Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oidhche Na Challuinne

Hogmanay! [hag-mê-'ney] That’s the Scottish New Year celebration that dates back to the pagan practices in the early years. In Scotland, the holiday begins at midnight on December 31st and is celebrated on January 1st and 2nd. Scotland’s great poetic voice, Robbie Burns, wrote the song we all sing at midnight, Auld Lang Syne. Here are the words for you to sing along as you welcome 2007.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And surely you'll be your pint stoup,

And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae ran about the braes,

And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn

Frae morning sun til dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,

And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right gude willie waugh,
For auld lang syne!

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Legend of the Turtle

My son Scott gave me the most wonderful turtle gift for Christmas…a beautiful Pendleton wool blanket. Pendleton Woolen Mills studied the beliefs and legends behind the Indian designs of tribes native to Oregon and these inspired the patterns of their woolen blankets. Along with my blanket came a tag with the Native American Turtle Legend. Thank you, Scott, for this gift that will be used and cherished.

The Creation

Before this world came to be, there lived in the Sky-World an ancient chief. In the center of his land grew a beautiful tree which had four white roots stretching to each of the four directions: North, south, East and West. From that beautiful tree, all good things grew.

Then it came to be the beautiful tree was uprooted and the youthful wife of the ancient chief fell through the hole it made in the Sky-World. As she fell, she grabbed a handful of seeds she from the tree.

Far below there was only water and water creatures who looked up as they swam.

Someone comes,” said the duck. “We must make room for her.”

The great turtle swam up from his place in the depths. “There is room on my back,” the great turtle said.

“But there must be early where she can stand,” said the duck, and so he dove beneath the waters, but he could not reach the bottom.

“I shall try,” said the beaver, and he too dove, but could not reach the bottom.

Finally the muskrat tried. He dove as deeply as he could, swimming until his lungs almost burst. With one paw he touched the bottom, and came up with a tiny speck of earth clutched in his paw.

“Place the earth on my back,” the great turtle said, and as they spread the tiny speck of earth it grew larger and larger and larger until it became the whole world.

Then two swans flew up, and between their wings they caught the woman who fell from the sky. They brought her gently down to the earth where she dropped her handful of seeds from the Sky-World.

It was then the first plants grew and life on the new earth began.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Go Green in 2007

Working on your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Why not include one for the planet? Take a look at the Go Green list proposed by Laurie David, producer of Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. If each of us does just one of these ten things, we can join thousands of other like-minded folks in doing our part to stop global warming. Here are the ten ideas in short form:

1 – Use compact fluorescent bulbs.
2 – Use a Nalgene bottle for water instead of those little “disposable” plastic ones
3 – Pull the plug on electronics and chargers when not in use.
4 – Take shorter showers.
5 – Buy a hybrid car.
6 – Create idle-free zones.
7 – Buy local food products
8 – Bring cloth or string bags to the market.
9 – Put on a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat.
10 – Use recycled paper.

For more detailed information and to sign up for the Virtual March, go to

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

This is a holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom on the day after Christmas. There are disparate theories as to the origins of the term. However, the common thread is that it is a day to give small gifts or stipends to those who have served you during the year. One version claims that in medieval times, the serfs and their families all showed up at the castle to receive a box of goods. Later…in Elizabethan England, tradespeople came to the back door of the manor and the goods became something akin to bonuses taking the form of coins. Either way…the items were in a box, hence the name.

Who now, in my life today, would be the tradespeople who would come to my door? The mail carrier who delivers the mail at a different time every day? The mysterious Oregonian delivery person who comes in the night and is never seen? The UPS guy who knocks and runs and tries to be out of sight before I get to the door? The A-A Rite roofer who fixed the leak but spoke only Spanish and therefore could not communicate the estimate? The greeter at Wal-Mart who lives up the street and is way older than I am?

Maybe the vet? The dentist? The guys at Jiffy Lube? The checker at Safeway? The salesclerk at Craft Warehouse? The librarians at the local branch? The teller at the bank? The operator on the Max train to downtown? Unseen and unknown but very competent persons at the utilities like Comcast, Verizon, PG&E, and Waste Management? All the ODOT workers in orange vests? The webmaster at Google?

It is certainly an interesting exercise to sit down and think about all the people who make my life easier and whose names, for the most part, I do not know. People I will never meet. People who work at odd hours in all kinds of weather. Although I cannot do it personally by handing them a box, I do thank them for their service.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

A time for drawing close to family and for thinking of friends near and far, and remembering the gifts of love and friendship that have been given all year. I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. I am fortunate to have a cozy, safe, warm home close to my children, a part-time job to help meet the expenses of retirement, skills to create beautiful things, and (so far) all my senses functioning and all my wits about me. I wish you all a happy holiday season. Tonight I will send special thoughts to each of you.

And don’t forget…the quicker you fall asleep, the quicker Santa will come!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice 2006

Winter Solstice begins here on the West Coast when the sun enters Capricorn at 4:22 p.m. PST on December 21st. Depending on how far east you might be (in Paris, for instance) the date might be different. Officially it’s 0:22 GMT on December 22nd.

Today I plan to go at 4:22 p.m. to St. Luke the Physician Episcopal Church to walk the newly installed replica of the Chartres Labyrinth. It is outdoors with an awesome view of Mt. Hood (on a clear day). I’ll stop at Starbuck’s for my favorite cup of peppermint mocha to take along. When the labyrinth is an outside one, it is a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and Mother Earth, allowing the walker to realize how sacred & special everything is.

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol representing wholeness that is over 3,500 years old. When this symbol is transferred to the ground and walked with purpose, it becomes a metaphor for the journey of life. It is a single path to our center, the inner self; a slowing down and listening, then returning to the outer world feeling renewed and rejuvenated. The stillness of the experience opens us to creativity and new ideas.

At this time, I will be thinking of my many friends across the country and the world and how much I treasure our special friendship. I wish each of you peace and joy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The most important survival tool is the mind.” To understand some of the factors involved in coming through alive, I recommend Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales, one of the best books about the subject that I have read.

Here are some other books about those who made it and some about those who perished:

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Alive by Piers Paul Read

Climb by Anatoli Boukreev

North to the Pole by Will Steger

The Survival of Jan Little by John Man

Tracks by Robyn Davidson

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lives Lost

Today I remember my friends and climbing partners, Sandy Miller and Kathryn “Tap” Rees, who died in a mountaineering accident on the Little Matterhorn in Rocky Mountain National Park on July 31, 1953. We were a party of eight women. We had spent the summer climbing the “high peaks” in the Park and felt ourselves experienced and well-trained.

My friend Tap was directly in front of me. We were, perhaps, hurrying a bit to get to the summit before a storm closed in. Suddenly Tap slipped while we were crossing a steep field of scree (talus) and tumbled 150 feet to the bottom of the slope. The two co-leaders, Joan Brown and Gretchen DeGroot, determined she had died instantly.

They decided the slope was unstable and the rest of the climbers would remain in place under Joan’s direction while Gretchen and the strongest climber, Sandy Miller, would hike out for rescue help. Gretchen later stated that on the way down she and Sandy disagreed about the route to the trailhead, and they separated. Gretchen made it to the ranger station. Sandy slipped on a snow slope and tumbled to her death.

Five of us huddled on the mountain as the storm came in and drenched us. The rocks became even more slippery as they got wet. When a team of rescuers finally arrived, it took us five hours to descend and we traveled the last stretch in the dark. When we arrived at the ranger station, we learned that Sandy was lost in the wilderness. We called our families and then ate a meal in silence. We wanted to wait for the Search and Rescue climbers to return with Tap’s body and news of Sandy, but they were unable to carry out the recovery due to darkness and weather. They did not find Sandy’s body for two days.

Having risked my own life, and having lost two close friends, I can better understand the story that has unfolded on Mt. Hood this past week.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Because it is there…

Those of us who live in these little communities at the foot of Mt. Hood forge a relationship with it that is hard to explain. We are astounded by this beautiful and awesome creation of nature, but at the same time a bit fearful of the power it has.

This morning the weather is clear, cold and sunny and Mt. Hood gleams in its grandeur. It has a magical draw for climbers who cannot resist the pull of the summit. This past week three men set forth on a challenging and perilous climb. They knew full well the dangers involved but they had planned carefully and had confidence they could overcome any problems.

What they could not overcome was happenstance and the weather. Yesterday the body of one of the climbers was found in a snow cave about 300’ below the summit. It is speculated that they summited, but then ran into trouble. Many of the local climbers, experts, news reporters, even families have ideas about what happened.

I think they summited and then dug a snow cave for all three of them when the weather shifted suddenly. That is the first cave the rescuers found Sunday. Then the climbers left for a descent and something happened to Kelly James, an accident or sudden onset of illness. The two other stronger climbers dug a "quick and dirty" snow cave to protect him and set out for help.

It was from that cave that Kelly called his family a week ago. The other two climbers have not been heard from since. Although the sheriff is continuing to hold out hope and calling the search a rescue mission, it is likely that the two men met with disaster either buried in an avalanche or falling to their deaths in a crevasse.

The mountain has taken another toll and we all grieve for the climbers and their families. From the warmth of our living rooms it is sometimes difficult to comprehend why these men risked their lives for such an ascent. But George Mallory, who paid the ultimate price on Mt. Everest, explained the answer to us: “Because it is there.”

Friday, December 15, 2006

Weather Report from The Hideaway

From personal observation: The trees are still standing. The power is still on. The roof is not leaking.

From TV coverage: Trees have fallen and blocked roads across the region. Over 200,000 households are out of power. Many homes have damaged roofs from falling trees and debris.

The search for the lost climbers on Mt. Hood is unable to proceed due to severe weather. There are winds up to 114mph on the mountain. (Only 65mph here in Wood Village.) No Anderson possessions are decorating the park, but the contents of the neighbor’s carport have taken flight. While the dogs don’t mind the rain, they are not fond of the high wind. Buddy pees at the foot of the stairs and dashes back in.

Blustery weather provides a great excuse for staying home in my jammies & Uggs and enjoying a lazy day. Which is what I am doing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Hot Shower

The winter of ’94-95 I was living “off the grid” on Wild Pig Ridge in the wilds of the back country of Tehama County in California on the edge of Mendocino National Forest. My place had no running water…in fact, no water at all. I had to make the fifty mile trek to town to bring back enough water to meet my basic needs. (I do mean basic.) That was the year I shaved my head to save on shampooing.

The weather that winter was much the same as the weather that is pounding the Northwest this year. Hard, unrelenting storms with torrential rain & flooding & high winds. On top of The Ridge, I hunkered down in my 21' travel trailer. Babe and Squeaker and I huddled together for warmth, and peanut butter sustained us. Knitting by flickering candlelight, I produced hundreds of little “pot holders.” I stayed in touch with my kids and friends by writing Vibes.

That was also a time to skip most of the hygiene practices of civilization and just stay warm. I totally understood the down-home custom of putting on the “union suit” in the fall and taking it off in the spring. Taking care of sustenance, changing propane tanks, getting firewood were tasks that drenched the body and soul. Coming in from outside, I wanted nothing more than a hot shower. Instead…I made do with two or three cups of water dribbled over the important parts.

My road was not paved and trips to town were hampered by the weather. But I was forced to venture out once in awhile to refill propane tanks, get water and provisions, and maybe visit a laundromat. The small town had a library in a retired Safeway that was my salvation. Once a month I set out and often came home in fog so heavy I had to “drive by Braille.”

That was twelve years ago but I can still feel the bone-chilling cold and remember trying to stay upright in the wind as I went to the woodpile. Today, as I flick the thermostat to activate central heat, I think of trying time after time after time to light the cantankerous pilot light to keep the heater and little refrigerator and stove functional. Or…failing that…building and tending a fire, using the fast rushing creek to keep food cold, and eating peanut butter which does not require refrigeration or cooking.

So this morning…warm and sheltered in my cozy Hideaway, with my new stove in the kitchen, and TV to entertain me, electric lights to read by, and high speed internet to communicate, I am blessed and grateful. I also rejoice in being able to take that long-coveted hot shower.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Dollhouse

We were living in the little house on Washington Street in Waldo during WWII from the time I was four until I was eight. Those were the Santa Claus Years and a time of magical childhood.

On a day in December, Mother and I would get all dressed up and walk from our house through the passageway by Broadway Methodist Church and catch the streetcar at the 74th Street stop on our way on our Great Christmas Shopping Adventure. We rode along through the southwest part of town, past the Plaza with the bright lights on all the buildings, up the Main Street hill, then down past the Liberty Memorial and Union Station. We got off at Petticoat Lane and began our trips through the stores.

First Harzfeld’s, then across the street to Woolf Bros. Back to Main and up to Kline’s and the Jones Store. Then over to Grand and a stop at Wolfermann’s for lunch (ham on egg roll and a milkshake). On to the final stop…Emery Bird Thayer. Laughing Santa in the window at ground level and fairyland on the 6th floor. The mezzanine was a place to stop and rest, rearrange the packages, and take stock. Mother loved to dash into the needlepoint shop for a project. Then my father would meet us as he left work in the Dierk’s Building and help ferry the packages home on the streetcar.

The year that I was seven, there was a very large package that we left at my father’s office for him to bring home later. He tried to sneak it in but I found it hidden in the closet. One day when my mother left me alone in the house while she went for stamps for the Christmas cards, I peeked at the present. A dollhouse! My little girl dream. Just what I wanted. I was so excited.

From that moment until Christmas morning I held the secret close to my heart and every night when I went to bed I would dream of playing with it. On the big day I rushed to the living room to look under the tree. No big package there. I can remember looking around thinking it might be in the den or somewhere else in the house. I opened a few packages and I remember a scarf and some mittens and a book. But no dollhouse. The day came and went. No dollhouse.

This stands out in my memory as my first heart-crushing disappointment and feeling of betrayal. I never mentioned this to my parents. Later…after they were long dead…my sister told me that was the year that my father did not get the Christmas bonus he was expecting and that it had saddened them immeasurably to have to take the dollhouse back to the store.

It saddens me now to think of those years when times were tight and my parents tried very hard to give me a happy Christmas. But that disappointment was a great life lesson for me. Probably more valuable than getting the dollhouse would have been. Throughout my life, I have endured some other unrealized dreams and weathered them better for it. But if I have a grand-daughter, I am getting her a dollhouse. I still want one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lost on Mt. Hood

Today comes news that three climbers are lost on Mt. Hood and a severe storm is making search efforts almost impossible. Freezing snow, ice, winds to 80 mph, and a high danger of avalanche are keeping rescue teams grounded. As with the San Francisco couple lost in the mountains in southern Oregon, there was a time delay in reporting that they were missing. They had left last Wednesday and were to be back on Friday. Sunday night they were reported missing. They are from out of state and none of them have climbed Hood before.

There is just no end to the people who underestimate the power of winter in Oregon. While attention was focused on James Kim, a mother from eastern Oregon was returning home from Portland when she lost control of her car and ended up dead in a ditch. Weather can change quickly, severe storms come in fast, nothing looks the same in the snow covered landscape. There’s still a high wind watch at the coast (not the time for sightseeing) and heavy snows are coming tonight for The Gorge and Mt. Hood.

Here at The Hideaway we had more of the torrential roof pounding rain but the roof held and we are warm and cozy inside. The dogs were willing to forego their walk. I am glad at this point in my life to have given up the search activities. I am glad I am not out on the mountain tonight. She is spectacularly beautiful but dangerously deadly.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Top Ten Things You Need for Winter Hiking in Oregon

10. Raincoat
Not water-resistant, not water-repellant, but water-PROOF. Try Columbia Titanium

9. Warm Layers
The #1 danger in Oregon winters is hypothermia (from being cold and wet for too long). Wool works wonders.

8. Thermos or Water Bottle
Fluid for hydration is very important. Don’t skimp.

7. Map (in plastic bag)
Not all who wander are lost, but those without a map might be.

6. Flashlight
It gets dark sooner than you think. Try the wind-up kind that doesn’t need batteries.

5. Food
Energy bars, holiday cookies, nuts. Avoid sandwiches and bananas that can get smashed.

4. Sturdy Boots
No flip flops. No tennies. And extra dry socks if you get wet.

3. First Aid Stuff
You won’t need it (of course) but someone you meet on the trail may.

2. Basic Emergency Gear
Knife, fire starter (aka matches), compass, cell phone, whistle, survival blanket.

It’s Oregon!

Reprinted from Willamette Week 12/6/06

Friday, December 08, 2006

In My Opinion

The following article was submitted to the Commentary page in The Oregonian. I doubt they will publish it as it is an unpopular opinion.

The saga of the Kim family from San Francisco who were stranded in the Siskiyou Mountains in Oregon makes me angry. In my opinion, this is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. The death of the father is a sad ending to the story. The father is being called a “hero” for trying to save his family, and the wife and children are praised for surviving. However, from a wilderness survival standpoint, a series of poor decisions led to an event that holds a lesson for everyone. Mother Nature is not gentle, and the wilderness in winter is not a place for unprepared city dwellers. What could the Kim family have done differently?

They could have changed their plans and stayed comfortably in a motel in a populated town on the Interstate. They could have followed the directions they had received earlier and heeded the warnings given them. After they were on the mountain road, they could have realized they were in uninhabited wilderness and turned back sooner.

Once lost and stuck, they could have made a survival plan while they were competent to think clearly. They could have begun immediately to signal for help. They could have used their fire starting ability immediately to set signal fires.

The father could have stayed with the car instead of setting out on foot looking for help. He could have dressed more warmly. He could have fashioned a hat (critical for survival) out of a piece of clothing or a baby diaper. He could have marked his trail to be able to return to the car as he had promised to do. He could have stayed on the road instead of going down into a ravine where he would not be visible to searchers and where the temperature was colder. He could have eaten instead of abstaining and weakening his ability to help his family. He could have crawled into a sheltered space and stayed warm instead of exposing himself to the elements and thus to the fatal hypothermia.

He could have purchased a basic survival kit for his car. A good thing for any road trip even one on a major freeway. It is exactly when you think you don’t or won’t need them, that emergency items can save your life. He could have remembered searchers would be looking for his family. In their car. On a road.

During the same period the Kim family was lost, a man stranded on Bainbridge Island in Washington survived for two weeks. He attributed his survival to having had a sleeping bag and a hat, and staying with the car.

Kati Kim and the children were found alive in the car. James Kim was found dead from exposure and hypothermia. So pray for the soul of James Kim, but take a lesson from all this. Do not venture into unfamiliar territory in winter unless you are prepared. If you have an emergency, stay warm, stay dry, stay with the car.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Requested Repeat

Remember Pearl Harbor

I was four years old on December 7th, 1941 but I remember the day very clearly. It was a Sunday and my father had taken me to the park as he always did on that day of the week. I had a green hoop I liked to roll on the vast expanse of grass in Gilham Park. But on that particular day there was something extra, something special. Santa Claus came by on the streetcar that ran along the top of the hill, and good little boys and girls waited at the stop to tell him their wish for a Christmas present. We had been out in the cold for some time before the trolley came, and by the time we headed home we were both cold and looking forward to a cup of hot cocoa.

When we walked in the door of the apartment building, my mother was standing on the landing. Dressed in her Sunday navy blue polka-dot dress and pearls, she had her hand to her throat and a horrified look on her face. “Oh Clarence,” she said. “They have bombed Pearl Harbor.” My father bounded up the stairs and into the apartment where Mother had the radio on and chairs pulled up close beside it. They sat there in silence listening with rapt attention to the news that the country was at war.

To me it meant only that the hot cocoa was forgotten and that I had to be very quiet and not disturb them. I sat on the Oriental rug at their feet, coloring and hearing the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking to the nation. The phone rang and it was my sister calling from KU in Lawrence. She had found a ride and she was coming home to be with us at this time of tragedy.

All these years later, that day lingers in my mind. The cold winter chill of our outing, the smell of pot roast cooking in the kitchen, the rasp of Roosevelt’s voice, the color green of the sweater my sister wore. I still have my mother’s pearls. And a copy of the Kansas City Star my father saved from December 8th, 1941.

On December 8th, we listened to the radio and heard the President give his now famous speech that began, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

“A date that will live in infamy.” And in my memory. Remember Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another Employment Malfunction

Last Friday was my Last Day at The Wright Way, a home-based business that furnishes small toys to places like Sylvan Learning Center for them to use as rewards for student achievements. The lure of the job was that the inventory was small and lightweight. Job was to be pulling orders, putting little stickers on items, packing them in a box. No dress code. Listen to music or watch TV. Eat, drink coffee, whatever. 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. No learning curve, no training, no interviews, no paperwork, no bureaucracy, no cost of clothes, no transportation costs, no pressure. Hah! In her dreams.

As is often the case with not-quite-legit operations, the owner turned out to be a nut case who wanted a personal maid. Her house was a pit with dirty clothes and used dishes everywhere and an overwhelming smell of stinky feet. (Due in part to her obsession with everyone taking off their shoes.) She wanted me to clean out her garage, vacuum, go through mountains of unopened mail going back to last August, and…this was the clincher…look at photos of men’s penises sent to her in response to her internet ad for a love match (I passed on that one). She changed my hours and the rate of pay, and wanted me to carry heavy boxes and transport them to UPS for shipping. She kept her house the temperature of a wine cellar, wanted me to listen to Barry Manilow, and talked on the phone constantly.

Please picture this old lady with arthritis, dressed for the ski slopes but in flimsy bedroom slippers, running up and down stairs in response to her boss’ summons. By the end of the day I was stiff and frozen and weary and angry and generally thinking the pitiful sum she was promising to pay me was NOT worth it. So three weeks after I started, I quit. I grabbed my last check and ran to the bank and cashed it before I e-mailed her that I was through and not coming back. Adios *%%##.

So now I am retired again. This is my natural state and I’m glad to be back to it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Down Home

December was a time of festive events down home in Osceola and I am nostalgic for the wonderful country celebrations that I enjoyed so much when I lived there. On the first weekend of December, there was the Christmas Craft Fair at the high school featuring great handcrafted items, food, and toe-tapping bluegrass music. If you worked a booth (and most of us did for Garden Club or one of the other organizations) you saw just about everyone you knew by the end of the day. And you came home with some great decorations like the 4-H carefully-raised poinsettias or beautiful handmade bentwood wreaths. Two years ago, my little knitted cotton dishcloths ($1 apiece) raised $24 for the Garden Club.

The next weekend would be the Holiday Open House at my friend Gayl’s Evening Shade Farms. Another craft event with handmade soaps and other decorative items, outstanding snacks and soup, and stimulating conversation. Again…you would see many of your friends there. Early in the month, the Garden Club had its Christmas Party with gifts and a cookie exchange. Plates of cookies were assembled to take to shut-ins, and delivering them was one of my joys.

As the month progressed, there was a trip to Kansas City to see the Plaza Lights and then on another weekend, a road trip to Springfield with a good friend for some gift shopping and lunch at Olive Garden. Most years there was also a trip to the Nature Conservancy’s Wah-Kon-Ta Prairie to chase after the elusive Prairie Chickens. And on the way out Highway 82, there was the best part of the trip in the cold and dark…the Lights of Tiffin. In this tiny town, every home and structure, every outbuilding, tool shed, and hen house, is decked with colored lights. As you approach over the last rise, the rainbow glow lights up the sky. Something to behold!

Sunday nights gathering at the home of my friends Ruth and Larry for prayers and lighting the Advent candles. And for Solstice, visiting my friends Walter and Yolanda in their converted historical building downtown. And every day walking with the dog and seeing Larry Bray’s and all the other decorated homes on Congress Hill. The town sponsored a Decorating Contest with prizes and some folks went all out. And waking up in the morning to a blanket of white fluffy snow. I had a “Storm Cupboard” where I kept provisions if I was not able to get out. That happened sometimes as the snowplow bermed up piles across my gate so I couldn’t open it. I was happy to stay home!

Then Christmas Eve and traveling with my friends Ruth and Larry to a church service in Sedalia, slipping and sliding over icy roads with a full moon lighting the way. The hard part was being separated from my family, especially that first year I lived there which was the first time in my life I was alone for Christmas. Most of you know that is when I got a little Black Lab puppy on Christmas Eve. Other years that I lived there, at least one of my children was there to celebrate with me.

As I look back now, I treasure those memories of December in the Ozarks. When I feel a little lost in the impersonal hustle and bustle of the metro area here, I remember those comforting times when I lived at Terrapin Station.