Friday, March 31, 2006

Clogged Up and Bogged Down

Despite my daily walks with Princess, a good chunk of the winter has been spent sitting on the couch reading and knitting and watching Wheel of Fortune. Even though I am a vegetarian, I don’t always eat the “right” foods. Not good for the overall health picture. I feel weighed down with toxins, and my energy level is at its lowest ebb ever. Time for corrective action! And what better time than this weekend when I have to adjust my biorhythms anyway due to Daylight Losing Time.

Here we go with a Nine Day Juice Fast for cleansing. Want to join me? Do a little research online or check out some books from your library and get going. Got an unhealthy habit you would like to get rid of? Come on…you can do it. As always, if you are on meds or have a medical condition, check with your doctor.

Here is a Plan for the Nine Day Juice Fast. You can make up your own guidelines to meet your specific needs. Some people drink a different juice for each body condition, but that's beyond the scope of this plan.

During the first three days, avoid the following:
Processed foods and junk food
Fatty or fried foods

Here is what you can have:
Fresh Fruit: Enjoy all fresh fruit. Go easy on grapefruit. A compound in grapefruit called naringin can significantly inhibit liver detox enzymes and should be avoided during detox diets.

Veggies: All fresh vegetables except corn, which can be an allergenic food. Great detox foods include broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, artichokes, beets, red and green vegetables.

Grains: Rice is easily digested by most people. Choose brown or basmati rice, rice cakes, rice crackers and rice pasta.

Legumes: Split yellow and green peas and lentils are easy to digest and require less soaking time. Other acceptable legumes include kidney beans, pinto beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and adzuki beans.

Nuts: Unsalted nuts, seeds and nut butters can be sprinkled over any meal. Includes flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts. Avoid peanuts.

During the middle three days, avoid solid foods for detoxificaton. You can have:
Water, lemon water, 100% natural fruit and vegetable juices (think organic), rice milk. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, warm or room temperature. Water is essential to clear waste from the blood. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger.
Do not drink liquids around mealtime.
Dilute fruit juice with 50% water.
Take the time to chew food well, especially grains.

During the final three days gradually add back the solid foods from the first three days. After the fast is over, you may find you do not want to resume using caffeine or sugar. Junk food may not be so appealing. This is a great way to get started on a new healthy eating plan.

You should know that this is a detox diet and some of the toxins may result in bad breath. Watch out for breath mints as they mostly contain sugar. Other undesirable effects such as body odor may also result. A trip to the sauna or lots of hot steamy showers will help. Try a face mask and/or a loofah scrub. Pamper yourself.

This is a time for meditation as well. The spiritual aspects of fasting derive not only from the discipline and austerity required to do it, but also from the focus and clarity that it provides. With the lengthening days of spring, we emerge from winter’s sleep into the wide-awake days of summer. It’s the time to stretch and breathe in deeply while planning a summer of enjoying this beautiful world. Vegetables and fruits will soon return in abundance, and our diets will improve. Welcome spring, what a great time for cleaning, inside and out!

You can do it!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My New Best Friends

Believe it or not…they are HIKING BOOTS. The minute I put them on they felt so comfortable, so right, so “me.” I have been looking for just the right pair since I retired my beloved Vasque boots awhile back. I have some awesome sneakers and wonderful Ugg boots and other kinds of footwear that work in many of my life situations. But for my life outdoors in Oregon, hiking boots are de rigueur.

Phil and I participated in a Hike Leader Training program with Friends of the Columbia Gorge and throughout April, May and June we will be leading/participating in a number of hikes in The Gorge. In addition, we will be going on hikes with the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club. Not to mention things we think up on our own like whale watching and dog walking in the Sandy River Delta. These boots are made for walking (and hiking) and they will be doing just that.

Heavy enough to provide good, sturdy support on the trail, but light enough not to weigh me down. Some of the places we go are nicely maintained trails, but others are “off trail” where we are scrambling over rocks and finding our own way. My old joints sometimes give me problems, especially my knees and these should help me find a solid footing.

Most of you know my son Andy works for Columbia Sportswear and this has resulted in my being completely outfitted in all manner of rain weather gear. These new boots come from Columbia and you can see them at Look for Bonanza Peak. British Tan. They are waterproof, “impermeable” the tag says. Thank you, Andy, for helping me acquire these great boots for my Outdoor Oregon adventures. They will become my new best friends!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I am thankful for the laughter, except when milk comes out my nose."

Woody Allen

Monday, March 27, 2006

Let Your Kids Run Wild Week

This week is Spring Break and it ranks right up there with Take Your Children To Work Day as a time to be endured with gritted teeth and earplugs. The rug rats are out and you see them everywhere…playing in the street, and parking lots, and just about any location except a park or playground. It is impossible to avoid them or to hear yourself think over the noise of bouncing basketballs and crashing skateboards.

Oregon got a jump start by having teacher conferences all last week to segue into the main event. By now the little folks have run out of things to do and are resorting to the time-honored Boredom Eliminators which include blasting loud rap music, throwing rocks, writing obscenities in chalk on the public sidewalks, and “hanging out.”

Where are the parents, you ask? Well…if they work that is where they are hiding out. If they don’t work, they’re watching Oprah and have the door locked. Either way, they are uninvolved and apparently under no obligation to supervise their offspring. Thanks to budget cuts and other school priorities, most of the “Latchkey” programs have been cut.

I’m hunkered down in The Hideaway nursing Little Buddy who is still recovering and catching up on my reading. And waiting until it is safe to return to civilization.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Good Hot Breakfast

This was something my mother believed in with all her heart and soul, and I ate one every morning of my childhood. And always…no matter what else was served…there was oatmeal. Not the instant or quick-cook stuff they have today, but the real thing. Steel-cut 100% whole grain Irish oats. It took a long time to cook and the first thing in the morning…before she started the coffee…she put the pot on to boil.

My earliest memories of coming into the kitchen first thing after I got up was the smell of oatmeal simmering and gently bubbling on the back burner. In the true Scottish fashion, it was eaten with butter and salt. No sugar or milk.

Yesterday I ventured to Whole Foods to purchase McCann’s Irish Oats as I had a down-home hankering for that “good hot breakfast” again. Cooked in the old-fashioned “keep an eye on the pot on the back burner” tradition while I fed the dogs and tidied up the house. But I cheated a little.

My friend Richard in Minnesota sent me some maple sugar he distilled from the sap he obtained from tapping his maple trees. It just cried out to be on the oatmeal and so instead of salt, I had a delicious maple taste. I also used a butter substitute that is reputed to be “heart healthy.” But my mother would be happy. It was a good hot breakfast. And to top it off, afterward I made my bed. Another tribute to my mother.

And then I scrubbed the oatmeal pot. I can still see Momma standing at the sink doing that morning chore. It is comforting to continue this tradition sixty years and half a continent away from my childhood.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Name of the Game

Some time back, I wrote about what to call “old people.” [1/9/06 – From 60 to 80] Well…what to call people who have reached the age that used to be called “old,” but are now resisting that label. I threw out some ideas. That posting generated more e-mails and responses than any other I have written. (Is there a message there?)

So it was nice to have some consensual validation when I opened the Sunday paper and found an article in Parade Magazine on the very same topic. The “Post-60 Stage of Life.”

Here are some ideas:
Donald Trump: The Best-Yet Stage
Naomi Judd: The Rockin’ the World Generation
Quincy Jones: The Silver Foxes
Jenna Elfman: The Values-Keepers
Henry Winkler: The Grateful Live (my own personal favorite!)
Judge Judy: The Better-Than-Evers

Some other ideas for use instead of “senior citizens” are:
Seasoned citizens
OPALS (Older Persons with Active Life Styles)
SOCS (Septuagenarian to Octogenarian Citizens
The Forgotten
OWLS (Older, Wiser Souls)

Ages and Stages:
Sage Age
XYZ Group
Grand Years
Age of Dignity
Giving State
The Third Half
Bonus Years
P.S. Stage (Post Sixty Stage)
The Re-Generation

This is obviously a topic to which many people have given consideration. However, none of the above really appeals to me. After all that speculation, I think I am going back to “old” as it is short, concise, to the point, descriptive and open to personal subjective interpretation which gives it expanded meaning. You can’t go wrong with that.

P.S. more suggestions of what to call grandparents.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Scott’s Birthday

On February 9, 1964, I settled down, hugely pregnant, in my rocking chair to watch the Ed Sullivan Show on our little black and white TV. Before then I wasn’t really familiar with the Beatles, although I had probably heard their songs on the radio. But that night I got it. And in my mind, all these years later, that was the kick-off…the beginning of an era of music that burst forth and captured the sixties. My son’s lifetime ago.

That child I was carrying was Gregory Scott Graham, who was born six weeks later on March 23, 1964 in Marin County General Hospital. We were living in Sausalito at the time, around the corner from the home of the Kingston Trio, and up until then we were mostly into the folk music scene, with the Weavers and Joan Baez big favorites. Dylan, of course, figured in there as well. But when the Beatles hit, the scene changed. And I truly think it permeated my body and soul as Scott has loved music and been very much influenced by those sixties musicians as well.

He and I have created some memorable moments around music, attending shows and concerts and events in Golden Gate Park. And his guitar playing has made many times in my life more pleasurable. Who knew…on that cold winter night forty-two years ago… that such a wonderful son was going to be born and bring so much joy into my life. Happy Birthday, dear Scott.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Capture the Moment

This is the second morning in a row that I have been awakened by the honking of geese flying over on their way to their summer homes. They make a stop at Blue Lake near my house and on some of the ponds around the Sandy River. I think they enjoy being tourists and zipping by Mt. Hood and gliding around The Gorge before heading north. It is certainly reassuring to hear them and have yet another sign that Spring may eventually come to Wood Village.

There are some other signs. A few daffodils blooming in a neighbor’s yard. Buds on the trees and some have even blossomed out. When I walk around the loop with Princess, a few houses have open windows and one had the air conditioner running. One family had their tent trailer popped open and airing out and getting ready for a camping trip.

Sunday we had a Sun Break and my friend and my son and I went hiking in The Gorge. A bit of a sight-seeing drive first. Then a trek up to Latourell Falls, a two-mile loop that took two hours to hike as we were taking it easy and stopping to enjoy the wildflowers and smell the freshness of the forest. More sight seeing on the way home. By the time we got here, the wind had come up and the sun had gone down and by the next morning we were back in drizzly weather.

My friend has a digital camera (am I the only one who doesn’t?) and snapped some shots along the way. She likes to “capture the moment” and have a reminder of some time or place that was meaningful. I’ll look forward to receiving some of her favorites so I can share the memories. We had a great time while she was here with family gatherings, good eating and general joie de vive. She inspires and energizes me. Her visit was a special treat.

She brought a wonderful Mandala puzzle as a gift so I have something to do on this rainy day when I am sticking close to home as Buddy recuperates from his surgery. I can catch up with last Sunday’s paper, knit some more on the baggy socks, work on the book I am trying to get ready for publication. These are good days in my life and I am grateful for my wonderful family, incredible friends, a cozy and warm home, and my special pets.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vernal Equinox

Spring officially comes today at 18:26 UT (measured at Greenwich, England) which is 1:26 p.m. EST and 11:26 a.m. PST. In case you were wondering. At this time, the sun will pass directly over the Equator. Equinox means “equal night” because day and night are equal all over the world.

The date is fraught with rituals and traditions as people welcome Spring into their lives [or Autumn for those living in the southern hemisphere]. It is a time of rejuvenation and rebirth and of the blossoming of hope.

The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. In 2006, the full moon will be on April 13th and therefore Easter will be on Sunday, April 16th. April 13th is also the beginning of Passover in the Jewish calendar.

A common old wives’ tale is that this is the one day you can balance an egg on end. [If you want to, but why would you?] Anyway…if you have a spare dozen or are fixing an omelet or baking a cake, go ahead and try it.

This is a time to put some equal balance in your own life. What goals or projects have you left undone or never gotten around to? Time to recommit to those (or maybe scratch) and consider what goals or wishes you would like to achieve or have happen over the next year. This ritual assists in the balancing of it all.

Take a moment and enjoy this day of new beginnings.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

All we are saying… give peace a chance. Today marks three years since King George began to lay waste to Iraq in a desperate and ultimately futile search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now… TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND NINE American soldiers are dead and hundreds, maybe thousands, more injured, and who knows how many Iraqi civilians have been blown off the face of the earth. For what?

On this day for each of the past three years, I stood alone on the Courthouse lawn in Osceola, holding a peace sign and watching people flip me off. This year, I am in friendlier territory and will join with others in marching to protest The War.

Let’s push for an Exit Plan, let’s Bring the Troops Home, and let’s Impeach Bush.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

“It’s Not Too Late To Sleep Like A Baby…

…Mattress World.” Sometimes those advertising jingles just sneak into your head and keep playing over and over and over. Portland has some great mattress store ads, the “baby” ad being one of my favorites. The other is Sleep Country USA’s question, “Why buy a mattress anywhere else?” I haven’t really counted but I would guess these ads are on local TV stations once an hour 24/7 and you would be hard pressed to find any Portlander who couldn’t identify them.

I’m not in the market for a new bed. I bought one three years ago and I will tell you it made a world of difference. Back in 1987, I fell for one of those Sleep Easy commercials and bought a foam pad and box spring that were delivered the next day and lasted me for sixteen years. It seemed great in the beginning and I just didn’t realize how lumpy and dented that mattress had gotten until I splurged on a new one.

My back bothers me. A combination of old age, arthritis, osteoporosis, and scoliosis. Exercise helps and Princess and I walk every day. It also helps to keep my weight down. But nothing beats a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. Notice I said “in” not “on.” I like it soft as a cloud and wrapped around me so I don’t roll around. None of that sleep number stuff for me. No board under the mattress. No firmness.

Here in Portland on these cold dark damp evenings, I turn on the electric blanket to warm things up a bit before I hop in. I turn it off then as it is not a good idea to mess around with your magnetic field, especially when you are sleeping. On top of the electric blanket I have a regular bright yellow one that my sister gave me many years ago. And on top of that a patchwork quilt my ex-husband’s mother made out of Grandpa’s pajamas. Once I am under all that I can hardly move, but I feel safe and warm and dry despite the beat of the rain on the window.

Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Erin Go Bragh

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and my saint’s day and a day that people of Irish descent celebrate by drinking green beer and becoming rowdy in the streets.

Here is something I’ll bet you didn’t know. The phrase Erin go bragh came from a 19th century Scottish song that tells the story of a Highland Scot who is mistaken for an Irishman. It goes like this:

My name's Duncan Campbell from the shire of Argyll
I've travelled this country for many's the mile
I've travelled through Ireland, Scotland and a'
And the name I go under's bold Erin-go-bragh

One night in Auld Reekie as I walked down the street
A saucy big polis I chanced for to meet
He glowered in my face and he gi'ed me some jaw
Sayin' "When cam' ye over, bold Erin-go-bragh?"

The usual translation of the phrase is Ireland Forever and it has now come to stand for Irish nationalism. Whatever your heritage, have a happy St. Paddy’s Day, don’t drink and drive, and remember Scotland.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mad Cow Disease in Alabama

Aren’t you glad you’re a vegetarian?
Aren’t you sorry you’re not?
What else can I say?
Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Et tu, Brute?

Today is the Ides of March, the day that Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 B.C. He was stabbed in the back by an angry group of senators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar’s great friend and senator. Caesar initially resisted his attackers, but when he saw Brutus, he supposedly spoke these words, “Et tu, Brute?” and resigned himself to his fate.

As far as Caesar knew, the Ides was just another day. Even though he had been told “Beware the Ides of March” he was not prepared for the betrayal. Today the soothsayer’s warning has imbued the date with a sense of doom and foreboding. Thanks in part to Shakespeare who included the famous words in his play.

Did you know it used to be the day income taxes were due. Back in my childhood, my father always commented on the choice of date by the government. I don’t know when they changed it to April 15th, but only us oldies can remember March 15th as a day to beware of the IRS!

Today is also the birthday of my friend Kelly who lives in Grass Valley, California. Tomorrow is the birthday of my friend Brenda who lives in Calhoun, Missouri. Next week, on the 23rd, my son Scott who lives in Portland, Oregon will celebrate his birthday. Greetings and felicitations to all born in March.

This is also Trash Pick-Up Day in Wood Village and the rumble of the recycling truck can be heard as it stop/starts all around the loop. I still marvel at the convenience of having someone pick up my cans and bottles and papers right at my front door. In Missouri, I took these items 100 miles to Kansas City to recycle.

Today is also the day Little Buddy comes home after his hip surgery. We are so anxious to have him back with us. We have missed his happy spirit and the way he is so excited to see us every morning. Thanks to all who have sent good thoughts to him.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Storm Cellar

If I were still back in Missouri, I would have been hunkered down in the damp dugout basement under Terrapin Station, with the dogs on leashes and the cat in a cage. I would have had my storm kit, cell phone, crossword, and pee bucket. I’d be hoping to escape the tornado that was crashing across the countryside. It came early this year, usually it arrived in May when I lived there. But no less deadly for being premature.

Thankfully, I am safe here where the winds blow, but not quite with all that force. I feared for friends back there, but all have checked in and reported they were spared. But there is terrible devastation. And across the country, friends write from different places about the strange, unseasonable weather.

We had snow right in downtown Portland last Thursday, and the roads have been bad in the early mornings as temps are falling below freezing overnight. Wood Village is in a small temperate pocket and has been spared some of the worst of it. No storm cellar here so I am glad I no longer need one.

My fear now [I may have written before] is that Mt. St. Helens will erupt again and coat us in ash or perhaps hot flowing lava. And there is always the chance the Columbia or Sandy Rivers could flood. Oregon has its earthquakes just like California. Who knows?

Saturday night we experienced some strange sonic events and people from all over the area were calling 9-1-1 and the TV stations. Of course, the military denies any involvement. But some strange booms occurred….so loud the china rattled in the cupboard and car alarms went off. It is now being attributed to aliens or terrorists.

So dear readers wherever you are…stay safe and heed all warnings and keep your duct tape and plastic handy. Oh…did you hear…the new recommendation for withstanding the Bird Flu epidemic is a supply of canned tuna fish and powdered milk. I myself prefer the Duck and Cover plan I learned in grade school.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Saga of Little Buddy

Just about one year ago a tiny little puppy lay abandoned in a ditch beside a highway in rural Missouri. He was found by a passerby…a driver who took the time to stop when she saw the little dog trying to climb up onto the road. That happened to be the day I was heading up the highway to Warrensburg to see my friend’s entry in a quilt show. Since I wasn’t on any particular schedule, I had time to stop when I saw the distraught woman holding the puppy by the side of the road.

To make a long story short, she had to go to work so I offered to take the pup back to town to the Shelter. It turned out the Shelter couldn’t take him as he was not weaned and would require attention every two or three hours over the weekend. They didn’t have the staff to do that. So I agreed to “foster” the puppy I had already started calling Little Buddy. I fed him formula every few hours for a about a week and then got him weaned and eating yummy baby cereal. It wasn’t long before he was dipping into the dog food right along with Princess.

My big Black Lab had never had any pups and she was beside herself with excitement at the opportunity to be a mother after all. She adopted Little Buddy and tended him and guided him and taught him all her tricks. When he was old enough to be adopted, I ran an ad in the paper, but no suitable person came forward. Just a few jerks who wanted a dog for all the wrong reasons. By then I could not let Little Buddy go. He had gotten into our hearts. So we adopted him.

He is still with me today and he and Princess are a team to be reckoned with. But his life has not been easy despite the care and love we have given him. He has very severe hip dysplasia and, as he has grown older and heavier, it has prevented him from walking normally. He is probably in a good deal of pain as bone rubs against bone.

So tomorrow, our special little guy will undergo surgery (a bilateral FHO) to create a pseudo joint in each hip that will be pain free and enable him to have a better quality of life. He’ll be able to go for walks, swim and play with Princess. He is very very special to us. He has brought so much joy into our lives, we want to give him this chance for a better life. There is though, as with any surgery, some risk involved. So send good thoughts to Little Buddy as he undergoes this treatment.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


We are cleaning out our clothes closets. Easier said than done. For a packrat like me, even getting rid of worn-out, ill-fitting garments is fraught with nostalgia and memories. A favorite skirt that is now faded, the waistband stretched and floppy, the length way too long. [That is trash, not suitable for give-away.] A dress I bought when I weighed much too much and wanted to cover the lumps and bumps with a sack. Other skirts that were part of a work wardrobe no longer needed. Jackets that I never wore. A scarf with a map of California.

The Goodwill here is a Superstore and almost better than shopping at Nordstrom’s Rack! Lots of brand-name labels and everything clean and in good condition. The only used clothing store I have ever been in that didn’t smell like old shoes. I’m keeping an eye out for some nice soft well-worn jeans, maybe some khaki cotton pants for the Spring that might be coming but is not here yet.

They have other things…household items, books, small pieces of furniture, appliances. I am looking for a small crockpot to make my oatmeal in overnight while I am sleeping. There’s a chance I will see something I don’t even know I need.

The charity had a brouhaha awhile back when it was discovered that the CEO was making $800,000 plus and the disabled/down-and-out workers made minimum wage. He resigned and there has been some reorganization, and they are off my S*&% List and back in my good graces.

After my shopping spree, I’ll stop for Chai Latte and then pick up some take-out for dinner. Windy and Chris are coming over to watch a movie and vege out and take it easy before the Shamrock Run tomorrow. I do not plan to participate and I may even bow out of watching if the weather continues to be in the low 30s.

Just another Saturday in Oregon.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Plot to Overthrow the American People

Do you feel safer now? After fanning the flames of panic over homeland security, the pols have defeated the proposal to hand over six US ports to Dubai Ports World. I am sure you are “comforted” (Bush’s word) that now, in addition to this little gray haired old lady not being able to take her knitting needles on an airplane, those confounded Arabs won’t be managing the inspection of cargo coming onto American soil. And will you rush now to re-elect those leaders who hopped on the security bandwagon and plotted the mini-revolution?

Let’s see. After carefully micro-managing the tiniest details of this administration’s every action for five years, the triumverate of Rove, Rumsfeld, & Cheney and their handmaiden Rice have all fallen asleep at the switch, have let something get past the gate, have been taken by surprise. Do you actually believe this? Do you believe that they have not had a hand in this, that the outcome is not a planned one. It seems pretty clear to me that a high school scenario is playing out. The captain of the football team, the class president, the most-likely-to-succeed guy along with the prom queen have sat together in the corner of the cafeteria after orchestrating some major prank and made a plan to throw their buddy to the wolves and let him take the fall.

What the heck…he’s a lame duck anyway. And we know what Cheney does with ducks. Or was that quail? Or was that a buddy? Anyhow…Bush gets to keep his title and his life-long friendship with the House of Saudi. And the boys are laughing all the way to the bank. Because you know they will have a hand in choosing the successor to Dubai. Who will it be? Haliburton? Merck? Philip Morris? the NRA? Beatrice Foods? the Army Corps of Engineers? the Indians (hey, they’re pretty good with those casinos), the Gambino Family? Anybody want to bet that the “U.S. entity” that will be handed the control from Dubai will have some tie to some or all of the above.

Meanwhile…back at the ranch…back in Iraq…back in Iran…back in China…back in North Korea…back in Venezuela & Argentina & Colombia…same old, same old. And oh yeah…while you weren’t looking…they renewed the Patriot Act (masquerading as the Meth Bill"). So…do you feel safer now?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Winged Messenger

Mercury Retrograde is upon us and the “cosmic magician” is sending communications into a snarlup. Conversations, travel, appointments, mail, errands and other activities of daily life may encounter problems. This is a time to lay low.

This year, the three week period begins March 2nd and ends March 25th. 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!

Sounds like I live my life in Retro most of the time! These are my favorite activities and no big adjustment is necessary. Well…I can skip cleaning the house, but otherwise… sounds like fun.

One bit of advice is especially appropriate today as I just learned I did NOT get the part-time job I had applied for. From a website: “Just try not to start new things. If you have to start a job during a Mercury retrograde period know that the nature of the job is likely to change dramatically over time. Perhaps the person you report to will leave, or your responsibilities will be very different from what you thought they would be. Or your company won't be ready to take you on, and you won't have much to do until things are reorganized.” Whew! That saved me some heartache.

So scale it back, kick back, lighten up, take it easy, let it go, leave it be. Have a mini-vacation from busyness. In case you are working on your Day Planner, the next cycle for 2006 is October 28th to November 17th.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Big Storm System Approaching

Greetings from Soggy Bog, Oregon! Another wet day with rain and snow predicted and winter advisories urging folks to stay home and not drive. This is the Lion of March who outbested the Lamb. If I were leaving for work, it would be a “wet commute.” But as luck would have it, I don’t have a job so no problem there.

Folks are beginning to suffer the effects of cabin fever and there is a general escalation of irritated responses to casual unintended insults. At the postoffice, a woman with a baby shouting at a disabled senior who didn’t hold the door for her. At the grocery store, a man disregarding the Ten Items Only to the dismay of the soccer mom buying only milk. For my own protection, I try to stay out of the stores and out of people’s way. Road rage is no longer confined to the road, and an outburst can occur anywhere at any time.

Even stalwart Oregonians, used to rainy winters, are about done with this one. The term “unseasonable” doesn’t even cover it. Friends write from other parts of the country that the daffodils are blooming, and I remember the joy in Osceola of finding those green shoots and yellow flowers scattered throughout the yard. Nothing here but the same old pine trees and muddy yard.

We have plans for the weekend. A day of Scottish Country Dancing on Saturday and the Shamrock Run on Sunday. Guess which one I will skip if the rain continues. Despite my complete Gore-tex outfit, I would just as soon go with “Let’s don’t and say we did.” Windy has been planning on it, though. We’ll wait and see.

In about ten days, a friend is coming from California and we are praying to the Mayan gods to let up on the rain here for awhile. But…we can always stay inside and eat and play poker. [The new family fun activity.] The question is…Would I have moved here if I had known how wet and cold I would be? The answer is yes as the benefits of being close to family far outweigh the discomforts of mildew and mold.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jolly Old (and I do mean OLD) St. Nick

It’s March now and the Christmas decorations are still up at the house down the street. They put them up right after Halloween, the first house on the block to do so. Other garish stuff went up later on other dwellings around the loop, but most of that has been taken down or blown away. At the very least the Santas have toppled over into the bushes. But at #41, the season is still jolly. St. Nick on the roof, giant stockings full of toys on the fence, a giant candle guarding the carport, dangling lights all over the building, angels and the Blessed Virgin lurking in the yard. They are all there to greet me on my daily walks.

These folks are in good health. I see them coming and going and they have a son who appears to be about junior high age, and out every day playing ball with the other kids. Do they not notice? Do they not care? Are they just going to leave them up so they will be first again next year? Why don’t these seasonally challenged folks take down the decorations?

I am reminded of the time my son Phil had a paper route when he was about nine. He liked to sleep in his clothes so he would already be dressed when he got up in the morning. For whatever reason, these people are sleeping in their Holiday Decorations and it is starting to irk me. For one thing, I am watching for a sign of spring and Santa is not it. The house farther down the street where a bunch of little kids live has since had valentines stuck on the windows, flags flying from the porch for Presidents’ Day, and now kelly green shamrock whirligigs whirling in the yard. The Easter Bunny will, I know, be making an appearance soon.

I can handle the seasonal stuff especially if it concurrent with the real season. And I enjoy the handcrafted/homemade items the little kids put up all crooked and bent. But I am just plain sick of #41 and the Christmas theme. I am thinking of sneaking down under the cover of darkness and helping them out a little bit. However, I have a feeling these folks also have hidden motion sensor lights that will blaze on and reveal me for the Scrooge I am.

Do you think I could report them for “disturbing the season?” For “maintaining a seasonal nuisance?” For being idiots? For missing the point? Whatever…I may have to find a new route for my walks and skip having to pay homage to the Virgin Mary as I go by each day. Neighbors not withstanding…I wish you a very Merry Spring.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Little Buddy

The tiny puppy I adopted back in Missouri has turned one year old. We celebrate his birthday in early March as he was judged to be about four weeks old when I found him in a ditch in early April last year. He has had trouble with his legs for his whole life and during his one year check-up we learned he has hip dysplasia. He can’t walk normally with his back legs, but is still surprisingly active and able to enjoy his life.

Andy built a ramp to make it easier for him to come in and out of the house, and a sling enables me to help him in and out of the car. He does not seem to be in pain and in fact is a happy and engaging little fella with a sweet attitude. He is tightly bonded with Princess and she continues to mentor and mother him. When he came home from the vet with all those strange smells upon him, she licked him all over and laid close until he came out from under the sedative.

On Saturday, he graduated from Beginning Obedience Class with pretty good grades (expectations were adapted to take his disability into consideration). He now knows SIT, STAY, DOWN, HEEL, COME, DROP IT, and LEAVE IT. He also knows TEETH and will open up wide for examination. Pretty good I think. He is anxious to please and tries his best. He may have a tough road ahead as he grows older. But we love him and are committed to giving him the best possible pain-free life for as long as we can. He has brought much joy into our lives.

So Happy Birthday, Little Buddy and Congratulations on your Graduation!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Time of Year

If you go by the weather…cold, rainy, windy…it is still winter here in the Northwest. But if you go by the daylight, you have a glimmer that the season is changing. It is no longer pitch dark when I get up in the morning. And day before yesterday, Princess and I were still out on our walk at 5:00 p.m., a time we are usually at home in the winter. On Saturday, there was a spasm of sunshine and just a hint of the promise of Spring in tiny green shoots poking up from the mud. Today it is Sunday morning as it has been…a time to curl up with the paper and maybe a third cup of coffee.

The news in the paper is not good. The Patriot Act looks poised to pass on the Meth Rider that has deflected attention from the main bill. The Dubai Port brouhaha will likely end as Bush wants it, with the “45 days of consideration” a sop to the demands of an ill-informed public and the clamoring media. In Oregon, Measure 37 has been upheld by the State Supreme Court and will make the concept of land use planning a joke. The Indians (and out here they are not Native Americans…they are Indians) will likely get to build their garish and polluting off reservation casino in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Here in Portland, as in Iraq, curfews have been imposed to control the crowds of out-of-control teenagers during the melee heyday between Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. Last night a drunk driver rampaged through nearby Gresham, killing one and injuring several before he/she abandoned the vehicle and escaped.

In the midst of this, I try to build a personal cocoon where my life is not threatened and I can pursue my interests and enjoy my activities. The Hideaway is the last residential dwelling in Multnomah County located between I-84 and the River. From here, I can zig-zag around industrial land and spend time in the Sandy River Delta and on the banks of the mighty Columbia. Shorebirds abound and soon wildflowers will blanket the ground. But development is knocking on the door, and soon this place will be at risk as “progress” moves in. Plans are afoot for Maya Lin (architect of the Vietnam Memorial) to design some huge glaring modern commemorative structure to loom over the riverbank in some kind of testament to the misery of Lewis and Clark who wintered here. This will bring giant earth moving equipment and noise to my peaceful place and, when finished, will bring a steady stream of tourists and their pollution and trash.

As the country lurches into this new century and I head toward the downward slope of old age, there is some pressure to get out and enjoy what is here now while I can. So…next week I am leading a hike in The Gorge and I will be out as many days as possible on my own.