mistake? It’s addressed to my PO Box in Osceola and forwarded here. Someone who doesn’t know I’ve moved. Not a close friend then. But of course it isn’t. I would recognize the name.

Who is this person who is sending me a surprise? I search the memory bank (a dusty place these days) and come up with naught. I am almost afraid to open it. The enigma is tantalizing, and I set the package on the counter while I unpack the groceries and let the dogs out. It keeps catching my eye as I walk by. Such a puzzle. What in the world is it?

What would fit in a box that size? Jewelry maybe? A small book? Something folded small? A cell phone? A pack of cigarettes? It is definitely smaller than a bread box. Small enough to fit in my little mailbox. Sturdier than a padded envelope that might hold a CD or a tape. What is it?

This is just so strange. I hardly ever receive anything that I can’t identify before I open it. And surprises are few and far between. This is a moment to savor. Unless of course, it contains an explosive device or a mysterious white powder. It could be a box of note cards or a deck of playing cards. A box of checks? Maybe a tiny turtle for my collection.

Soap. That’s it. But then it would probably smell of lavender or lemon. A souvenir from somewhere. An ashtray from St. Louis or a refrigerator magnet from Sun Records. Maybe it’s one of those little books of inspirational verses. Or photos. That’s it. But why would someone I don’t know send me photos?

Why would someone I don’t know send me anything? This is a puzzlement. It’s a plain brown wrapper which might signal something prurient. But then there is the return address so that’s not it. Certainly it’s nothing I ordered from e-bay as you know I hate e-bay and have never availed myself of that sea of merchandise.

Okay then. Enough of this. I have to open it. It is well-sealed and requires scissors to cut the paper away. I clip the return address out carefully, but the wrapper with my address and the Priority Mail sticker go in the trash. Well…it appears to be a box of greeting cards. A kitten sleeping with a daisy on its nose on the outside. Kitty cards. Of course. But why…why…why?

Open the box. Go ahead. Open it. A small envelope with my name on it and [suspense music here] a DVD. A movie, “Running on Empty.” The card in the envelope has two kitties on the front and inside a message from a grade school friend (now married and hence the unfamiliar name) that I touched base with at the Reunion last June.

The movie is one of her favorites and it made her think of me. It is about war protestors in the 60s. Well…yes…I was that. I didn’t blow anything up and I haven’t been on the run ever since, but I certainly remember those times. This will be the perfect evening viewing for this pre-Thanksgiving week when interesting TV is scarce. Perhaps tonight I will pop some popcorn and kick back and watch it.

It continues to amaze me that I hear from people who say I have touched their lives in one way or another. Through my writing or how I live my life. It does make it worthwhile getting up in the morning! So, Janet…my friend from the fifties…thank you for the gift and for your thoughts. This will go on my shelf of treasures.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Buddy and I ventured forth this morning to Misty Meadows Kennel for an interview and screening to determine if we will be accepted into the Beginning Obedience Class starting in January. Buddy, for reasons I cannot comprehend, behaved beautifully and did not exhibit any of the annoying behaviors that sent me there in the first place. Hmmm.

The drive down was extraordinary. Winding roads through the eastern reaches of Clackamas County past enormous country houses interspersed with small cottages and hundred-year-old farmhouses. Breath-taking views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. Tiny roadside businesses all closed for the winter. Signs for hay and straw just like in Missouri. And everywhere…green…green…green.

The dog trainer comes highly recommended and working with him should be fun. He has a great sense of humor and seems to really enjoy his job. Buddy seemed to recognize the authority in his voice and just responded. He didn’t do his Dead Dog Thing where he just falls over and goes limp and closes his eyes and turns off his hearing aid.

Later this Spring, Princess will go back to school herself to qualify as an Animal Assisted Therapy Dog. She makes so many friends on our walks, I think she will be very good at visiting old folks and sick kids. But first things first. Buddy needs to learn Sit… Stay… Down…Come. Life will be much simpler then.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Peaceful Sunday Morning

Dogs napping on their puffy cedar beds, bean soup bubbling in the crock pot, Sunday paper spread about, incense burning and filling the air with frangipani, jazz playing on the radio, sunlight streaming in the window and making the golden walls glow. A time to be thankful for a wonderful life as Thanksgiving Day approaches.

All of us will be together here and sit down at the dining room table to share a meal and love and fellowship. It is the first time in many years that the entire family will be in one place at the same time. The menu is traditional. And for those of you who are wondering …yes, I will cook a turkey. Bowing to requests to re-create the old days.

Thinking of my lone dinner last year in Osceola. Jump Stop Pizza and Ben & Jerry ice cream. Eaten in front of the TV with only Princess and Lenny to keep me company. The year before, Windy and I shared a Tofu Turkey. This will be a vast improvement and we are all looking forward to the event.

After the turkey is in the oven, we will head out to Ox Bow Park for a nature hike along the Sandy River. Only about five miles from my house, a beautiful place with rushing streams and wandering trails. Two Park naturalists will share their wealth of knowledge on local wildlife’s reaction to cold weather, and then recite the Iroquois Nation’s “Thanksgiving Address.”

The weather is breaking all the rules for Oregon in November with sunny days predicted all through the week. Who could ask for anything better? The holiday week is off to a great start this peaceful Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blowin' in the Wind

In Osceola, my colorful windsocks and collection of wind chimes hung on the porch primarily as decoration, sometimes fluttering a bit or ringing a note or two, but rarely whipping about with wild abandon as they are doing this morning on the porch at The Hideaway. The famous/infamous Gorge Winds are blowing with fierce intensity.

Inside I am warm and cozy and the house is tight. Unlike my 95-year old place in the heartland, there are no cracks to admit the weather. The trees make wild shadows on the blinds and bushes rub against the foundation making strange noises that puzzle the dogs.

Usually June is the favored month for wind in the Gorge. The sun bakes the lands east of the Cascades, causing the air to rise. Cool air from the west side then rushes up the river, whipping through Hood River with near gale force at times. These winds, blowing against the downriver flow of water, create a recreational weather phenomenon as popular as the snow in the Cascades. Wind has turned Hood River, once an ailing lumber town, into the Aspen of windsurfing. “Pray for Wind Parties” and “Windfest” events, usually in June when things start to pick up in the rush of currents through the Gorge, bring tourists and wind sport aficionados from all over.

November is not wind season, but we all know the cycle of nature is being changed by global warming and human interference. So the winds are blowing today and if you have a wet suit and a stout heart you could go windsurfing on the Columbia River. Later I will go out and see if there is any activity nearby.

This is the day to drive a big heavy sturdy clunky SUV if you are venturing forth. VW buses stay home as staying on the road might be a challenge. And a hat that ties under the chin is also a plus. Zip up the coat, don’t carry loose papers, and, by all means, don’t spit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Beaver Moon

Oregon is the Beaver State and tonight is the Beaver Moon. Very fitting that it should be my first full moon here at The Hideaway. It will rise in the sky over Mt. Hood, visible from right outside my front door. This will be a marvelous welcome to my new home. Princess and I will take a moonlight walk and revel in the beauty of this place.

When the last full moon rose, I was watching it from the front porch at Terrapin Station on my last night in Osceola. The U-Haul was packed and we were stretching out in sleeping bags on the floor waiting to take off at dawn on the long journey west. That whole scenario seems years ago and it amazes me that it all has happened within a month’s time. I am here. I am “home for the holidays.”

My household is finally unpacked (or at least all the boxes that aren’t going into the storage shed are empty), and the cartons are broken down and gone to recycling. Most of my objets d’art, gee gaws, chotchkes, souvenirs, mementos, etc. are set here and there throughout the house. Books are on the shelves, dishes in the kitchen cupboards.

The dining room table is finally clear of pictures waiting to be hung and miscellany that had no obvious home. We will eat there for the first time tonight when Andy and Laura come to celebrate his birthday, their engagement, and the full moon. We’ll watch the Johnny Cash special on TV (with great reception and a “pause” feature thanks to the new cable hook-up and DVR).

When I was a child, this moon was called the “Rutting Moon,” describing the behavior of many species before the long cold winter and hibernation set in. These “unmentionable” activities created the new life that burst forth in the Spring. Political correctness has altered some of the terms that offended and now it is more common to hear the Native American names such as “Beaver” instead. So called as this was a time to set beaver traps in order to have warm furs for winter.

The Algonquian Indians had names for all the full moons related to nature and the seasons. When the white settlers first met these tribes, they adopted many of the names. You probably know some of them. For every month there are at least two or more versions, depending on where you live and how delicate your sensibilities.

Whatever you call it, the full moon rising is a spiritual and awe-inspiring sight. When you see it, think of me and I will think of you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mercury Retrograde 11/14 – 12/3

Feeling a little off-center? Disorganized? Discombobulated? Things getting out of control? Going sideways? Nothing works? Everything breaks? All the light bulbs burn out at the same time? Car died? Misplaced something important? Can’t find your glasses? Checkbook won’t balance? Welcome to Mercury Retrograde. And right at the advent of The Holidays. What a bother!

This is an astrological phenomenon that causes a bit of disruption in the normal scheme of things. But what is it? The apparent backward motion through the zodiac of a planet. All the planets, except Sun and Moon, have these retrograde periods, but Mercury is most famous for them, probably because Mercury represents our very essential communication abilities. So your computer may act up or your television go out. Your cell phone may not work and your check may be lost in the mail.

Be careful. This is not the time to engage in critical communication activities like giving a presentation, signing a contract, making a promise, quitting your job, or selling your treasured possessions on e-bay.

The good things to do when Mercury is Retrograde: meditate, contemplate, edit the book/poem/song/essay you've been writing, clean house, talk to your pet, listen to music, paint, catch up on sleep! Hunker down. Stay still. Breathe deeply and spend some time outside in nature. If it’s not too cold where you live, take off your shoes and walk barefoot on the earth.

The period of Retrograde is where one learns to adapt to new rhythms, and explores different ways of learning. This is a good time to confine activities to those that have "re" at the beginning of the word. Therefore, rehash, review, rejuvenate, refine, reflect, repair, recheck, reschedule, realign, rewrite, reformulate!! Take inventory of what has occurred over the previous three months and reconsider and reexamine your experiences. That is good use of Mercury retrograde energy. When Mercury is direct in motion again, proceed with confidence in planning and acting on your new activities and endeavors.

Three weeks from now, on December 3rd, we can return to our normal activities with our batteries recharged. Till then…the couch beckons.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Naked Neck

The first thing I noticed when I was out and about in Portland was that every single woman had a scarf around her neck. Apparently a fashion MUST here in the Pacific Northwest. And especially here in The Gorge where the cold winds blow.

So a trip to The Yarn Garden provided me with the supplies to make myself a warm wool scarf to wrap around my naked neck and tuck inside my Gore-Tex Columbia coat.

As I have previously written, knitting can be a soul-soothing activity and one that ends up being useful as well. So…give it a try. Invest in some high-quality hand-dyed 100% wool and a pair of beautifully crafted, silky smooth wooden needles. The tactile feel is important to lend satisfaction as you knit and purl. Here is a very simple basic pattern:

Reversible Garter/Rib Scarf:
1 skein of 100% wool 100 g or 175 yds.
1 set #9 needles (preferable wooden)

Cast on 21 sts
Row 1 – k1, p1 across, end k1
Row 2 – p1, k1 across. end p1
Rows 3 & 4 – k across
Repeat these four rows until the yarn is gone
Finished scarf will be approx. 5” x 48”

For a wider or longer scarf, buy more yarn. Or use larger size needles.

Have fun and stay warm! No more naked necks!!

Friday, November 11, 2005

“On A Clear Day You Can See the Farallons”

This is what we used to tell people standing in our living room in the old house on the hill in San Francisco. Uh huh.

“On a clear day you can see Mt. Shasta” is what I used to tell people who visited me in my mountain home on The Ridge. Uh huh.

And now… “on a clear day you can see Mt. Hood” is what I tell myself when I feel like I am living in a deep bowl of fog and clouds. Uh huh.

This is a day for snuggling up under an afghan and digging into a new book purchased yesterday on a trip to Powells. Or knitting a new plum colored scarf with soft wool yarn purchased yesterday on a trip to The Yarn Garden. Or eating leftovers brought home from a trip to Pataya Thai for lunch with Windy yesterday.

It’s a holiday (one I don’t particularly favor celebrating) so there is a strange quiet in the neighborhood. Not a good day to run errands, or work in the yard, or even go hiking. It is time to draw in and have some quiet down time. A little meditation, some classical music, maybe some journal writing. Mercury Retro doesn’t start until Monday, but it already seems like time to curtail extracurricular activities.

Some clear and sunny days are predicted for next week. By then I will be energized and ready to go out and about after a little soul tending this weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

“I will lift up mine eyes…

From my front porch, the eastern sky is awash with the colors of dawn: pink, rose, blush, pale orange, light blue, tinted white. Long wisps of clouds drag along parallel to the horizon, and Mt. Hood rises stark white against this backdrop. This is a magic mountain and living within its aura is a spiritual experience that fills me with awe.

In my lifetime, I have spent time near sacred mountains and this is where I feel most at peace. In 1994-95, I lived on Wild Pig Ridge in Tehama County, California and from my humble dwelling I could see Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak, two of the mountains revered by the Indians.

As a child and teenager, I spent summers in Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains with a view of Long’s Peak. The highlight of my years there was climbing the East Face and signing the register at the Agnes Vail shelter.

Now I am sheltered in the glow of Mt. Hood, often called the “loveliest” of the chain of extinct volcanoes. At 11,235 feet, the peak reigns as the monarch of the Oregon Cascades. On a clear day, I can look across the river into Washington and see topless Mt. St. Helens. For me, as for many others, these mountains are a source of inspiration and wilderness meditation.

One of my favorite places to spend a few minutes of quiet time is Portland’s Women Forum Scenic Viewpoint nine miles from my house. The view of the magnificent and awesome Columbia River Gorge is absolutely breathtaking. And from that spot high on the ridge on old Oregon Highway 30, Mt. Hood is a commanding presence. Stopping there for moments of meditation brings a wonderful sense of spiritual peace.

I am reminded of my favorite psalm:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Chinese Menu

Choose one from Column A, one from Column B, one from Column C, and one from Column D…a wise way to tailor your meal. It’s also a great method for living life in Oregon where, as I am discovering, the weather plays a bit of a role in what you do and when you do it.

There are basically four kinds of days:
A - Clear and sunny
B - Overcast but not raining
C - Overcast and lightly raining
D – Overcast and really REALLY raining

I’m learning to take advantage of those sunny moments and times when it’s not raining to get outdoors and do things. Column A includes exploring the area, hiking, walking the dogs, enjoying nature, working in the yard. Column B is for running errands, going to recycling, grocery shopping, anything that involves moving something from one place to another. Column C is for indoor fun such as movies, art galleries, museums, coffee houses. Column D is stay home and clean the cat box.

Today was an A day and the dogs and I explored some of the back roads of The Gorge visiting the tiny towns of Springdale and Corbett. From a lookout high on the ridge we could view the magnificence of the river and watch the traffic on Highway 84. Autumn leaves are as brilliant here as in the Ozarks but displayed against a background of dark green conifers. Above all the panorama, Mt. Hood rises in the distance.

This is an awesome place of incredible natural beauty.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Search and Rescue

Despite its deceptively placid scenic beauty, The Gorge is a rugged place. A French tourist has gone missing at Eagle Creek near Cascade Locks. She has not been seen since 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Last night rain pelted this area and high winds ripped through, bending the trees and singing a song of the power of nature. Not a night to spend in the wilderness. Alone. In a strange country.

Not dressed in a lightweight yellow parka and tennis shoes. Not if you are unfamiliar with the steep inclines and twisting trails of the parts of The Gorge that border the Interstate. One minute you are in a flat friendly parking lot and the next you are surrounded by hundreds of trees that all look alike and faint trails that meet and branch off. It is not all that hard to lose your way.

In my previous incarnation here in Oregon, I taught Wilderness Survival classes. Our resort was a training ground for Eugene Mountain Rescue, and often we were first responders when someone went missing on the mountain. That was thirty years ago and yet the safety message has still not gotten through. People still head off late in the day dressed in inappropriate clothing and flimsy shoes, without food or water or any safety equipment (matches, whistle, pocketknife, mirror for signaling).

Then…in the dark of night in the worst of weather, stalwart rescuers set off to try to find them. They bring communication devices, battery powered lights, collapsible stretchers, blankets, medical supplies, food, water. A heavy load to carry for the sake of a stranger. But each time a report comes in, they go out. Without hesitation. The Sheriff’s rescue team, EMTs, experienced hikers, local residents who know this country, Mountain Rescue personnel, dogs, horses. Sometimes divers from DART are added to the mix if the Columbia or Sandy River might be involved.

Nearby Mt. Hood has had its share of lost souls stranded there and up that high snow and freezing cold enter into the mix. Hypothermia and frostbite are always lurking.

The lesson here: Use good sense when setting out to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness. When the outdoors beckons, take a minute to pick up your little fanny pack with supplies that you would be grateful to have should you stray from the path. Wear layers, have raingear and a hat. Sturdy shoes or hiking boots even on the hottest days. Need I say NO flip-flops. A map is often a good thing. A flashlight. Don’t count on your cell phone which will probably not work.

Do not make Search and Rescue come for you.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Chains Required

It’s SNOWING in the Cascades. The passes are icy and slippery, some roads are closed altogether, chains are required for travel to the mountains. Ski resorts are opening this weekend, and from my home on the way to Timberline, I can hear the hue and cry of skiers off to the chase.

It is almost whiplash to go from the hot days of Indian Summer in Osceola to Instant Winter in Oregon. Here at the West End of The Gorge, what comes down from the sky is a chilling rain. Definitely has a winter feel.

Out on the porch this morning for a short spell and watched flocks of geese flying over on their way south. I had forgotten to mention those travelers when I wrote about traffic in The Gorge. It amazes me how Wood Village straddles a great metropolitan city on one side and a vast wilderness on the other. If I turn right I am on my way to Mt. Hood National Forest; turn left and I am on the freeway headed into downtown Portland.

Last night I attended Andy’s party in the urban core (Northwest) and watched city folks all dressed up and out on the town for dinner and entertainment. Today, in boots and parkas, Windy and I are off to explore one of the nearby parks and we’ll see other hardy souls decked out in Gore-tex braving the weather.

This place of contrasts entrances me. And what fun to be in a place where people have fun in the snow and actually enjoy it. So I am off to buy chains for Rider. I’ll be heading up to Timberline soon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Happy Birthday…Happy Engagement…Happy Life

Andy Gee is 35 today and is pleased to announce his engagement to Laura Kay Duffy. This is wonderful news and we are all happy to welcome Laura into the family circle. No date has been set, but we will keep you informed.

Tonight the family will gather together at Old Town Pizza to celebrate both the birthday and the engagement. I am so delighted to be here and able to attend. The first of many times I will share with my children that was the reason for my move to Oregon.

So…dear Andy…Happy Birthday…Happy Engagement…Happy Life.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hold Fast

It’s possible, I suppose, that Portland will go under like all other sea-level cities when the oceans rise and overtake the land. And that will push water back up the Columbia River and there could be flooding here at my new home. But…joyous news…one of the highest spots in the country, Mt. Hood, is practically outside my front door. I can walk there (at a fast pace!). I wonder how many of us can squeeze onto a mountaintop?

Certainly it is something to think about in the light of recent events. Of course, I can also think about wild fires out of control in Mount Hood National Forest. Or another eruption of Mt. St. Helens. I could also get hit by a bus while crossing Sandy Boulevard.

So…after some very basic preparedness measures, I will forget all potential disasters and try to make each day count. Someone said, “Live every day as if it is your last. One of them will be.” Sounds like a plan to me.

This place does have the feel of safe harbor, with its history of being a destination for many, many travelers. It is cradled by the sturdy Cascade Mountains, nourished by the Columbia, Sandy and Willamette Rivers. It has had a magnetic draw since the days of Lewis and Clark. It has pulled this old lady into its arms here in 2005.

Whatever the future brings…I will be close to my family. We will join together and protect each other and stand firm against whatever nature throws at us. In fact, the motto of Clan MacLeod is “Hold Fast.” That we shall.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

Sometimes someone else has done such a masterful job there is nothing left to say. Check out this website. Wonderful photos and instructions for building an altar including the four elements of earth, water, wind and fire. for English speakers for Spanish speakers

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

I honor my four grandparents, Archelaus & Grace, W.G. & Clara Belle; my parents, Clarence & Winifred; my sister, Frances; my Aunt Clara; my uncles Phil and Ernie; and my friend, Keppy.

I also honor the spirits of pets: Ragz, Taffy, Babe, Little Kitty, Squeaker Louise and Rocky Gee.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Samhain (Celtic Winter)

Samhain on November 1st marks the Celtic New Year as the Winter season begins. In the Christian calendar, this is All Saints Day. The days are drawing darker, shorter and colder. Daylight Saving is over and I have moved to a new time zone so hours are lost and found. In Osceola the trees will have become bare and leafless, but here the evergreens are ever green. The agricultural year is at its close and we saw the last of the root vegetable harvest as we came through Idaho on our jouney here. But this is also a beginning. Seeds germinate in the dark depths of Winter in preparation for their Spring emergence. Bulbs and seeds from my home in Missouri are in the ground and will bring happy memories in the Spring. For humans, the period of Samhain is a good time for introspection and personal reflection. I, too, am “germinating” and feel like I will emerge a new “urban” person by Spring.

Here at The Hideaway, I am warm and cozy in my new place. Surrounded by boxes yet to be unpacked, I can take a few minutes for my book and my knitting without upsetting a schedule or missing a deadline. Now I’m having my second cup of coffee and watching cars stream by as my neighbors head to work. (Not a familiar sight in Osceola!)

The dogs are snoozing on their new cedar beds (thanks, Windy) and the cat is busy arranging the empty boxes to suit his fancy. Today’s project is opening cartons of books and arranging them on the shelves that smell of new wood. Always an enjoyable task as I meet old friends and thumb through treasured volumes. [See Three Foot Shelf July 7, 2005 in the Down Home Musings Archives.]

Since Vibes is on hiatus, here is your November Calendar:

November 1 All Saints Day
November 2 Day of the Dead – Mexico
November 4 Andy Graham is 35 years old
November 5 Osage Princess Dark Star is 4 years old
November 11 Armistice Day (11th hour, 11th day, 11th month)
November 16 Full Moon (Beaver Moon)
November 24 Thanksgiving