Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Snow Advisory

Does it seem odd to cancel a snow trip to Mt. Hood because of a snow advisory? One would think that snow predictions would sound great to someone planning a snowshoe trip. But I decided to skip it today as driving up mountain roads with someone I don’t know sounds risky. Plus I do not want to have to get out and help put on chains. So I am home and watching “snow” in the form of rain fall on Wood Village. It is actually flakes in much of Portland, but not here. The mountain is hidden from view, and on the freeway cars go by with coverings of snow on their roofs. [Side note: I have always wondered why the plural of roof isn’t rooves!]

It’s back on the couch for me. I have four different knitting projects in progress, a book to read as well as a stack of new magazines (thanks to the folks who give me subscriptions!). Lentil soup is simmering in the crockpot and I’ll make corn bread later this afternoon. The animals are all in their “cinnamon roll” positions on their respective beds, warm and lazy just like me.

Truthfully, I am very glad I advised myself to stay home today.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The View from the Couch

I seem to be spending a lot of time on the couch these days, knitting and reading and napping through these chilly wet winter days. In the old days (pre-kitten) I opened the mini-blinds to let in light but I did not pull them up. However, Skye likes to sit on the table and keep track of the goings-on outside. She was sticking her little head through the slats so I started pulling the shades up to give her an unobstructed view. It also gave me an unobstructed view and I have found myself watching the wind and clouds and sky as well as the street activity and the bird visitors to the yard. I live on a corner and there is quite a bit of traffic going by. I can see the bank of mailboxes and watch neighbors stop to collect their mail.

Of course…whoever I can see can see me. I’ve always been one for privacy, so I find that a bit disconcerting. But it amazes me that no one who is driving or walking by seems to be looking in. When I walk by with the dogs, I can gaze in and see the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and the lamp on the table. If the TV is on, I can see the flicker. But it is not as public as I thought. So we leave the shades up all day and Sky monitors the neighborhood.

From the couch I can also see the hutch in what was supposed to be the dining room but is now the den. On the center counter, are cards and gifts from friends. I always seem to receive lots of cards and I love these reminders of friends who are thinking of me. If I turn slightly I am facing the shelves where my TV resides and which are adorned with flowers and other mementos.

The View from the Couch is pretty much all I need to keep myself entertained all day without even getting up except to refill my coffee cup.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scrubbing the Oatmeal Pot

Today is her birthday and a memory of my Mother entered my consciousness this morning. I could see her standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing the morning’s oatmeal pot. A chore she hated. But that did not deter her from fixing those steel cut oats every morning summer and winter. She put them to soak at night before she went to bed and then rose early to fix what my father called “porridge” before he left for work. By the time I got up, the oatmeal had congealed in the pot and I would squash the still slightly warm lump and mash butter into it and sprinkle it with brown sugar or pour syrup on it. Later my mother would have her breakfast using the “slice it and fry it” technique for the remaining stone cold blob. That bowl of oatmeal was ready and waiting every morning when I came up from the barn and I didn’t know until I left for college that not all folks started their days that way.

I get up early and fix it for myself these days. It still makes me feel warm inside and out and ready for the day’s challenges whatever they may be. I still put butter on it and brown sugar sent me from my Minnesota friend who has maple trees. And then I stand at my kitchen sink and look out the window past my scrawny geraniums at the neighbors setting off to work and school. And I scrub that pot. I hate scrubbing that pot just as she did. But I can’t bring myself to use any of that fancy Teflon cookware for this comfort food. I have to use that same old pot from my Mother’s kitchen that I still have after all these years.

Today is her birthday. She was born February 21, 1895. She died fifty years ago in 1957.

Monday, February 19, 2007

George Birthington’s Washday

This phrase was a joke my father always made every year which used to embarrass me when I was in high school, but now makes me miss him and his light humorous comments on life. Now that we have Presidents’ Day, we slide over the real birth dates of Lincoln and Washington. To further confuse the issue, both of my parents had February birthdays that were close. I have to look into the genealogical records to remember which is which. My father, Clarence “Andy” Anderson was born February 19, 1896 in Taylorville, Illinois, and my mother, Winifred Barnes Anderson was born February 21, 1895 in Kansas City, Missouri. More than a century ago.

They have both been gone a long time now. When I lived in Missouri I could visit the gravesites in Forest Hill Cemetery and many times Windy went with me to tend the burial places, and to leave flowers and mementos. Once, when Andy was visiting, he left a half-buried baseball by my mother’s headstone. I had told him many times that she shared his love of baseball and she never missed a radio broadcast of the World Series. Her team was the Brooklyn Dodgers.

They were wonderful parents and I have many happy memories of my growing up years. They passed on to me a passion for freedom, a legacy of protest of war and other injustices against mankind, and a commitment to protecting the environment. They taught me to read at an early age and filled our home with books and conversation. Few knew my father was deaf. He spoke very clearly, read lips, and with the help of a hearing aid kept up with all that was going on around him. He was an early advocate for the disabled and worked all his life to open doors for other deaf people.

Much of what I believe in today and most of what I do to make the world a better place is a result of growing up their child. They gave me love and wonderful gifts for which I am eternally grateful. At this time of year, I want to honor their memory.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gun Hay Fat Choy! Year of the Fire Pig

The cycle of Chinese astrology corresponds to the 12-year journey of Jupiter around the sun. Chinese astrology relies on the lunar calendar, and is built around the five traditional Chinese elements: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, Fire. These elements are assigned to each year. As a result, each animal sign has five variations. The sign repeats ever 12 years, but the specific combination occurs only once every 60 year. Even years are yang, odd years are yin. 2007 is the Year of the Fire Pig.

Rat 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
Rabbit 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
Dragon 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
Snake 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
Horse 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Goat 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
Monkey 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Rooster 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017
Dog 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018
Boar (Pig) 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019

Find your birth year to find your zodiac sign. If you want to know the element that corresponds to your birth sign, send your birthdate to me at

If you were born in 1947, you are a Fire Pig. You are active, outgoing and extroverted. Fire Pigs breathe new life into everything they do. These Pigs are vivid, motivated individuals who cannot be deterred from a goal once they have set it. They are emotional and passionate about their loved ones, their occupations and their objectives. They are bold and vivacious, unafraid to take risks despite the consequences. They make great bosses because they do work so hard and because they are so spirited. But don’t doublecross a Fire Pig. They have the ability to be quite abrasive when things don’t turn out as they planned.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Easy Bake Oven

Thirty-five years ago this date, my daughter Windy was born. After three boys, her parents were thrilled to have a girl. But no one was more thrilled than the trio of brothers. One of their first reactions was “Now we can get an Easy Bake Oven!

Okay, okay. Those were still the days of divided sex roles and boys did not ask for “girl toys” or dolls. But oh my…the advertising on TV made the oven look like so much fun. The boys just coveted that cooking appliance and daydreamed of the ability to produce a teeny tiny chocolate cake using a light bulb.

The following December they could hardly wait to write “Dear Santa…My sister wants an Easy Bake Oven.” Santa may have puzzled over a ten-month old’s ability to communicate this wish, but, being Santa, he decided to acquiesce. What a thrill on Christmas morning to find the pint-sized kitchen under the tree complete with the Easy Bake Oven.

For about a week, the family was treated to chewy flat cupcakes of indeterminate flavor that were decorated with pudding and paste and whatever else came to hand. Oh the chefs were so proud. What a shame we didn’t have digital cameras back then.

When Windy was finally old enough to use the oven, it had seen better days and long ago shorted out the battery powered bulb unit that provided the heat. She made do in the backyard with mud and sand and sticks and twigs, baked in a cardboard box. Received, I might add with the same amount of pride and astonishment the family had shown the earlier cakes.

I understand the Easy Bake Oven is back in favor again after all these years. What a relief that the boys did not want to give Windy one for her birthday this year. She will be much happier with the Spa Gift Certificate.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Here’s what happens when you have a lot of free time on your hands and are sitting at a computer and are dedicated to preventing Alzheimer’s by doing a puzzle every day. You get hooked on SUDOKU. So far…only two of my many e-mail correspondents are playing along, but you too can join the fray. Log on, work a puzzle, then “Challenge A Friend” and send it to me to work. You will probably enjoy this golden opportunity to beat me as I am the slowest puzzle solver on the planet. Janet thinks she is slower. We are still testing that premise.

Log on to
http://view.websudoku.com/? Pick your level (I recommend Easy) and scroll down to Options. You can choose to put more than one number in a square (very helpful) and even turn off the timer if you are intimidated by the pressure. You can use the Pause button if the phone rings or whoever you live with starts talking and distracting you.

Try it. You will be truly puzzled!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Three Mountain Day

It takes a combination of three elements to be able to see all three mountains: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams.

1) Clear natural weather (no rain, snow, clouds, fog)
2) Low pollution level (mercury emissions from up the Gorge and from across the ocean)
3) Viewpoint higher than The Hideaway

I can see Mt. Hood every day, but I have to be out driving around on errands to be on a hill high enough to see over the ridge in Washington.

It all came together yesterday as I came home from Book Club in Gresham and headed down the 223rd Street hill. What a splendid and spectacular sight! Later Windy called on her way north to Vancouver to exclaim over the sunset on these mountains and a full moon rising.

You have to grab those moments when you can as they don’t occur too often. This is Oregon,after all, and it does rain fairly often. PGE’s coal-fired power plant and the cement factory in the eastern end of the Gorge send emissions that cloud the air most of the time. And I am usually not out on errands in the late afternoon. So yesterday was special.

A Three Mountain Day!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Celtic Spring

Imbolc is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar. In Scotland the festival is also known as Latha Fhèill Brìghd (the Feast of St. Brigid). Another name is Oimelc, meaning "ewe's milk."

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to Groundhog Day.

Thig an nathair as an toll
La donn Bride,
Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an
Air leachd an lair.

"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."

The holiday is a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. Rituals often involve hearthfires, special foods, divination or simply watching for omens (whether performed in all seriousness or as children's games), a great deal of candles and perhaps an outdoor bonfire if the weather permits.

Celebrate this day of another turning of the seasons.