Friday, July 27, 2007

Calm Before the Storm

Usually I don’t say this until at least mid-September…but this morning almost felt like Fall. A bit of mist on the car windshield when I went out for the paper and a crisp feeling to the air. Next Wednesday is Lughnasadh which is the beginning of the Celtic Fall season. I guess my heritage is kicking in although I live at a different latitude than the Isle of Skye.

It is not even halfway through summer and the weather person on TV says more hot days to come. So far only FOUR days 90 degrees or above in 2007. Not much to whine about but the heat-haters never let up. This is my idea of perfect Oregon weather. I hope it holds for the wedding in mid-August.

Speaking of heritage, I missed the Scottish Games last weekend. I went last year and was a bit disappointed so I skipped it this year. No Clan MacLeod tent or flag in parade. Seems odd no one came forward in all the Portland Metro area. But now I am sorry I didn’t go get my bagpipe fix. Might have to pop in a CD.

This has been a stay-home morning and I don’t get many of these anymore. I’ve been relaxing on the couch and finishing a good book that has lasted two weeks. Ready for a new one for the weekend. It is nice to have a moment of calm in the wedding preparedness turmoil.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skywatch Alert an Urban Myth

No more did I write about scams and cons than I got scammed myself. Received a Skywatch Alert from a reliable and trusted source and whipped it right out to a dozen or more people who quickly let me know it was on the Urban Legend website. How embarrassing! Sorry if you were one of the recipients. Sorry too that there is not going to be an astonishing sky event close to my birthday. Guess I will have to content myself with the full moon which I think is on August 28th. Close is good enough.

July has been awesome for stargazing. The Milky Way is very bright and you can see Scorpius and Sagittarius. August will also have great night time viewing. For more information go to (I think that information is factual!) I will be camping near Mt. Hood August 17-19 which is the “Oregon Star Party” weekend in Central Oregon. I’ll miss the event, but I will look at the same sky. I have to remember to take my star charts and red cellophane to cover my flashlight.

So no “Two Moons” but lots to look at up there nevertheless. Remember to look up. Happy gazing!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sister…Can You Spare A Dime?

“I need money for gas so I can get to my…(fill in the blank) new job/mother’s funeral/friend’s wedding in…(fill in the blank) California, Washington.” A common con I have encountered many times in my life. Not very sophisticated in this day of techno swindles and pleas from Nigeria. But I am sorry to say this approach is alive and well and still working in the Portland Metro area here in Oregon.

It pained me to see it perpetrated on the very nice and generous ladies of the Craft Circle at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Gresham. Last week a scroungy young man wandered into our morning gathering. They fell for it…hook, line and sinker. Not only taking up a collection, but quickly assembling a care package of food as well. Then gathering to say a prayer for a safe journey. I was so stunned and I wanted to call the young man on his deceit, but I remained silent. I looked up during the prayer when others had their eyes closed and saw him smirking. I think he knew I knew.

What would you do in the same situation? It seemed to me more important to let my faith in people’s goodness be restored than to expose a con man. Today a columnist has written of another con man that has stung many other generous people in our fair city. He claims his truck has been stolen and asks for $25 cash to get home to a nearby rural area. Apparently hundreds have fallen for his spiel. Margie Boule wrote a column in February and today she writes that an alert reader recently snapped a photo with his cell phone when the con man approached him in a convenience store. Now the guy is a “Wanted” poster on an internet blog. I wish I had thought to whip out my phone at church.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Twister Weather

If I was in Missouri, I would be in the basement. I don’t think a tornado has ever touched down in Wood Village but you wouldn’t know by the looks of things. The light is that strange puce that signals a twister and the wind is whirling. As I set out with the dogs, birds were swooping in droves to roost in the trees. It is chilly but very humid and the air is heavy.

Where is the glorious summer we had for two days? I guess we caught the best of it on our camping trip. Nothing but rain and gloom this past week. Now I am glad to be in for the evening and ready to let the elements go crazy outside. This is “Mom’s Monday,” the day of the week I cook a big healthy dinner which will provide leftovers for Windy’s lunches all week. We have set aside this night of the week to be home, just the two of us, and work on whatever wedding preparedness activity is up next.

Even after she leaves to live in her new home with Chris, I hope she will come for visits on Mondays and later bring the baby. It is nice to have one night of the week reserved for family. Tonight’s menu is radiatoni alfredo with veggies and salad. These exotic pastas are provided by Phil. Samples from his employer, Classic Foods.

As the day winds down, good smells from the kitchen make for a cozy warm feeling. The dog and cats are napping in their appointed places, and all’s well with the world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sisters Quilt Show Camping Trip

Andy and Laura planned a wonderful weekend camping trip for me to attend the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show over the mountain in Central Oregon. We left on Friday afternoon and set up our camp at Suttle Lake about ten miles outside of town in Deschutes National Forest. Saturday Laura and I spent the day wandering through the town admiring quilts and getting inspired for future quilts we will want to make. While we were in town, Andy went hiking with their little Jack Russell terrier, Scout. The two of them visited five different lakes in the area. We spent both evenings lounging around our campsite enjoying great dinners, campfires, s’mores, guitar playing, and good ole conversation. Laura and I both brought some knitting. The first night was very clear and the stargazing was absolutely amazing.

There were over 1300 quilts at the show hanging all over town in front of stores and on the sides of buildings. My quilt, Legacy Star Sampler, was in front of a photography shop with a bead store right next to it. Lots of traffic there. I hung out for awhile listening to the compliments and basking in the glory. We checked out many of the stores in town and of course, bought a few things. Great little bookstore! It was a fantastic and fun day.

But equally fun was the camping trip. It’s been awhile since I set up my tent. (A year ago in Alaska was the last time.) Andy is an awesome camper with everything you could possibly need packed in his camp boxes. They brought all the food and the whole kitchen set up. All I had to do was set up my tent, unroll my sleeping bag, kick back and enjoy. My Therm-a-rest pad does provide for a night of comfy sleeping. The weather was perfect…Oregon’s finest. The smell of pine trees and campfires was intoxicating. One of the best times I’ve had since moving here. I can’t wait to go again. Thanks to Andy and Laura for an incredible weekend.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer Soda

What was your favorite drink when you were a kid? My generation will remember Nehi Orange. Ah…the sweet sugary sticky taste. Nehi drinks came out of one of those old ice-chest-style coolers with racks of bottles hanging by their necks. You slid it up and put your coin in and the lever released and there it was dripping all over your hand with little particles of ice stuck to it. Not at all like the cans that clunk out of the machine now. This afternoon treat was, as I recall, the high point of the day at Oakledge Girl Scout Camp. [Side Note: the camp was not far from where I ended up years later at Terrapin Station.]

My mother favored Dr. Pepper and that was always on hand in our old Frigidaire. She believed it was the healthiest of the soda choices as it contained…(did you know this?)...prune juice! We had a clock in the barn that had little soda bottles for the numerals 10, 2 and 4. That was their advertising…you were supposed to drink it three times a day for regularity. Oh my.

The grown-ups in my non-alcoholic home drank gallons of iced tea made the old-fashioned way with steeped hot tea poured over ice. Mint from the garden or lemons provided the two taste choices. Mother the health nut did not use sugar for a sweetener. Consequently my preference for the previously mentioned Nehi which was 98% sugar.

The neighbors were not so concerned with temperance. They sat out in their yard drinking their martinis and waving to me as I ran around the yard catching fireflies. The making of those drinks required some boogie woogie shaking on the part of the husband. They smoked Regent cigarettes and gave me the empty boxes.

Today my drink of choice for summer is raspberry iced tea. Sometimes I add mint from my tiny garden-in-a-tub on my porch. But lately I've had a hankerin’ for Nehi. I’ll have to go in search of a source.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Portland Is Melting

Yesterday we had our first triple digit day since last July. And you would think it is the end of the world as we know it. Portland just cannot deal with heat. It is treated as a top-of-the-hour news break, and warnings and alerts saturate the media. This town is known for its “weather as news” mentality. With the exception of tornadoes in Missouri and earthquakes in California, coverage of the weather has not been a top priority in other places I have lived.

Nevertheless, it is hot. Having grown up in Missouri without air conditioning, I am pretty well versed in all the tricks of keeping the house cool. I have fans and blackout shades and I don’t do much (if any) cooking. Good excuse to ignore the laundry and let the vacuum rest. The dogs and cats and I stay well hydrated and take it easy.

On the other hand, I don’t cancel everything just because the sun is shining. This morning I’m off to play golf and tonight I will attend the free concert at the Oregon Zoo. Knitting is cancelled this afternoon but not because of me. The other “old ladies” are scared to be outside of their air-conditioned cocoons.

Some of you reading this live in the Midwest (or did at one time) and therefore remember those wonderful hot summer mornings heading out to the garden to pick fresh berries for breakfast. And as darkness fell, dragging mattresses out into the yard to watch the fireflies and gaze at the stars. How did we ever survive?

More recently I remember a string of triple digit days when I lived at Terrapin Station. No big deal for the folks in St. Clair County. Old and young went about their business as usual and quite a few homes were without a/c. I did wonder about the Amish women in their voluminous dark colored clothing. But for the most part, people dealt with the heat without much comment or lament.

Today it may not make it to 100. 99 is predicted. A small differential, subtle but important. We do not want two triples in a row.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

After the 4th

After a long Winter and a damp gloomy Spring, we finally had some hot weather last week just in time for the 4th of July. It reached 90 degrees which is considered unbearably hot here in the Northwest. With that, it seemed like Summer had finally arrived.

Before we have had a chance to enjoy some lazy days and a “vacation” feel to things, it is time to go Back To School. Oh wow. I am so far behind the curve. Remember the days when school started after Labor Day? When you had a week to buy new school shoes and a few very basic supplies from the list you were handed the first day.

Today’s Sunday paper included an inch-high stack of ads for school clothes and school supplies, and Wal-Mart has posted the supply lists for every grade at every school in the region. I can’t believe all the things kids have to provide today. But I love using this opportunity to stock up on office supplies…paper, notebooks, pens, highlighters, and scotch tape.

And I have to admit…I won’t be sorry to see the neighborhood urchins back in the classroom for a few hours a day. Another change I have noticed besides the early mid-summer start date is the shortening of the school day. Kids in the park catch a bus at 9:00 a.m. and are home and playing in the street before 2:00 p.m. These are not kindergarteners. Middle school! High school gets home by 3:00 p.m.

This is a quiet Sunday morning with everyone sleeping in, exhausted no doubt from the ten-day long celebration of Independence Day. Two weekends with an explosive Wednesday in the middle. All designed to torture old ladies and dogs. I am glad to see the fireworks stand down the road finally closed and shuttered. And the kiddies seem to have run out of matches.

Princess, being bred as a hunting dog, has a genetic predisposition to freeze at the sound of a gunshot (or firecracker) and wait for a bird to fall from the sky. She is not bothered by the incessant popping and bursts of loud sound. Buddy, on the other hand, is hearing impaired and does not hear the normal level of sound. So the big noises surprise and startle him. He also is afraid of the flashes of light. We have spent a lot of time in the back part of the house with the shades drawn and blankets thrown over the dog crates. The cats just go to ground and are not seen for days.

So now the summer money-wasting ritual is over and we are on the far side of the slope toward Fall. I’ll enjoy this summer Sunday sitting with my knitting and watching Wimbledon and feeling the gentle breeze through the window that it is finally safe to open.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Summer Weekend

My idea of perfect weather! Warm enough to cast off the jacket, cool enough to enjoy this lazy Sunday morning. Yesterday was yard work day and it is nice to sit on the porch now and look out on a neatly trimmed place. The wildflowers I planted last year are blooming again outside the fence…poppies and daisies. The porch plants are thriving and it is a calming place to take my book and my knitting and my raspberry iced tea.

Last night I was out with the dogs to watch the full moon rise over the Cascades slightly hidden behind a filigree lattice of clouds. It is not, as some may think, a Blue Moon, at least not here on the West Coast. It is a Blue Moon in London but the time differential changes the month here on this continent. See the explanation at

Blue or silver, it was beautiful and followed by this great summer day to relax and enjoy being in a wonderful place at a special time. The wedding plans are falling into place and a weekend of festivities will bring together old friends and new soon-to-be relatives. The summer is full of other activities, too, including golf, knitting, quilting, dog obedience school, and my part-time work.

As I head into Septaugenarianism (end of August), I am blessed with a wonderful growing family, good health, a comfortable home, great pets and an all-around good life.