Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful day of eating and thanking. Start hungry, end happy! And be very grateful for all your blessings. I am thankful for your friendship and caring.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ghosts in the Wilderness

Snow, rain, fog, travel delays, miserable weather for any activity outside. Welcome winter. Chains are required on the passes, and the road crews are out trying to clear the way for all the Thanksgiving travelers. Mt. Hood lurks behind the clouds, invisible from here. But it looms large in the wilderness.

There are ghosts out there in the woods. There is a missing hiker alone in the wilderness, not an uncommon event this time of year. As of this weekend the search turned into a recovery mission as it has been two weeks. The wilderness is not a gentle place. A day hike can turn into a nightmare very quickly. This professor from the U of O left his warm jacket, water bottle and map in his car which was found a few days after he went missing. Hikers reported meeting him on the trail that Sunday, but he never returned.

A year ago, a young family from San Francisco was lost in the coastal range. The mother and children were found, but the father died trying to get help. And despite the warm weather this past summer, searchers never found the bodies of the climbers lost on Mt. Hood last year. The mountain claims its own and does not give them back.

This area is a place of awesome beauty with Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge and the Coast. But the mountain and the river and the ocean can turn deadly. This is a place that draws tourists and city dwellers who fail to recognize the power behind the beauty. Simple common sense seems to be left at home.

As I write this, the sirens of the rescue vehicles whine as they hasten up The Gorge. Another hiker lost. Another fisherman in the water. Another car down the ravine. Portland…the Gateway to natural wonders…is also the Gateway to disaster. As dawn breaks in the morning, if the cloud cover lifts, I will hear the search helicopters take off from the launch pad near here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wrapped In Warmth

This rainy afternoon is waning and darkness will come early tonight. The TV says it is snowing at Timberline but I wouldn’t know as it is shrouded in clouds and fog. We went out earlier than usual today and now we glad to be back.

It is time to let down the shades and draw the curtains and pull into the warmth of our home here. The dogs have shaken off the rain from their walk and are snoozing on their beds. The cats have been curled up on their heated fleece beds all day. The usual football game is on TV and the afternoon pot of coffee just finished perking. (Actually it drips, but “perking” sounds better.)

Humble as my place is, it comforts me on nights like this, wrapping around me and making me feel very thankful to be warm, safe, healthy and happy. As Thanksgiving approaches, I do think of all I have to be grateful for. Family, friends, my pets, my job, my activities. I am truly blessed.

I hope each of you out there have a Happy Thanksgiving. Stay warm and safe. My best to each of you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

High Wind Advisory

In Osceola, my colorful windsocks and collection of wind chimes hung on the porch primarily as decoration, sometimes fluttering a bit or ringing a note or two, but rarely whipping about with wild abandon as they are doing this morning on the porch at The Hideaway. The famous/infamous Gorge Winds are blowing with fierce intensity.

Inside I am warm and cozy and the house is tight. Unlike my 95-year old place in the heartland, there are no cracks to admit the weather. The trees make wild shadows on the blinds and bushes rub against the foundation making strange noises that puzzle the dogs.

Usually June is the favored month for wind in the Gorge. The sun bakes the lands east of the Cascades, causing the air to rise. Cool air from the west side then rushes up the river, whipping through Hood River with near gale force at times. These winds, blowing against the downriver flow of water, create a recreational weather phenomenon as popular as the snow in the Cascades. Wind has turned Hood River, once an ailing lumber town, into the Aspen of windsurfing. “Pray for Wind Parties” and “Windfest” events, usually in June when things start to pick up in the rush of currents through the Gorge, bring tourists and wind sport aficionados from all over.

November is not wind season, but we all know the cycle of nature is being changed by global warming and human interference. So the winds are blowing today and if you have a wet suit and a stout heart you could go windsurfing on the Columbia River. Later I will go out and see if there is any activity nearby.

This is the day to drive a big heavy sturdy clunky SUV if you are venturing forth. VW buses stay home as staying on the road might be a challenge. And a hat that ties under the chin is also a plus. Zip up the coat, don’t carry loose papers, and don’t try to spit.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Armistice Day

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” was a phrase I heard often as a small child. My family continued to call November 11th Armistice Day for many years even after it was officially changed to Veteran’s Day after World War II. Both my father and my Uncle Phil fought in World War I and a day commemorating their service was important to them.

To pay tribute to them, 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” down Main Street in Kansas City dated November 11, 1929.

Please observe a moment of silence at the 11th Hour today to honor the veterans in my family and others you know.

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.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Election Day 2007

November 6th was a special election here in Oregon and voter turn-out was disappointing but better than expected. Weather is no longer a factor in whether folks vote, as Oregon has abandoned polling places. The old gathering spots in garages and church basements have been replaced by mail-in ballots. The postal service brings them to your house and you either mail them back or drop them in one of the secure ballot boxes strategically placed around town.

While it may be more efficient, it sure takes the fun out of voting. I have many fond memories of the polling places of my past. And of standing in line to cast my vote. The first time I marked a ballot was in 1960 when I stood for hours in the rain to cast my vote for John F. Kennedy for President. I have not missed voting in an election since then.

Yesterday’s issues in Oregon were a major land use measure which passed by a large margin and an attempt to tax cigarettes 85 cents a pack to fund children’s health care which failed by a large margin. A huge amount of money (probably enough to fund health care for children) was spent by the tobacco companies to defeat Measure 50.

I love following politics in places I have lived, and San Francisco always offers a very colorful race for mayor. From the SF Chronicle: “San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared victory Tuesday night in his almost effortless bid for re-election - confident that the cast of characters running against him won't catch up - and pledged the start of his second term will be marked by major environmental initiatives and an attempted reconciliation with his critics at City Hall. ... The other candidates were Chicken John Rinaldi, a professional "showman"; Grasshopper Alec Kaplan, a homeless taxicab driver; George Davis, a nudist; Michael Powers, a sex club owner; H. Brown, a blogger and former teacher; Harold Hoogasian, a florist; Lonnie Holmes, a Juvenile Probation Department manager; Wilma Pang, a music professor at City College of San Francisco; Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, a physician and personal trainer; and Josh Wolf, a journalist and blogger who was imprisoned this year for refusing to surrender to authorities video he shot of a violent San Francisco protest.” What can I say?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Falling Backwards

The dogs just don’t get it…this tampering with the clocks. For them it is what time their stomachs tell them it is. Their brains are hooked up to light and dark, dawn and nightfall. Consequently they were up at their usual 7:00 a.m. which according to the clocks is now 6:00 a.m. I don’t get it either. Hard to understand why not having to turn on the lights in the morning saves more energy than turning on the lights earlier in the evening. Huh?

I thought this started when we needed more daylight later during the years of World War II so people would have time to labor in their Victory Gardens after they got off work at their regular jobs. That was in the summertime when vegetables usually grow. So now we have this switch of time from April to November and our biological clocks have to be reset twice a year for no apparent reason. It’s been awhile since I saw a Victory Garden!

An article in the paper yesterday claimed that there is an increase in fatal pedestrian vs. auto accidents at the time of evening that it gets dark earlier. So don’t go walking around at the end of the afternoon. I am changing the time of my walk with the dogs and we will go earlier through the winter. Luckily I am retired and home and can do that.

So now it is late morning…lunchtime by my stomach but not by the clock. It will take several weeks for my biorhythms to adapt to this change. Meanwhile I will eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired. Works for me.