Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Live from East County

The TV weather person says “Live from East County. Very dangerous elements.” Combination of wind, rain, ice and cold, cold, cold. Vicious. As always, instead of listening to the TV, I just need to open my door to determine the weather. The dogs and I barely made it home from our walk with the wind blowing us sideways and sliding on the ice. My little home is tucked down and more or less sheltered, but just half a block away around the back side of Elderberry Circle you get the full blast of it. We are not deterred. Press on regardless!

Last night the temp on my deck dipped below 32 degrees for the first time this season. But I have not yet donned the Cabela coat from Missouri that is designed for temps 20 below. The weather conditions are, however, such that those who work outside (like the gas jockeys) say “Thank god for Carhartt!” And I say "Thank god for Uggs."

As November ends on such a harsh note, we are looking forward to December and celebrating the holidays here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a time for family and we will all gather together this weekend for a tour of the Pittock Mansion and lattes after. Also, this weekend, I will be recognized for my community contributions at the Mayor’s Dinner. On the 11th, we are all going to see Amos Lee at the Aladdin. The 16th is Living Earth’s Solstice Celebration and the 22nd is our Family Solstice Gathering. We will all be at Andy & Laura’s for Christmas Day.

In case you’ve been having some stumbling blocks, you will be pleased to know Mercury Retrograde ended November 17th. Please note that all the above events will occur regardless of the weather. So…embrace the storm.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The First Thanksgiving (That I Remember)

It was war time, those winters of the early 1940’s when I was a child. We lived in the little house at 7328 Washington Street in Waldo, not too far from the end-of-the-line for the streetcar. My father took it back and forth to work downtown in the Dierks Building. Mother was a housewife (even wearing Nellie Don housedresses!) and I think things were economically a bit tight. My sister was married and living in New York so it was just the three of us, eking out our lives as the war raged on two fronts.

The Thanksgiving I remember was not during the first winter after the attack on Pearl Harbor when patriotism flared brightly, nor the second winter when people were willingly making the sacrifices asked of them. But later…1944, I think. Gas was rationed and tires were difficult to replace so my parents drove the car rarely and carefully, only on special occasions.

My mother was still grieving the death of her mother, my grandmother, a few weeks after Pearl Harbor. She wanted, more than anything, to spend Thanksgiving with her Aunt Addie, her mother’s sister who lived in Wilder, Kansas. After much discussion over cups of coffee at the kitchen table, my parents decided to get the 1936 Plymouth out of the garage and make the drive over narrow, hilly back roads to the ancient tilting farmhouse where Aunt Addie lived.

For a child of seven, it was a trip to the end of the earth. Much ado was made about what I should wear and eventually I ended up in a plaid dress under a scratchy snow suit with leggings and a hat with a chin strap. In a paper grocery bag, my mother packed some items for my entertainment. A book to read (I believe it featured a little girl named Honeybunch) was essential for the car ride. In a shoe box were scissors, colored paper, scraps of fabric, paste, and cardboard to keep me busy once we arrived.

The meal was at Cousin Cora Lee’s house (a stone’s throw from Aunt Addie’s) and the place was crowded with family. Aunt Addie, of course, and Cora Lee lived in Wilder. Aunt Ethel, an unmarried school teacher came from Topeka. Aunt Nadine and her husband Uncle George who was a minister made a long drive from Baldwin, Kansas bringing their grown daughter, Dorothy Fay. Cora Lee’s son Lawrence and his wife Wilma were there with their three children Mary Beth, Brian, and Gloria who all lived in a trailer in Bonner Springs and walked the two miles as they did not have a car. Ten adults at the big table and four of us at the children’s table.

While the women cooked and the men sat smoking and talking about the war, the Baker children ran wild outdoors and I played paper dolls on the rag rug on the floor of the bedroom. My mother was very critical of the behavior of her cousin Lawrence’s children. So I was separated from the bad influence and set to making my own dolls from the materials she had brought for that purpose. I still remember the smells coming from the big country kitchen, the fire in the wood stove and the circles of increasing chill as you moved away from it.

Like every meal eaten during war time, every morsel was to be devoured and a clean plate sent to the kitchen after the dinner was over. The meal was fried chicken (from Aunt Addie’s hen house), potatoes, beets and turnips from the root cellar, and vegetables “put up” during the bounty of summer. Biscuits and gravy and my mother’s famous cranberry salad. Mince pie for dessert. Or pumpkin. Or apple. Whipped cream from the milk cow out back in the barn. A country menu of sturdy food for folks who produced most of it. I believe the flour and the berries were all that were purchased in a store. Today my Aunt Addie’s farm would be called “sustainable.” Back then, she called it “everthing I need.” Not much “store bought.”

After the coffee and pie and washing and drying the dishes, the family continued to sit around the table talking of the war and Roosevelt and rationing and all were interested in how Frances was doing living in New York where they had blackouts and shortages and no farms nearby to provide for their needs.

Somewhere around 7:00 p.m. the sleek silver Santa Fe Chief roared through town on the way to California. The signal that it was time to start the journey home. Aunt Addie filled bags with jars of fruits and vegetables from her orchards and gardens for us to take home. She promised to come to Kansas City for a visit, but Lawrence would have to drive her. She was in her 80s then and had never owned a car but drove her horse and buggy to Bonner Springs when she needed to go which was about twice a year.

We drove back to Kansas City in the dark, late in the day, satiated with food and groggy from the intense family experience. As we drove through the night, a few snowflakes began to fall and by the time we reached our little house, the lawns were white and gleaming. That would be sixty two years ago and I can still remember it so clearly. It is my earliest Thanksgiving memory and one that still stands out as a time of family and love and warmth and bountiful food. And how, despite the dark years of the war, we knew we had each other.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday

Well…you can tell I belong to another generation. I thought “Black Friday” was the day in October 1929 that the stock market crashed. But some Google research tells me that was Black Tuesday. I also, for some reason, associate the name with Good Friday. But more research tells me the color of mourning is Purple. So I guess Black Friday is so named because it puts the retailer’s cash flow in the black.

Whatever…I am not sure how a Friday in November came to be the Mercantile Madness Shopping Day After Thanksgiving Extravaganza and Parking Lot Nightmare. Were you out and about? Not me. I was home sleeping in and having leftovers and lolling around in my sweats watching football on TV. I have never considered shopping a recreational activity nor anything even approaching enjoyable.

The sense of the whole scene escapes me. I am offended by retailers (big box and local both) to entice folks into spending more than they can afford on gifts no one will remember by this time next year. I do enjoy the Holiday Bazaars with all the handmade items, but lately those prices have made them out of range for someone like me.

Now this morning I ventured out into a few stores to buy dog food and some yarn and a blue pen. It took me twenty minutes to get out of the feed store. The check-out girl at Target just stared at my little blue pen and asked where my cart was. It’s all too much. I still opt for the handmade homemade gifts. Which is why I have a lot of knitting to do so I’d better get going.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Ohenton Kariwahtekwen"

The Iroquois Thanksgiving Address
Greetings to the Natural World
The People
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.
The Earth Mother
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.
The Waters
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.
The Fish
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.
The Plants
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.
The Food Plants
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.
The Medicine Herbs
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.
The Animals
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
The Trees
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.
The Birds
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.
The Four Winds
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.
The Thunderers
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.
The Sun
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.
Grandmother Moon
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.
The Stars
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.
The Enlightened Teachers
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.
The Creator
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....
Now our minds are one.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Holidays Begin

Suddenly the neighborhood is naked. The leaves on all the deciduous trees are on the ground, bermed up against my fence and strewn about the street, and the branches above are bare and skeleton-like. The storms of the past few days brought high winds and now all vestiges of fall are vanished. It seemed like a surprise when I went out with the dogs today as there have been several days when the weather seemed too fierce to venture forth.

The season shifts to the inside now as we begin the celebrations to keep warmth and light alive in the long, cold nights. Gone are the sunscreen curtains and that dinnertime setting sun is no longer a threat. Now the shades are drawn early and the lights turned on to brighten the rooms. A knitted afghan drapes the back of each piece of furniture, ready to wrap around chilled shoulders or legs.

The new stove triggered a realignment of the kitchen counters and now the crockpot is out and waiting to make those soups I love in winter. The pantry is stocked with rice and pasta and other comfort foods. We are ready to draw in and wrap our house around us. Weary already of the pounding rain and piercing winds.

This Thursday my family will all gather here and we will sit down to dinner at the 126 year-old walnut dining room table extended to its full “banquet” length. Scott, Phil, Andy & Laura, Windy & Chris, and a friend of Chris’ from Japan will all bring covered dishes or desserts and I will cook the turkey. (My annual digression from my vegetarian diet.)

In addition to good food and drink, we will have music with all the guitars. And games, of course, like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and SceneIt. We’ll walk with the dogs and play with the cats and tease each other and rejoice in being together. Some will nap or slip off to read a chapter in a book. Laura and I will have our knitting. There will be football on TV and perhaps some good music on KBOO. This party, I should add, starts Thursday but lasts all weekend, with some people rolling out sleeping bags on the living room floor. Others will go back and forth, taking care of animals at home, or in some cases, working on Friday.

If you were here, you could join us. I wish every one of you the very best and I am thankful for all my wonderful friends near and far. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bacon Is Not A Vegetable Tour

Greetings all from Andy Graham...

"The time has come to play some music and begin my "Bacon is not a vegetable tour". Jim Bull has given me an opportunity to have the floor all night at Poor Richards from 8:00-12:00 pm Saturday December 9th 2006.
The other shows on the tour are still TBD but please stay tuned as I will keep you in the loop.

Please come and enjoy some fireside camaraderie of family and friends as well as good happy hour eats and beverages. I will be playing some original tunes from my "to be released" record and of course I will cover my favorite covers...

As always, I appreciate the support and would love to see you there if you can make it.

Happy Holidays,

Andy Graham

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


If you went to see it, you may not want to admit it. I understand that, as I went Sunday and I am reluctant to tell you I did. If you are not going to go see it, I understand that also, as it is quite controversial. So much so that there was an “analysis” of the movie on PBS this morning. I would say that the phrase “over-the-top” does not begin to describe it. It is way way beyond that. I am, to be honest, having a little trouble understanding its appeal. If someone has not already warned you, the nude fatty wrestling scene is pretty disgusting. If you haven’t heard of Borat, continue to enjoy your life in a bubble. This may be one of those “Let’s don’t and say we did” times.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kittens & Knittin’ Don’t Mix

About two weeks ago, I found a little lost dachshund running loose in the Safeway parking lot. It was pouring down rain and the little guy was pretty miserable. After a futile attempt to find the owner, I put him in my car and took him down to the Shelter (which is fortunately not too far from where I live). There was, of course, a wait there as he was processed and some paperwork to fill out and I had time to wander around. I should have known better!

So that night I could not get this sweet little kitten out of my mind. She kept reaching through the cage trying to snag me as I walked by. So I went back the next morning and adopted her and brought her home. Hopefully she will be a companion for Lenny and help keep him young just as he helped Rocky in past years.

She is a “dilute tortoiseshell” mostly grey with splashes of orange and white. A really sweet face and loving disposition. But she is a kitten and very lively and energetic and curious and into everything. Already she has tee-peed the house, gotten into my knitting bag, hidden all the pens and pencils, knocked everything off the bathroom counter, left footprints in the dust on the shelves, and just generally wreaked havoc. Her name is Skye Louise Anderson.

As I say each time…this is the LAST one.

P.S. The dog's owner showed up and was thrilled to find his little doxie.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

Please observe a moment of silence at the 11th Hour on the 11th Day of the 11th Month to honor World War I veterans…

My father:
Clarence “Andy” Anderson
1896 – 1964
He was an “Observer” for the Army Air Force as it was believed that deaf people had exceptional eyesight. He was stationed in England.

My uncle:
Philip Sheldon Barnes
1892 – 1946
He was an aviator with the US Army and stationed in France. He was classified as a “pursuit pilot” after training in Riverside, California.

Commemorative bricks were laid in the Walk of Honor at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri at a Recognition Ceremony May 30, 2005. I was a guest of honor at the event. Among the memorabilia I collected for the occasion is a newspaper page with photos of a parade to observe “Armistice Day” (the former name for Veteran’s Day) down Main Street in Kansas City dated November 11, 1929.

I also have a newspaper clipping from December 5, 1918 about the arrival on American soil of five thousand troops, among them my uncle. The article ends with the note that the transport ships were met at their piers by Red Cross workers who distributed refreshments and cigarettes to the men.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Still Fighting the Weather

This area is being hit hard and the rain is relentless and unending. Yesterday afternoon, the professional roofers arrived and made “emergency repairs.” It is no longer raining in the dining room. It was nice to kick back and listen to the election results instead of listening for drips.

The dogs have missed their walks but the parks are mostly closed and even in my neighborhood there are too many giant puddles and drooping branches for safe passage.

The yard is a mess with blown branches and leaves and trash and pine cones. Big cleanup lurking in the future. But for now, I am hunkered down inside staying warm and dry and out of the traffic and wind and moisture.

The tide is turning in DC and here in Salem for the most part, although the candidate I supported from my district lost by about 200 votes. I think he was the only Democrat in the country to lose. The measures I worked on for parks and libraries both passed with substantial majorities. I’ll recycle the lawn signs tomorrow and then it is all over for now. Free time opening up.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Floods on the Columbia and Sandy Rivers

There is a Flood Warning for the Sandy River (about one mile from here) and a Flood Watch on the Columbia (half a mile). Johnson Creek (four miles away) is over its banks and into homes along its path. A State of Emergency has been declared for 18 counties in Washington including Clark County directly north of here across the river.

At The Hideaway, nothing is coming in at ground level, but some of the torrential rain is collecting in buckets in my dining room. And try getting roofing guys to come out at a time like this! They are backed up and overloaded and not much can be done until the weather abates which may be another day or two. My son climbed on the roof and slathered tar all over, but it is a difficult and not very effective procedure when it is raining like this. The stuff has to adhere before it washes away.

The storm is the Pineapple Express circling in on us from Hawaii on a trajectory that hit the coast in Washington first and is now pounding Northwest Oregon into a mushy muddy pulp. Driving is a mess and many events are cancelled. Roads are closed including Highway 101.

As I have mentioned before, Oregon votes by mail so only those who planned to drop off their ballots to save a stamp (that would be me) need venture forth on this gnarly day. Princess has a vet appointment (cluster those errands) at noon so we will gear up and brave the storm. The Pathfinder rides pretty high and has lethal windshield wipers so we will be okay.

We check the river levels regularly and listen to the TV special alerts. Paying attention to the surrounding areas is key as I learned on Tornado Watch days in Missouri. So hopefully we will get through this with minimal damage (so far only the seat on one of the dining room chairs has been damaged) and dry out eventually.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Home Improvement Day

The pain of childbirth, dimly remembered, was endured for just this day. My three sons are here installing my new stove. This was a planned event and step one of updating the kitchen. I am looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner on a fully functional appliance. We’ll be working clockwise around with a new counter, sink, dishwasher. The pantry stays.

While here, one son fixed the double pane window in my bedroom and now I will sleep warmer as it will slide back and forth on track. It’s the little things!

Unplanned is patching the leak in the roof. It is not a good idea to have a roof leak when living in Oregon. We have had torrential rain for over 24 hours. No ground flooding here, but a slow drip in the hallway indicates the roof is leaking somewhere. Hard to keep the plastic bucket under it as the dogs knock it every which way. So they are drawing straws to see who will make the trek up to examine the damage.

Not exactly the quiet Sunday of knitting on the couch that’s my usual routine. Nevertheless this is much appreciated and will eventually make the place more habitable. There’s method in their madness as we all do love their coming over for dinner.

We’re stopping for a break now and big bowls of Microwave Macaroni and Cheese. We had to skip the pancake breakfast though. No pouring the batter down the toaster for us! What a great blessing to have such terrific kids who have all these home improvement skills. Thanks guys!