Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kill Your Air Conditioner

Oregon Is melting! One hot day and you would think it is the end of the world. Oregon had its first (and probably only) triple-digit-day yesterday. The TV newscasters are making much of the “heat wave,” issuing “Heat Advisories” and telling people how to survive. Hard to imagine that 100 years ago people lived happily without air conditioning. The hardy pioneers that settled this state endured some pretty sweaty days crossing the Midwestern prairies in the summer heat. And without showers!! The media are advising people to watch out for the old folks, but actually, old people know how to stay cool as they probably grew up, as I did, without air-conditioning.

At this point in time, when we are thinking green and worrying about the energy crisis, it seems prudent to take a second look at just what temperature constitutes a “comfort zone.” Some people and businesses seem to want their houses or offices colder in the summer than in the winter. Where should the thermostat be set? 68°? 70°? 72°? 75°? OFF?

The current gas crisis has pointed up how unwilling many people are to make the slightest sacrifice for conservation. But sacrifice is going to be essential to save this country from the egregious energy usage currently in existence. A little sweat seems a small sacrifice.

In case you don’t know, here’s what you do. Get up early and get your chores done before the sun rises. Water early. Hang out your wash. Run errands as soon as the stores open. Close up the house and pull the drapes and shades. Turn on the ceiling fans and other fans strategically placed to circulate the air through the house. Have lots of cool beverages on hand. And a good book. Cook in the crockpot or the microwave. Or eat salads. Take it easy. Try a siesta in the early afternoon. And a long walk just before dark. KILL YOUR AIR CONDITIONER!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Unseasonal Touch of Fall

The weather is such this morning that I am tempted to say I feel a “touch of Fall” in the air. Except…it’s JUNE. Usually I say that somewhere in September. But it is crispy cool with filtered sunshine and a rustle of wind in the tree tops. The temperature was 52 outside my kitchen window this morning, and still, at midmorning, has not made it into the 60s. It’s a non-work day with errands to do and chores around the place.

My cold is on Day 7. My mother always said a cold lasts nine days…three days coming, three days with you, and three days going. I expect it to be gone by the weekend. No big plans yet. So much that we do here depends on the weather. It’s nice to have a couple of “open” blank days to fill in with whatever sounds fun. It will be either raining or 90 degrees according to the weatherperson on TV.

As June winds down, my life cycles around to what I consider my “real” summer starting with a trip to Missouri in early July and then eight weeks off work when I get back. One of the highlights will be a weekend at the coast with my family (including the dogs) to celebrate my 71st birthday in August. A hiatus from Knitting Groups and Book Club for July and August means lots of free time to devote to other projects. The main ones being working on my next book Vibes From The Ridge and on my Family Genealogy Project.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer In Name Only

Summer officially starts Friday June 20th at 4:59pm PDT. T.G.I.S! Some disconnect with the calendar here as we are still having almost wintry weather. I am wearing sweats, sleeping under wool blankets, and kicking on the furnace each morning to take the chill off. It will change. Or it won’t. There was a year back in 1816 that summer never came. Read about it:

Activity-wise, summer starts for me on July 4th as I finish work on July 3rd and am “on vacation” until after Labor Day. That weekend I take off for a visit back to Missouri and I am looking forward to visits with friends, visits to favorite places, and taking some flowers to Forest Hill. I also have some business to take care of so it will be a busy time.

After I return to Portland, I will be busy with my craft and community activities, as well as taking time to just kick back on my front porch (hopefully not all bundled up) reading and sipping my peach iced tea. In August, the kids have rented a house at the coast for my 71st Birthday Celebration. A great weekend with kids, grandkids, dogs, and lots of great food and music. We’ll walk on the beach, play Frisbee, watch the babies eat sand, tell stories about childhood, build a bonfire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, and rejoice in our family.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strawberry Moon June 18th

Portland is trying its best to have the sky dark enough for the Strawberry Full Moon to be visible at 10:30 a.m. today (June 18th) when it reaches its fullest.

According to the esteemed Farmers’ Almanac, the name Strawberry Moon “was universal to every Algonquin tribe. Because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry! However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. ” Portland celebrates with Burgerville Strawberry Milkshakes and hosts the Rose Festival every June.

For us…the celebration will occur at the first of this year’s Outdoor Summer Concerts at the Oregon Zoo. We take our blankets and cushions, ride the Max, assemble the family when we get there, spread out on the lawn, and kick back for an evening of music and fun. Tonight is Junior Brown. Some folks will bring picnic fare, but I look forward to eating from the vendors. A big sticky Elephant Ear, some hot buttery popcorn, a plate of Asian noodles. What could be better?

You can picture the full moon shining down on the Anderson/Graham/Roth clan tonight. We will think of it shining down on you wherever you are.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nature Journal Entries from Terrapin Station

As I plan my visit back to Missouri, I looked in my Nature Journal to see what was happening this time of year when I lived there.

June 28, 2001
Just arrived at my new home. A wild rain and thunder storm almost caught me. Iris, tiger lilies, honeysuckle, hollyhocks, spirea and Rose of Sharon all blooming. Box turtle on the front porch!

June 1, 2002
Baby cardinals are hatched in nest on the front porch. Iris, snowball, honeysuckle, purple wild flowers (?) and peonies all blooming.

June 13, 2003
More rain and gloom. Where is the sun? Flowers are beaten down. Grass is growing too fast. Really horrible weather.

June 16, 2004
Watching the cardinal nest on the front porch. Hatching should come any minute. Mama bird is used to me sitting close by and does not seem to mind my presence. Box turtle on the front porch.

June 14, 2005
Last two weeks we have severe weather, heavy rains, flash floods, tornado watches (no touchdowns). Mimosa is blooming. Everything sagging under the weight of water.

July 9, 2005
Mowed the whole acre yard all the way around. Little Buddy is eating all the flowers. And digging holes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Empty Sunday Morning

Tim Russert
1950 - 2008

What am I going to do without Meet the Press? Part of my Sunday morning routine along with the Sunday paper & a second cup of coffee was watching Tim Russert.

How am I going to get through the rest of the 2008 elections without his commentary? I caught him every week night on MSNBC. I depended on his ability to question candidates and ferret out answers people wanted to know. He was one of my favorite news commentators. He will be missed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

In Memoriam

Clara Myrtle Barnes Marsh
June 9, 1885 – June 26, 1980

My mother’s older sister. Surrogate mother to me and surrogate grandmother to my children. A “modern woman” in 1920, working to support herself after her husband fell victim to the Influenza epidemic. She was active and involved throughout her life. She was a role model for active aging, a special person. She died soon after her 95th birthday in Kansas City, Missouri. She is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Chicago near her husband Frank and two daughters lost in infancy. As I advance in years, I think of her often. Rest in peace, Aunt Clara.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The 100 Thing Challenge

Have you heard of it? A grass roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items. Seems a bit severe to me, but there are many variations. And of course, there’s a great deal of disagreement about what constitutes an “item.” For example…is one book an item, or is my entire library an item? What about my turtle collection? The family china? I guess if you are going on a backpack trip for about five years you might want to do this.

But I have decided to declutter in a slightly different way. I am going to find 100 Things to get rid of. Where to begin? I am very attached to my things and purging all those sentimental objects is like amputating my soul. Well…I guess I could start in the work shed and jettison some cans of paint and a broken shovel. I don’t really want to do this.

Please don’t tell me to see my stuff on eBay. Too much trouble and I don’t really want someone else to have the things I’ve treasured throughout my life. Who wants the chipped blue vase my daughter gave me when she was six? She bought it for 25 cents at a garage sale as a Mother’s Day present. The first gift she picked out on her own. It still makes me smile. And I still use it.

But it is time to start looking at my infamous Stuff. I know people who have more Stuff than I do but most won’t admit it. I know women who have 100 items in their purse. My new little granddaughter has 100 stuffed animals.

But I am going to give it a try. One hundred items by end of summer. Can I do it? Watch this space for a running tally. Let me know if you will take the challenge with me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Red Eye and Early Bird Flights

Every night about 11:00 p.m., the Red Eye takes off from PDX headed for the East Coast where it is 2:00 a.m. When there is a crosswind blowing, the planes use a runway that sends them straight over my house. Usually that is right about the time I am settling down in bed, and I think about the people on that plane. What business venture or family crisis causes them to travel through the dark sky to arrive in the wee hours at cities still asleep? PDX bustles during the day but I have never been there at night. I imagine the shops and stores are closed with the big iron gates across their entrances. I imagine the food selections are limited. I imagine security officers stand around looking bored.

When I start to wake up in the morning, I can tell what time it is by the sound of planes flying over. A bevy of flights leaves between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. Business people headed to other states or vacationers off to Mexico or Hawaii. If I wake to silence, I know it is either too early to get up or I am going to be late to work. Sometimes I try to count the planes, but I always get distracted by the morning routines. I’m not much of a morning person and I am always curious about who gets up before dawn to start their trip.

Living near a major metropolitan airport provides a way to keep track of time without looking at a clock. Of course, now that airlines are struggling and fares are going up, there may be changes. Then I'll have to buy an alarm clock.