Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Skipping a Season

This is my third summer in Oregon and each gets worse than the last. There hasn’t really been a summer this year. Two days in the 90s and those not consecutive. Today is in the 50s and raining. Some mornings lately have been in the 40s. I refuse to turn on the furnace in July, but I am still sleeping in flannel pajamas under two wool blankets. Cold damp mornings do not lend themselves to sitting on the porch with my second cup of coffee. Walking with the dogs on Sunday I thought “what a perfect fall afternoon.” Except it’s JULY! C’mon.

I do pine for those warm summer days in Missouri, although during my week long trip back there earlier this month, they were having unseasonably cool and wet weather. Friends accused me of bringing Oregon along with me.

Most people, especially people who live in Portland, find me peculiar because I like HOT sunny weather. It’s a strange concept here, but there are people elsewhere in the United States who do not worship rain and do not want to wear fleece all year round. Unfortunately, my kids chose Portland so I am here to be close to them and enjoy my two adorable grandchildren. And that does, in the end, make it worthwhile.

I do, however, reserve the right to bitch about the weather. It sucks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three Years Ago

My Memory Trip to Missouri took me back to the summer of 2005 when I first began writing my thoughts online. In the early summer of that year, I had a phone call with my dear friend Keppy. I was living in Missouri, she was in Maine and dying of cancer. We talked every few months, but as she weakened I did most of the talking and she did most of the listening with the receiver on the pillow beside her. On what turned out to be our last phone call, I told her a story about a mutual friend and an eggplant. She roared with laughter. A big laugh. A before-she-got-sick laugh. “You should write a book,” she said. This echoed a refrain I had been hearing for a number of years, most recently at my High School 50th Reunion.

So was born the Blog and from that a book was eventually published. Down Home Musings was dedicated to Katrina “Keppy” Welles Swanson who died that August. It’s a collection of anecdotes about my life at Terrapin Station that last glorious summer before I left for Oregon. The book is available for purchase online at
www.iuniverse.com. I’ve heard from several people that they are re-reading the book as lends itself to the feel of summer.

As I sit here in the dreary cold weather that passes for summer in Oregon, I do look back on those halcyon days on my porch watching the pair of cardinals who lived nearby, sipping my raspberry iced tea, and watching the grass grow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sun Tea?

What was I thinking? Sun Tea in Oregon? Not gonna happen. My big jug has been sitting on the counter since early June, but I have not made any Sun Tea yet. Cloudy weather just does not produce the right brew. So it’s back to the tea kettle on the stove and the Rainy Day Tea method. I am liking Celestial Seasoning’s Mango Darjeeling and Lipton’s White Tea with Mango and Peach.

Why am I writing this now? Well it is the hour of the day that is the Tea Time of my Scottish-influenced childhood. 4:00 p.m. and just about the right time to spoil your supper with a scone or some other yummy treat along with a cup of freshly brewed tea.

The making of which is a bit of a ceremony and an art form. To start with…never…ever…use water that has already been boiled once and is just sitting in the kettle. Empty the kettle and put on fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, but don’t let it “roil.” Use a tea ball or a lidded spoon if you have one or just throw the leaves in and strain them out as you pour the tea which has steeped for five minutes in a china teapot tucked under a handmade tea cozy.

If you are dipping and dunking a tea bag in and out of some microwaved hot water for a few seconds you may be having a hot drink but it is not TEA. Making tea “from scratch” is like baking. You can use shortcuts but it is never quite the same and never quite as good.

So fix yourself a cuppa and join me in relaxing as the afternoon wanes. A nice segue to the evening and a ritual to pamper yourself.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Missouri Memories

Last week I took a Nostalgia Trip down home to Osceola, Missouri where I lived at Terrapin Station for five glorious Summers and the intervening Falls, Springs and Winters. It was a return to my “real” home even though I have been living in exile in Oregon since 2005. Half business and half pleasure, it was a week of memories, and a strange combination of fun and sadness. I stayed with some of my best friends and that was a true joy. I visited places I loved in Kansas City and St. Clair County. I went to Forest Hill and put flowers on the graves and stood for a few moments on my final resting place.

I spent some difficult hours sorting through boxes in the storage unit that houses some of my possessions that I left behind, looking for children’s toys and books I saved for my grandchildren. I took care of some financial matters that were still hanging. I ate wonderful fresh-from-the-garden meals, saw old friends and acquaintances, and relived some happy times. One thing I did not do was drive by Terrapin Station. Friends have told me the new owners have made changes that would disappoint me. So…like the country song I heard on the car radio as I was driving there…"better as a memory."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Remembering My Father

Clarence Anderson
February 21, 1896 – July 5, 1964

My father, “Andy” Anderson as he was known all his life, was born in Taylorville, Illinois. He was the youngest of seven children born to Archelaus and Leah Grace Anderson. When he was three years old, he had an ear infection that resulted in severe hearing loss. Despite his deafness, he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Engineering and went on to serve in World War I as a “Plane Spotter.” It was thought at the time that deaf people had exceptional eyesight. While in college he met Winifred Barnes of Kansas City and he married her in 1920. They made their home in Kansas City where my sister and I were born. He was very proud of his Scottish heritage (MacLeod clan) which could be traced back to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time. My father lost my mother in 1957, and died of a stroke shortly after my first son was born in 1964. He is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City and I plan to visit his grave on my trip back to Missouri this week.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Almost Home

One of the things I am looking forward to seeing in Missouri is the house-size American Flag that flies over the gas station in Lowry City as I draw near to Osceola. That flag marked the "almost home" spot as I returned from work or shopping in Clinton or a visit to Kansas City. It can be seen from miles away. I don't live at Terrapin Station anymore, but next week I am returning to a place that is still my home in my heart.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mother Nature’s Fireworks

In the middle of last night, Mt. Hood was lit up by flashes of lightning as thunder cracked and roared. Quite an awesome display of natural fireworks, but it frightened the dogs who ended up huddled in the bedroom with me. Pounding rain ensued (it IS Oregon, after all) drenching and pounding flowers into the ground and sending a cascade of pine cones onto my roof and yard. So far in 2008, we have had two days when the temp was above 90 degrees. It is cool this morning and the air is full of smoke drifting up from California. No sun to dry things out.

In two days I will be flying into the heartland and perhaps into more stormy weather. There was heavy rain in Kansas City last night and hailstones as big as ping pong balls! This is a wet summer everywhere. Gardeners are mourning the loss of their vegetables, farmers bemoaning the destruction of crops. The orchards here are coming in late and the harvest is skimpy. Prices are skyrocketing accordingly.

Has it always been like this? When did Weather (with a capital W) become the top news story every night? It does seem that there are more newsworthy weather events than in the past. But surely…surely…we have something else to talk about. How about the mother dachshund that adopted the baby pig? Great story. Or the next American Idol?

Anyway…Mother Nature has done her bit for Independence Day and now folks are hoping for fair weather tomorrow for their barbecues and trips to the river. For all of you out there, be cautious and don’t blow yourself up or catch yourself on fire.