Sep 30, 2007

Book Club Response to "Water for Elephants"

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen turned out to be a very good quick and lively read. When the book club met last week the consensus was that on a scale of 1-10 this book would rank at about an 8. It was not the best book we had ever read but still represented that time in our history from an unusual view point. The Depression for the group here at Orenco Station was not a part of our personal life but most of the ladies were the children of parents that endured the hard and unforgiving times.

We talked about other books written about the era. John Steinbeck came up as well as Annie Proux. We did not think that this book compared with those written by the two authors mentioned. However, there was a feeling that Gruen has come very close. The author had mentioned the fact that the main character in the book told a story that loosely followed the biblical tale of Jacob in the book of Genisis. Steinbeck has used this method in the writing of his books and maybe that was why we found ourselves comparing the material for the books. It should be noted that one member mentioned East of Eden. "I could not lay it down and wanted it to last longer" was her feeling about the Steinbeck classic. Water for Elephants did not leave anyone feeling that way.

So if you feel like running away with the circus, symbolically or in reality, Water for Elephants will be for you. It is a safe read for your neighborhood book club and there can be some lively discussion about the content.

By the way, one of the members said she would only give the book a 6 rating. She just didn't feel challenged enough. She was not alone in that opinion.

Sep 25, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and a list!

I'm reading ¨Water for Elephants" written by Sara Gruen for our book club meeting next Friday. "Water for Elephants" is a wonderful break from the usual material I have read this summer. The list includes "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Spendid Suns" both by Khaled Hosseini, "Abundance: a Novel of Marie Antoinette" and "Ahab's Wife" by Sena Jeter Nashlund, "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi just to name a few. "Water for Elephants" is just plain fun and interesting.

The story is told by Jacob, a 90 or 93 year year old retired veterinarian, from his residence in a nursing home. He tells the story of circus life during the depression and how he came to be there.. The times are hard and the story carries you along creating images of small towns with angry sheriffs, cities where there is no work to be had and a train carrying the workers, performers, menagerie, the young Jacob and one magnificent, brilliant elephant. There is a beautiful equestrian performer and her bipolar husband, a midget and a lovable drunk. The future of the circus revolves around the dream of the circus owner to have an elephant in the show. The elephant named Rosie, like most of the people that perform or work on the circus, came to this place because it seemed to be the only place left for her to go. However, unlike the people that work on the circus, Rosie has found new, ingenious and often maddening ways to get revenge on the circus, the menagerie manager and the circus owner. I have a feeling that no good will come of it all. It certainly is a wonderful read. The stories of the young Jacob and the old Jacob are beautifully woven together and I can certainly see that they are indeed the same person inside even though age has taken it's toll.

I have not finished the book. I did not want to finish reading it before I wrote about it. I am always afraid I will reveal the end. It is a book recommended for book clubs but the web site, suggested that you did not read the questions until after you had finished with the book because it would ruin the surprises around the corner. Now I can hardly wait to read more.

Just as an added note: I often read the questions for book clubs and wonder if the people that write them have read the same book I did. Many times I wonder if they are asking the right questions, maybe the hard questions. Reading for discussion does require more attention than just reading for pleasure. It is interesting.


Books waiting to be read:
"My Antonia" by Willa Cather
"Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt
"Lost in the City" by Edward P. Jones (National Book Award Finalist)
"The Known World" by Edwar P. Jones ( Pulitzer Prize winner in 2004.)
"The Risk Pool" Richard Russo. (He also so wrote "Empire Falls" and "Straight Man"

Sep 22, 2007

The Perfect Interior Decorating Shop+a bicycle race!!!

Photos by Barbara Torris 2007

Does everyone love a wonderful design store as much as I do. I discovered this shop called Sherrie Weitzel Interiors in the Bethany Shopping Center today when I was there to watch my grandson race in a Criterion Race sponsored by Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. When my grandson races in these events we always include a coffee hour under the trees or sunning a warm spot. Today we were treated to a little shopping, a little Starbucks Coffee and a little bicycle racing. It was the perfect day.

We parked in front of Sherrie's shop and it invited us in with no trouble. We wandered among her wears in awe and yearned for everything she displayed. The lamps were simply gorgeous and, as we learned later, one of a kind created by her discerning eye.

The owner of the design shop features items that allow you to make your home look like your own. She can help you turn that wonderful ceramic item you bought on your last trip abroad into a beautiful lamp. Just ask her and she will be willing to help you out for a fee. When you look at the pictures above, you can see some of the inventory she keeps. I heartily recommend her taste.

Go shopping. Who knows she may just have what you are looking for.

Sherrie Weitzel Interiors
Home Accessories, Gifts, and Design Services
4768 NW Bethan Blvd. Ste. C-1
Portland, Oregon 97220

Sep 17, 2007

Retirement= Hillsboro, Oregon

Reading the newspaper is just so much fun these days. Especially if you move right on to the inside pages. On Saturday my husband found an article in an "inside section" of our local paper telling about a new TV Channel called Retirement Living TV available on on satellite TV. Designed for ages 50+, it features health, discussion, seniors living and much more. Charles Hirschhorn, a former Disney Executive, is its chief creative officer. One of the shows is hosted by Gary Collins. So it seems all the pieces are in place for a TV channel that will appeal to the 50+ audience to succeed. Heaven only knows there is a need for it in a world that has always focused on the success of the youth market.

One feature coming up is about the 10 best places to
retire in the United States. Our Hillsboro, Oregon ( had made the list and I can see why. We have the world at our finger tips.

In our national award winning subdivision, Orenco Station, the developer provided us with work live town houses, parks, condos, cottages, brownstones. We have a pool, tennis courts and a neighborhood that encourages walking your dog, or walking your
mind. We have "Main Street" shopping featuring a New Seasons grocery, Kitchen Kaboodle, Starbucks, a pet store, 3 restaurants, dry cleaners, a wine shop and a dentist. Did I mention that a huge segment of the population in this part of town are senior citizens, most of whom are retired? Even better, we also have a wonderful mix of young professionals that brings an added dimension to our community.

Hillsboro has both a Saturday and Sunday markets, mass transit that takes us from down town all the way to the Portland International Airport (PDX) via the heart of beautiful
Portland, Oregon. There is Viola Walter's Performing Arts Center and parks that feature Disc Golf courses, horse shoe pits along with walking trails and play structures. This is all topped off with a temperate climate with hardly any snow. There are lots of golf courses the majority of which are public and very affordable. Hospitals with public education programs and wonderful clinics, amazing shopping centers, health food markets and a new library help seniors stay healthy both physically and mentally.

For those of you that live here, you know more about this than I do. But then we all like to brag about our community. When Retirement Living TV airs this show, I am thinking Hillsboro should be at the top of the list. How about you?

When you take our small town flavor and add our proximity to the beach, Mount Hood recreational area, Portland city center with it's restaurants, art scene, and museums, you have perfection. AND we have a landscape that is one of the most beautiful on earth. I am not sure you need to die in order to go to heaven.

Have a wonderful day!

PS. As you can see, even with the growing pains we are experiencing, we still love where we live.

Pictures from

*Note: I had to smile. I did a Google search yesterday trying to find out about this TV show and the obituaries came up. Google had made the connection between retirement and death! sigh!

Sep 14, 2007

Input From a Condo Owner

Just a quick update condo dwellers. After the news about our condo association was posted, a condo neighbor sent the Orenco Opinions an email. It said:

There is a committee in the process of being formed, with the remit of getting the remediation process on the road. This will be chaired by Stephanie (a board member) and she assured us that good communication would be one of the key issues.

Volunteers for the Landscape Committee stepped up, and a design consultation is being sought. Who knows what that will produce with regards to dead heading etc,. Having been on the landscape committee previously, I am only too well aware of the issues regarding planting in the beds and of the emotions that ensue from differences of opinion here.

There has always been an issue with regard to "do it yourself" repairs and safety issues and the Board is probably correct to insist that it be done by a contractor. The outside lights are a real problem, especially for Rainiers, as the light over the door is so high and requires a very tall step ladder. I can understand why the Board contracts this out but....does it really need to take so long to have a light bulb changed? I know to call a contractor for each light is not cost-effective, so I don't have the answers, but I think they need to look into this more.

So there you have it. When more information comes in O(orenco)O(opinions) will publish them for you.

Have a great day!

Sep 9, 2007

How many visits??? 524

Did you realize that this blog has received 524 visits from readers from around the world since July!!! I am truly amazed. The blog was started originally for those that live very close by. I think, though, that no mater where people live, they face the same success and problems when they live in close proximity to other people and share decisions about their homes.

We have already learned that we need to be involved, positive and comply with the rules. When it comes to interpretation of the rules we need to be present at all meetings to help the board make decision that affect our lives. If we don't attend meetings, we will not have our say and therefore, will probably not agree with the outcomes.

So we are being watched. Maybe our neighborhood can find solutions that can be used by other condo dwellers. We will all just have to wait and see.

Don't forget SEPTEMBER 11th.

*Fly or hang your flags.
*Attend your COA meeting in the Pool Pavilion.

Hope your weekend has been wonderful.

Sep 8, 2007

Pick ye wild flowers while you may!!!

Link Corinna's Going a Maying
Robert Herrick 1591-1674

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Her father always took her to pick wild flowers in the spring. He was an electrician for a mining company.. When the mechanic and the electrician sat to eat lunch together, they discussed which flowers were in bloom.

She loved the hikes on the hillside and when she was almost a woman she wore a full circle skirt covered with flowers. In the center of each flower someone had painstakingly added small rhinestones. When her father saw her standing
among the violas and pinks he thought that she was the most beautiful flower of them all.

He would always say "Pick ye wild flowers while you may!". Her heart still sings with the memory.


note: The wildflowers are from the neighboring fields on the way to Panera Cafe and Bakery.

Sep 6, 2007

Portland Japanese Garden

I did not go to the Japanese Gardens today. I had planned to but life got in the way and I stayed at home. A group of ladies from the neighborhood boarded Max this morning and I am sure had a wonderful time. The sun is shining now. It would have been a beautiful day for a visit. I am including a clip from the gardens made by Mike Darcey and is posted on You Tube. You should take a look if you are planning a visit.

Incidentally, the Max train does run on a schedule so check the times and you can catch it with out much of a wait.

Hope you all had a wonderful time.


COA Meeting September 11

(can be disassembled for painting and repairs)

For all of you that live in condos at Orenco Station.
The COA will be meeting September 11th.
Notice on time and location is posted
on the bulletin board in the mail room.
Be there with questions, concerns and solutions.

Sep 3, 2007


Sharing about what we are reading is one of the best conversation starters that I know. It seems everyone has read a book they want to talk about or want to know about one they have seen at the book store or library.

I, for one, am a lover of books and read every day. I just finish reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kaled Hoseini. Hoseini was the author of The Kite Runner and he has managed to give us another wonderful read.

Pattern Recognition
by William Gibson was a book my son-in-law chose. I borrowed it from him and was glad that I did. It is a mystery story set in the London/Tokyo/Russia in the year 2002. The Internet culture and its depth of interaction made for an interesting scenario. This is the eight book written by Gibson and will not be the last I read by this author. I would recommend it .

The book club I belong to is going to read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for it's next discussion. It looks like it is going to be fun to read and different from what we are accustomed to.

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