Saturday, September 30, 2006

Freedom to Read

"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

This is the 25th Annual Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association, “BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.”

You will not believe the titles on this year’s list released by the ALA of books pulled from some libraries or schools.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
The Catcher in the Rye
Garfield: His Nine Lives
The Handmaid’s Tale
Harry Potter (the entire series)
Little Red Riding Hood
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate dictionary
To Kill a Mockingbird

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Headin' South

One of the things I loved best about this time of year in Osceola was the bird migration that flew overhead. So it was very comforting this morning to find that the nearby Sandy River Delta is also on a flyway. As I went out for the morning paper, I heard a familiar sound. Princess quickly looked up and there, spread across the sky, a vee of Canadian geese heading south. It’s time. Time to pick up and head south for sunnier climes and the wintering grounds far, far away. A long journey ahead for these birds.

It was a bit chilly in the driveway and I hurried back into the house. These fall days have been unusually warm, but the nights are crisp and the temperatures drop into the 40s and 50s. I’m still needing that extra blanket on the bed. This weekend we’ll be out and about. Saturday Phil and I are leading a Special Needs Hike to Catherine Creek (about fifty miles from here on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge). On Sunday Windy and I will visit Tryon Creek State Park. We’ll hike a portion of the Forty Mile Loop. Even though the park is not that far away in Southwest Portland, we want to check out an overnight stay in one of the yurts available for rental. Fun for a family pajama party.

On Sunday it will suddenly be October and another page turns on the calendar. Next month is starting to get as crowded with activities as the last few have been. The fun of living in Portland with so many choices and so much energy. The first weekend in October Phil and I are again leading a hike. A Full Moon Madness Hike to Multnomah Falls. The Falls in the moonlight are awesome. This is an incredible time of year in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Make Way for Santa!

Have you finished your shopping yet? Are you old enough to remember when folks were incensed about stores putting up decorations before Thanksgiving? How about before Halloween? We’re up to before Equinox now, and next year, it will no doubt be before Labor Day. Inching toward the 4th of July.

On my latest I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-this foray into Wal-Mart I was stunned to discover that Halloween has quickly replaced School Supplies (which appeared shortly after Memorial Day), and all household items like plastic bins and wastebaskets and bedspreads have moved to the back of the store on the top shelf to make way for Santa!

Of course, many of you will have bought wrapping and decorations at last year’s Day After Sale so you may not be tempted. But boy oh boy…are the kiddies ready. They have been seeing ads on TV for Elmo and I-pods and they are makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice.

Soon it is all going to meld and, second only to the magnitude of global warming, we will see a meltdown and merging of the seasons into one giant holiday season that lasts all year. And who else to carry the mega-mercantile banner better than our friends the Waltons.

Have you heard of Buy Nothing Christmas? Take a look at the website for the movement that started in 2005. Just think about it. What a concept! I like the suggestion to think about what you want…that you already have. I do like to remember the wonderful network of friends I have out there by sending a holiday card/note. It is hard to break away completely from the custom of giving. And maybe not what I really want to do. But I do want to resist the whole commercial enterprise and give handmade items.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Here Comes the Sun

Earlier this summer, I hung a bamboo shade over one of the windows on the deck to block the bright sun shining in my eye when I was standing at the kitchen sink making the morning coffee. This morning I had to squint and realized the sun has moved and now comes up in a different spot. I am still in my first year here and consequently I am not completely acquainted with the different aspects of the seasons.

Certainly it is getting dark earlier and light later in the morning. The electric bill inched up this month and I’m sure it is from turning on lights. It’s very chilly this morning and it felt good to come from the paper dash into a warm (from the dryer) laundry room. The dogs huddled on the doorstep ready to come inside after their morning relief. Nothing to see out there as the Circle is quiet on Saturday morning.

Coffee is ready now and it’s time to kick back with my cuppa and read the morning paper and catch the Ryder Cup on TV. Today this ritual is inside as the porch is a bit damp with condensed dew (not quite frost but getting there). Quiet moments before the busy day begins.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumn Comes to Oregon

Such a beautiful perfect Fall day! Just the right amount of crispness in the air. And Mt. Hood is gleaming in the sun, covered with the new snow that fell last week. We did have a little preview to remind us that winter is coming. But the rain is gone and the weekend looms bright and glorious. This afternoon is very inviting for dog walking.

Tonight at 9:03 p.m. PDT we will say a nostalgic good-bye to summer and turn toward shorter days and chillier nights. Already there’s an extra blanket on the bed, although we have managed to avoid turning on the furnace so far. It’s down in the 40s in the early mornings so not sure how long we can hold out. Leaves are turning, and falling, and there is a smoky haze in the air.

This time of year always brings memories for me and moments of intense nostalgia. I seem to miss all the places I have lived as Autumn arrives. Fall has been a season of new beginnings for me so many times. And last year it was a time I said farewell to Terrapin Station.

There is sadness for that wonderful place. But fortunately I have an incredibly busy few months coming up as I get into activities, spend time with my wonderful family, and start contributing to the community. No time to dawdle around sighing over the old days.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jubilation In Eugene!

Ducks Defeat the Boomer Sooners 34 – 33.

Can you hear the cheers? Did you watch the game?

What an awesome autumn afternoon at Autzen! With only three minutes to go, Oklahoma was ahead 33 to 20. Seemed pretty hopeless to me. I almost changed the channel. But the Ducks pulled their balls out of the fire. A lucky (and slightly suspect) call gave them the ball for one touchdown, and a "hail mary" in the last minute gave them the second touchdown. They topped it off by blocking Oklahoma’s final point kick effort in the last two seconds.

This was the first win in seven times they’ve played this team. Certainly, as the coach said, the seventh time was the charm.

What a great game! What a great team!! What a great day to be an Oregonian!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Sister Frances

On a day like today…gloomy, overcast and getting dark earlier…my sister would put on a pot of coffee about four in the afternoon. A “pick-me-up” she called it. And during that last year of her life when I lived with her in the apartment on Funston in San Francisco, we liked that time to transition from the day to suppertime. If the fog was swirling around Sutro Tower, we might pull the drapes and draw in to ourselves. We did our needlepoint, read our books, listened to music. I know we watched TV programs later in the evening, but from this great distance I can’t remember any of the shows.

Today the wind came up just before I took the dogs out and tempted me back to the old habit. I put on a pot of coffee before I left, and when I came home I was greeted by the wonderful aroma. It was strangely comforting and made me think of my big sister. I don’t have a pot with a timer anymore. Back then (the early 80s) we could fix the pot and it would turn itself on just before we planned to return home.

But in those last days, we didn’t go anywhere. Or she didn’t. I ran all the errands…to Park & Shop, to the Needlepoint Store, to the Pharmacy on Irving, to the Five & Dime. It was nice to know that when I returned, with all my packages and bundles, she would have a pot of coffee waiting. How many cups did we share during that time?

On a day like today…with a San Francisco feeling about it…I miss my sister. I am older now than she was then. She has been gone twenty-two years, but my memory of her is strong, and sometimes I feel her presence like I do today. My sister Frances.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

When JFK was shot? November 22, 1963
I was waiting for a bus on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco near my workplace at the Mental Health Association at 998 Eddy. I was pregnant with Scott.

When Jerry Garcia died? August 9, 1995
I was listening to my battery powered radio while I ate lunch at my mountain home on Wild Pig Ridge in Tehama County, California. I left immediately for San Francisco.

When the first plane hit the World Trade Center? September 11, 2001
I was at work at my new job as Administrator of the St. Clair County Health Department in Osceola, Missouri. It changed my life there.

I had been in town for only two months after moving from California, and I was still unpacking boxes at home and getting oriented at work. There was a TV in the staff room for watching training videos, and we tuned in to a blurry black and white news account of the terror in New York. At noon, we closed the Health Center and we all went home to watch and cry in our own homes and to touch base with our families.

That was the day my “Slide ‘n Glide Into Retirement” job changed drastically from an easy admin role into a position as a First Responder and member of the State Terrorism Task Force.

I resigned the following August after a year of high pressure demands. For the following two years, I continued to get those “Alert” phone calls in the middle of the night until Missouri finally updated its lists.

On each of these dates, I observe a moment of silence for what was lost.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football?

All you need is a couch, a TV (preferably with cable), a remote, snacks, beverages, and the ability to vege out for about five hours, give or take. Sundays in the Fall spent watching football! What more can a Couch Potato want? For me, I also need some yarn and a pair of knitting needles.

Twenty years ago (how has it been that long?) when I was living (if you can call it that) in Quincy and Roseville, I “got into” football. Partly so I could have something to talk to my teenage sons about, and partly so I could just sit down for awhile and rest my weary bones after a year of moves and job changes. I decided to use my time wisely (something I had not been doing well), and we all know (thank you, Mr. Stark) that “busy hands are happy hands.”

And so was born the Fall Football Project…usually an afghan, sometimes a sweater, once a series of scarves. A BIG project that required quite a few hours of knitting, not too complicated, but challenging enough to stay interesting over three months. You can see the fruits of my labor in the homes of my children and friends, draped over the couch, wrapped around their necks.

So once more, I am starting out on another knitting adventure. This time, an Aran Afghan (more lace and cables like the Wedding Afghan). Knit in strips that are easily manageable (and portable) using fancy stitches from the book 99 Stitches that I won as a door prize at Yarn Yoga. If you knit…you will recognize the directions: K2 tog, PSSO, SSK, YO etc. It does require paying attention, but not so much you can’t look up for that winning touchdown.

If the afghan strips get me down, I can turn my attention to making my first lace doily using a pattern my friend Pam sent me. This is a TINY project using size 1 needles and thread. It is very portable, but also a bit difficult and it does require paying close attention.

Both of these projects are potential entries in the Oregon State Fair next year. I missed the deadline for entries this year, but when I visited the Fair I could see my work might win some ribbons. So that is a goal for 2007. I’m pretty much ready to go for the Football Season but I need to lay in some snacks (White Cheddar Popcorn, chips and homemade salsa) and set out a pitcher of sun tea. Who’s your team? I’ve been a 49-er fan all these years, but today’s team is very different from the Joe Montana years. Since Portland doesn’t have a team, I can root for whoever looks good on any given day. So…Are you ready for some football? YES!

Friday, September 08, 2006


Out on my refurbished front porch, I watch the Harvest Moon rising up above the treetops. I learned it is called that because in September it rises lower in the sky, seems bigger, and stays bright longer, and thus gave farmers more time to bring in the harvest. By the same token, the October Hunter’s Moon gave more light in which to bring home the autumn kill.

The porch is looking great with all the damaged plants repotted and more plants added, along with a string of prayer flags and a frog wall plaque my friend Ann gave me for my birthday. Timely since I am under the spell of Frog totem spirit. Now that the neighborhood kids are back in school, the day time hours are peaceful and I can return to my little sanctuary and read and relax with my second cup of coffee and enjoy the awesome weather we have been having.

Fall is coming though, and leaves are skittering down the street. Pine cones falling all over the yard. A touch of crispness in the air, and a different cast to the sunlight. I have taken down the black sun screen liners from the back of the curtains and opened up the house to sunshine. It’s dark by 8:00 p.m. now, and by the end of the month it will be dark at 7:00 p.m.

So we move along to the anniversary of my move here, and soon it will be the second October I have been in Oregon. Memories of Osceola fade fast, but it is comforting to have Down Home Musings to help me remember. Copies of the book are selling quite well, and the first printing is sold out and more have been ordered. If you want to see the Ozark town where I lived, you can visit

So another moon cycle begins as this moon wanes. Life goes on and next week the fall busyness begins in earnest. But tonight I am on my porch, enjoying the white geraniums reflecting the moonglow. Thinking of friends near and far who may be looking at the same moon from Grass Valley or the Antelope Valley or Paris or Arkansas or Minnesota or Missouri or Maine.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Rest In Peace

Winifred E. Barnes Anderson
February 21, 1895 – September 7, 1957

Gone too soon. Still remembered. Always loved.

My mother died two weeks after my 20th birthday. She was only 62. Her courageous battle with colon cancer lasted 18 months. She left behind a legacy of love and caring for all things living. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor-Free Zone

If you ordered my book, you will have already read about my annual celebration of (Surcease From) Labor Day, the time when I rejoice in my retirement and freedom from the bonds of employment. I am sure there are some (and you may be among them) who enjoy working and have chosen a meaningful career that satisfies the soul and no doubt makes the world a better place in the process. But for an awful lot of folks (and I am among them) jobs are drudgery to be performed in exchange for a paycheck in order to pay the rent and put food on the table.

This time of my life would be a time of unrestrained joy and exuberant cheering, except for the fact that those very same drudge jobs didn’t do much toward providing me with income in my old age. And so…I still need some extra bucks and I am therefore always looking for the part-time job that will allow me to continue enjoying some free time while still adding a drop or two to the bank account.

For two years, back in Missouri, I worked for H&R Block doing income taxes. A very intense stint of fifteen weeks of long hours and people-intensive work. And then it’s over and there’s a big hunk of money in the bank to tide things over till the next go round. It wasn’t an option for me last year, as Oregon requires a license I don’t have. But I am planning on getting that license this Fall and I will probably be doing taxes once again. Maybe at Jackson Hewitt this time.

I did some work for Friends of the Columbia Gorge last May and June and I may be called back there in the future although that is not guaranteed. I applied a couple of other places…a yarn shop, a community college. But nothing materialized.

So I am reconciled to needing some employment, but I intend to keep it to a minimum and to continue to live most of my days in a LABOR-FREE ZONE.