Monday, April 30, 2007

They Is Us

Before she moved away, I used to drive up from Osceola and visit my daughter in Kansas City. Part of the fun for me was the chance to shop for items not available down home. So on a sunny April Sunday we could very well have been at the Ward Parkway Mall shopping for shoes or getting a latte at Starbucks. We often went to the Target store for housewares and even clothes.

So I watched in sadness and astonishment as the shooting at the mall took place yesterday. Even from this vantage point, it seemed too close for comfort. Unlike the shooting at Virginia Tech, a school I had never heard of in a state I had never been to. But that too saddened me. And then before I could come to terms with the Kansas City news, word came of a shooting at a mall in Lincoln City on the coast here in Oregon.

Middle Eastern Terrorists must be smirking as they watch us shoot ourselves. Pogo was so right! “We have met the enemy and they is us.”

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Good Book and a Cuppa Hot Tea

It is supposed to be Spring here in the Pacific Northwest, but it has been slow in coming. The trees are blossoming and the bushes blooming, but the day is overcast and chilly and a bit too windy for comfort.

Instead of relaxing on the porch with a cool drink, it’s a day for curling up on the couch with a good book and a cuppa hot tea. My choice for this activity: Alexander McCall Smith's latest in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive is set in Botswana, Africa and tells the further adventures of Precious Ramotswe and her husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. These stories can transport you to another place and time.

Of course, for this occasion only a cup of Mma. Ramotswe’s favorite Red Bush Tea will do. Known better as Rooibos Tea, it was difficult to find back in July of 2005 when I first wrote about this series of books. Now it is sold at Safeway as Celestial Seasonings “Red Safari Spice.”

The dogs are dozing at my feet and the cats are settled in their chairs. It is quiet in the neighborhood; no one is out doing yard work. The kids must be inside playing computer games. Lazy music on the radio is lulling me and in a few minutes I am likely to doze off for my afternoon “forty winks.”

If you haven’t discovered these captivating tales, here are the books in the series:
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Blue Shoes and Happiness
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Best Choice

Best Choice is the label of the store-brand merchandise sold at Carney’s Five Star Market in Osceola, Missouri. You may remember Carney’s as the setting for The Lone Eggplant in Down Home Musings. A great little market that catered to the needs of town residents and also to the appetites of the hunters and fishermen who invaded the town from time to time.

When I first arrived in Oregon, I brought along many products purchased there…pretty much anything that was not perishable. Canned goods, paper goods, toiletries. One by one those have been used up and today I used up the last identifiable Best Choice product. I have finally exhausted the 18-month supply of coffee filters that made the cross-country trip!

Now I live in Oregon 100%. But I do have fond memories of Carney’s Market where I shopped almost daily for the years I lived there. They began carrying Boca Burgers just for me and added tofu and eggplant to the produce department. The checkers were friendly and asked about my dogs. And as you know, I have an insatiable need for empty boxes and the store proved to be a good source. No matter when I went, early or late, weekday or weekend, I would run into someone I knew so shopping often took quite a bit longer than I had planned.

The place was a community center and a source of information. In the winter, the local joke was that when you saw the parking lot getting crowded a big storm was coming in. During hunting season, the giant barbecue was set up in the parking lot and the smell of ribs permeated the town. Outside the door stood the yellow paper box where I went on my daily mission to purchase The Kansas City Star.

Lots of memories there and I thought of all those trips as I tossed out the coffee filter wrapper.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trust Your Swing

‘Tis the season to hit the links and my Wednesday Women’s Golf Group is back in session. We meet and learn and play (and laugh) at Colwood Golf Club. Our instructor is Roger Williams who has a long history with the game and is an excellent (and patient) teacher.

Today’s Lesson: Address the Ball: Nine things to do EVERY time!

1) Determine your target. You can’t get there unless you know where you are going.
2) Draw a mental line. Look beyond the target and find two stationery points to line up with the target and continue that line to your ball.
3) Club face square (90º, perpindicular, upright). Hold the club at eye level to determine this. Your eye tricks you with the grooves if you look at the club on the ground.
4) Angle. Your two arms and the club should make a Y.
5) Get a grip. With your left hand, shake hands with the club. Rest the heel on the handle first, then curl the fingers around so you can see two knuckles, then put the thumb straight on the handle to provide leverage when the club is over your head. Turn your right hand palm down. Place the lifeline over the left thumb. Curl the fingers so the right pinkie is over the left index. Pinch the thumb and index around the club.
6) Ball position. Place the ball on the target line (see #2).
7) Stance. Start with the ball lined up to your heels when they are together. Move left foot a little to the side, move the right foot twice that distance. Your stance should be square with the target line. The ball slightly to the left of middle of your heels. To test how far is the right distance from the ball, put your right hand under your armpit when holding the club with your left. If it fits snugly, you are the right distance. Too tight means you’re too close, too loose means too far away.
8) Posture. Flex knees slightly and stick your butt out. Back (spine) straight.
9) Place the club. The cutting edge of the club should be under the ball. The club face should be square, not tilted.

Push your golf cart. Pulling it puts stress on the upper body and shoulders. Pushing uses the leg muscles and you are not already tired when you get to the tee.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Step It Up

Concerned folks in Osceola organized into this small activist organization just before I moved away. I was lucky to attend several meetings before I left. It's a special group mentored and inspired by my friends Larry and Ruth Lewis. They may be few in number, but their message is loud and clear.

This past weekend when people across the country joined in Climate Change demonstrations, these people braved the chilling weather to ask Congress to STEP IT UP as they gathered on a bluff top overlooking the place where the Sac River, flowing out of the Ozark highlands, joins the Osage River, coming through wetlands of the Osage plains in eastern Kansas.

These Osage River bluffs, near Osceola, MO, form part of the 12- mile outer rim of the Weableau Structure, identified by geologists of Missouri State Universty as the crater left by a meteor that crashed into our planet 340,000,000 years ago. The human "Crater Critters" in the photo pledge to do what they can to lessen the catastrophic effects of our species' behavior.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Principle of Unintended Consequences

Farmers are planting more corn than they have since World War II. Do you like corn with your summer barbeque? Well…this corn is not for eating so forget that ear dripping in trans fat that wasn’t so good for you anyway. This corn is being planted in response to the growing production of ethanol.

Here’s how it goes. Ethanol demand pushes corn prices up so farmers grow more corn. Corn is then diverted from becoming animal feed and people food. Feed and food then cost more to produce and the supply is limited. Consumers then pay more at the store. Fields planted in corn do not produce wheat or other crops and those items become more scarce and then cost more at the store. The bun for your burger costs more. The burger itself costs more as the beef costs more to raise. The consumer pays more all the way around.

Nothing has brought home the global connectedness more than the recent pet food recall. Imports from countries that have different (or non-existent) regulations about pesticides can pose a threat not only to pet food but to human food as well. As our wheat fields are planted in corn for bio-diesel, our dependence on imported wheat from China and other countries will increase.

Stack this up against the peak oil problem that is driving the war in the Middle East and the carbon emissions tradeoff calculator (thank you, Al) that is supposedly balancing the massive overproduction by Americans with the pitiful amount generated by destitute third world inhabitants. Along with global warming do we now face global starving?

What does it all mean? What can we do? Walk more, drive less. Shop at local farmer’s markets, eat locally grown produce. Eat more vegetables, eat less meat. Buy curlicue light bulbs. Start rationing water now so it won’t be such a shock when it is not so easy to obtain. Turn off the air conditioner. Turn down the furnace. Learn to generate your own power. (Those bikes are awesome!) Write your legislator and speak out.

Hopefully all of you are going to participate in your local Climate Change activity this weekend and offer your insights. Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blazing Eyeballs

The swelling has gone down and the pain has subsided a bit. But the eyeballs are fiery red and rather gross looking if the truth be told. Not sure how this infection got started (although my mother would say I must have touched a railing or shopping cart with GERMS and then rubbed my eyes even though she had told me not to at least a thousand times), but it was vicious.

The antibiotic/steroid drops are helping although my vision is still blurred and reading is not yet pleasurable. My eyes are also very sensitive to the light so I can’t look at the computer screen too long. The good news is that the cataract implants are undisturbed and that is not the problem.

Of course, in a mean trick of fate, the first sunny days in lo these many months of dark dreary Northwest winter had to coincide with this infection, requiring me to wear my rapper sunglasses all day and into the evening. My friends sent caring messages and I do want everyone to know I am healing.

Now the rain is back, so on this wet Easter weekend I am happy to stay in and watch the Masters Golf Tournament. Maybe knit on the $45 socks. It is not hard to convince me to take it easy!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Thousand Things

It’s a big fad this year. “One thousand places to see before you die.” That wears me out just thinking about it. Back in July 2005, I wrote in Musings about starting a list of things that I am probably NEVER going to do before I die. Back then, I listed several things associated with the Ozarks so I will skip over those. Long way to go to 1000, but I am working on it. I add things on a fairly regular basis. I will keep you updated. Here is the new list:

Learn to swim
Finish reading Dr. Zhivago
Run for office
Drive a cab
Win the lottery
Finish sorting The Stuff
Grow roses (although I will stop to smell them!)
Run a marathon
Learn another language
Waste my time looking at youtube
Like licorice

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Great Sliding Stack

This morning I am working on summer plans and getting dates on the calendar. This involves invading the sliding stack overflowing from my In Box. Things have been accumulating in there since August 2006 which is about eight months worth of unsorted paperwork, flyers, brochures, ads, coupons, letters, e-mails, reports, photos, newspaper articles, reminder postcards, and other unidentifiable items. Just about everything that arrives by USPS except for bills. Those reside in a desk drawer that seems to be a safer and more reliable place.

Nevertheless, the need to find things causes a certain level of stress as lately my brain has had a fog around the edges and many things seem to go missing. Today I need information about a gift I’m giving Phil for his 39th birthday on April 10th. Time constraint there!

Yesterday Andy and Laura and I started planning a camping trip for July. We’re going to the Sisters Quilt Show and we’ll camp overnight at a place they know. I’m entering The Quilt and I need to find the brochure and registration materials. The deadline could be looming and I don’t want to miss it.

Despite the fact that Spring in its usual form has not arrived in Portland, Women’s Golf starts next week. I participated in it last year and enjoyed getting out and trudging around the links with the other old ladies. I have a whole little packet of Golf Stuff including notes I’ve taken with words of wisdom from instructors. Plus little rule books. Also extra balls and wooden tees and the One Glove. Also have to find the shoes. And…it goes without saying…the clubs. The latter few will not be on the desk. But I have to put my hands on that notebook.

Search and Rescue begins. As I sort through I find many things that can go straight to recycling as they are over or unimportant. Other things I had forgotten about remind me of things I need to do. The most obvious, of course, is buy some file folders and organize this mess. In the past, it has been my custom to shove it all in a box and label it To Be Filed. I have about fifty of those boxes in my storage unit. The older ones are now Time Capsules!

It’s another cold (34 degrees) gloomy wet morning in the Northwest so perhaps I will get going on this project. Or not. I could fall asleep over my book. Or knit a few more rows on the $45 socks. Or work a Sudoku puzzle. So many choices…so little time.