Jul 31, 2016

Where Has My "Outrage" Gone?

My husband and I went downtown yesterday to share the Portland (Oregon) Brewfest. This gathering of beer drinkers outnumbers pretty much any other like it both near and far. It is an event held the last weekend in July EVERY year.

We generally arrive downtown via our mass transit line and walk through the core area to the Willamette River waterfront. I love the walk and that beautiful urban area between Goose Hollow past the city library and beautiful shopping areas. It is home so what can I say.

Yesterday we stopped at a brewpub a couple of blocks from the brewfest to have a small dinner before heading home. We were willing to wait for a table outside. It was a beautiful day. I had a double plate of appetizer tacos and settled back to finish my glass of wine.

The rental bikes that are the new rage here in Portland were everywhere and traffic was being very cautious because of it. The world passed at our feet.

A red Toyota was parked directly in front of us and I remember noticing the beautiful wax job and how immaculate it was. The owner of the car was about to drive away when another man dressed in running clothes hurried to catch the car before it drove away.

There, not ten feet from me a drug deal was completed and the buyer turned away avoiding our eyes. The dealer didn't even change expressions as he pulled out into traffic.

My husband and I looked at each other and neither of us changed expressions either. It was at that moment that I wondered where my sense of outrage had gone. In fact, I took another drink of wine and continued to enjoy our day out.

Don't you find that interesting? What is happening to us?  Hmmmmm!

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Jul 27, 2016

Writing Colonel Sanders a Check

My granddaughter can be a
little obstinate! She was about
two in this photo.
In the summer I spend a great deal of my time with grandchildren. In the winter I spend a great deal of time with my husband and friends. They are very different worlds and they both make me happy.

This summer has been a whirlwind of grandchildren from morning until night. July is always the busiest but this year I began tutoring a grandson two days a week so there will not be a change until fall. I like the routine and have fallen into it easily.

I like returning to a small part of my work life before retirement. When I was in the classroom, I could keep as a dozen all in the air. Multi-tasking was not a problem in that place. Every child in that classroom knew that if they asked me for something, even though they may have to wait, I would remember them and give them the help they needed. My grandson is learning that he can trust me. It is good.

HOWEVER, when I was a young mother I did not work because it would have been either-or! I only worked part of time as a substitute teacher. If it had been full time, one job would have gone undone and I am thinking it would have been the mothering job that was left to do itself. My husband worked 24/7 so he was not up for doing 1/2 of that job.

I remember one especially challenging week when it seemed as though the walls would cave in on us. Teens here and there, school function for my husband, I was substitute teaching for the school district. Then there was food. Who was going to cook? I was at the end of my rope.

Someone mentioned Kentucky Fried Chicken. I could not make it to the car fast enough and we all piled in and set out to get an order of extra crispy. Mashed potatoes and coleslaw were ordered as sides and I took out my checkbook to pay. That was when I wrote the check out to Colonel Sanders.

See, multi-tasking can be a challenge for me. And believe it or not, the cashier took my check. It is probably hanging in someone's office right now because I won the award for the doofiest woman ever to cross their threshold. Sigh!

The day in the life of a retiree can be fun. Let's hope that I can keep all the balls in the air for about 6 more weeks. I am betting on me but who knows.

How's your summer going?

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Jul 24, 2016

In My Humble Opinion...Trump, Black Lives, World Tumult, Gun Control, Abortion

I suppose I need to talk about the news sooner or later and now is as good a time as any. In a lot of ways, every post I write is about the world we live in but, because this is my blog, I get to ignore a whole lot of what occurs on a very bad day. Today is my day of reckoning. A few words are in order just so you will know where I stand.

Black Live Matter...well of course they matter. Unless you can find some personal experience that allows you to understand how a black person feels when they are stopped by the police, you cannot even begin to appreciate what is going on.

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If you have ever felt fear as you are trapped by someone with ALL the power in the world and is holding a gun, then you can understand how bad things can happen. Just the wrong word or motion can lead to a death. My heart goes out to people that live with that fear everyday. I am a white woman whose life also matters but I am white so I have no idea how a person of color feels.

On the other side of the coin are all those police officers that are also afraid. They have my sympathy too. I don't want to walk in their shoes either.

The World is a Very Bad place...I will agree but don't ever tell me that it is worse than it has ever been. Even the horrible shootings in Munich don't begin to compare to the past. Keeping perspective is hard but we really must not let ourselves sink into a pot of self-pity because today or yesterday was not perfect. WE can make a difference.

Donald Trump is an idiot/savior of the world! See, the thing is we get to vote. Both Democrats and Republicans. If you or someone feels like we are danger from this man they need to vote for the person that is the less of the two evils. If we don't, it is as though they have voted for him anyway. Think about it! (Note: Michael Bloomberg, Dem. turned Rep. turned Independent turned Dem., is endorsing Clinton because he is very alarmed.)

Hillary Clinton is a criminal and should be put in prison...this one puzzles me because those people that made the decisions on the law say she did not commit a crime. I suppose that the talk show hosts are stirring this pot but who knows. I'm going with the law because I am all about our country being based on our willingness to obey the law even when we don't agree. And I think that slander is slander.

Building a Wall to Keep Them Out...I am very a torn about illegal aliens. I am worry about children but I also wonder what part of illegal those people didn't get. It is a hard hearted way to see things. I do know that those people that come here legally wait a very long time to gain admission to the United States. I admire those people for their honesty and tenacity. Oh, and I don't think the fences we have built so far have worked at all. There might be a better way.

Abortion...this is such a complicated issue that I don't think we'll ever figure it out. Babies are so precious and should not die at our hands. In my world, no woman would ever be pregnant unless she wants to be. I think rape victims or those that live in compromised circumstances (homeless, drug users) need to take a day after pill. The pills should be readily available. The Catholic Church and any other group that is so visible in opposition to abortion should be spending their time getting information and supplies to woman so unwanted pregnancies do not happen. In that scenario, an unwanted pregnancy might be a burden that could be endured and all babies would be welcome...in my perfect world!

Gun Control...I don't like guns but I prefer for a person that is carrying a gun to do it in plain site. I can cross the street if I feel threatened. I don't think guns are good for anything unless one needs to kill an animal to eat. Otherwise they need to be locked away. AND I am not a fan of the NRA.
But then that is just me.

Mass Murder, Homelessness and Mental Illness...It seems to me that we don't want to deal with the culprits here. Mental illness is truly rampant and needs our attention all of the time. We ignore so many people because they are different when we should be asking ourselves if as a society we are paying the taxes needed to provide for solving the problem. I believe that mental illness and our gun laws are are working hand in hand to create chaos. I have no idea how to stop the violence and loss of human dignity but someone somewhere does. We need to hear their voice.

I'm glad we had this little talk. As a disclaimer here, you should know that I might change my mind. That happens you know.

So, what do you think? Is there a hot button issue that you have been avoiding?




Jul 20, 2016

Pokémon GO Is Here....Really!

I wondered what in the name of heaven was going on. Young people, people in cars and more young people kept wandering into our neighborhood. And as the days passed, more and more came.

We live in a 55+ neighborhood on a private street. It puzzled me as to what they were doing and why all of a sudden old people were on their watch list.

Then all H""LL broke loose...and trust me, there is not much excitement around here so when there is and it becomes a 55+ neighborhood's version of a firestorm, I sit up and notice.

Our private street, gazebo and catch basin were by occupied Pokémon GO players. Now I am not against video games or having strangers take a walk in my neighborhood. But when it became a constant stream of traffic on foot and in cars, we all got a little edgy! It was different and we do not like that. :)
When Pokemon Go players see the sign, they
turn around and leave...very odd!

They occupied our little park at night. That is where a gazebo sits in our neighbor's backyards. They sat in the catch basin near the entrance until the wee hours of the morning giggling and talking.

Signs were placed around the neighborhood banning Pokemon players and we gathered in the garage entrances to watch for intruders. Honestly, it was hilarious!

Our local library welcomes players AND
they can charge their phones too!
And there was cussing and stuff...I'm sorry but I am laughing because normally everything is so quiet around here. I am always up for something...anything that makes people's blood rise! It is fun...in fact I am not above stirring in the pot just for the heck of it.

So, the beat goes on. Our streets are getting tar sealed today so couples are gathered on the sidewalk watching construction...see what I mean? I love my life and I absolutely adore my neighbors. Smile!

Oh, and did I mention? The stream of Pokemon Players continue to come!

Have a wonderful day!

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Note:
All my grandchildren want to come and visit us and sit in OUR backyard...they love Pokemon Go!


Jul 18, 2016

The Offer I Refused!

We traveled from Hanoi north to Sapa situated very near the base of the Himalayas.
I received an offer to apply for an audition the other day. The sender wanted me to tell about how I had gotten to be so lucky and maybe brag about some mountain I had climbed. It was all about being wild, reckless and daring in retirement. Even though the pay was substantial, I turned it down. But not for the reason you might imagine.

Actually my husband and I have done some pretty awesome things in the last 10 years that give me the right to brag. So it wasn't the mountain climbing that stopped me in my tracks. It was the part about explaining how we had came to be so fortunate at this time in our life.

Yes, we walked this trail...no railings, each step different!
2 miles later straight down at the floor of the gorge!
They wanted me to tell what decisions we made when we were young that gave us the money to do what we want right now. There really is no way to guide others to do what we did. The simple fact is we stayed the course. We didn't dabble with our money or take it out here and put it there. The retirement plan we were offered survived and in that we were lucky!

Our adult children, spouses and my daughter-in-law's mother in the center.
But I have to say that what we did sacrifice for was the education of our children. That was the really big investment we made. It was not easy. No debt followed them into life. Now we are sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our labors. That investment has changed the quality of our retirement in ways I cannot even describe. It is wonderful.

The fact that they share in our life is beyond amazing. We are very very lucky people.

Note: Oh by the way, it was my oldest son that invited us to travel with his family and friends to Vietnam. He was the first of our children to graduate from college. He now has his masters and is working on his doctorate. The seeds we planted continue to grow!

Have a wonderful day!

Have you been offered the chance to audition for an online commercial on retirement?

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Jul 17, 2016

Oh my gosh, I'm going to have to tell Carole!

My friend and I always miss each other a great deal when we come back home. We love the winter in Arizona, eat together once in awhile and talktalktalk. Our parting words every spring are "Don't you go and die on me!" I know it is strange but Carole and I is like that.

She has lost many friends in the past few years because she has so many friends to lose. It makes her sad. I don't like for Carole to be sad. So this story is all about keeping Carole happy.


Carole in Red!
I have had a kinda a rough spring/summer season. It all started with a place on my nose, a burn on my hand and an allergy season that beat anything. All in all, I was the walking wounded. But, if you knew me, you would know that I don't pay much attention to my health. Every day I wake up grateful, and make a concerted effort to avoid thinking about my aches and pains.

A long time can pass before I actually begin to realize that I am sick.

But I am a good little camper and I do have my blood tested on time and get the usual checks. I don't want to die of being lazy.

That is why I had my blood tested a couple of weeks ago. A few days later my doctor's nurse called and wanted me to come back in for a follow up visit to discuss the results. That had never happened before. I was suffering with breathing problems that always are a worry but had gotten a new med that was working wonders. So what was the problem? I was a little worried.

I thought I could figure out what the doctor was going to say before I went in if I look at the test result again. After all how hard could it be. By simply clicking the small information icon I was lead to pages and pages of information for what each result could mean. I actually read what each and every number on the "test result" information indicated. Oh-my-gosh...I am going to die.

Yes, I am dizzy (if I tilt my head just right).
Yes, my vision is a little blurred (when I look out of corner of my eye).
Yes, when I raise my arms up really high, I have a shooting pain (once in awhile).
And my glucose was getting high...not good.
Yes, yes, yes.
I think I have cancer or anemia or maybe I am developing Alzheimer! This is NOT good.
Darn!

Then I began to think how sad my grandchildren were going to be. I was sure that my husband would not know what to do.

As I was stewing I remembered Carole...OH MY GOSH! I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO TELL CAROLE I WAS DYING! Darn, Darn, Darn! That was the one thing of all the things that occurred to me that I really did not want to do! She would be sad and pity me and I couldn't figure out how to hide the fact that I was dead! Again, darn darn darn!

I am sure you have figured out that my imagination was running wild for no reason. It is all good. I am not dying and I am not diabetic and won't be until the cows come home. My doctor reprimanded me for not walking more, sent me to a class on a better diet and is making me more aware of how health issues will play out. No more head in the sand for me. Like that old ironing basket I talked about yesterday, there will be no hiding from myself.

As for Carole, she never reads my blog so she will never be any the wiser. Isn't that wonderful. Life is good.

And, I will never, never read all those warnings and information on my health care website. That stuff just plain scares me.

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Jul 16, 2016

What's Hiding in Your Ironing Basket?

I would rather garden than iron...wrinkles don't matter there!
If there is someone out there that likes to iron, I want to hear from them. I, for one, don't mind and actually like it...occasionally. The outcome is very satisfying and, yes, it is relaxing.

But, if you asked me to do it once a week or as the clothes came out of the dryer, I would simply pretend I did not hear you. Ironing is what the "housekeeping fairy" would be asked to do if she ever offered to come to my house.

When my daughter was in college I asked her once where the students in her dorm ironed. She paused, tilted her head thinking for a moment and told me she had never seen anyone iron! There you go...perfect!

Still, even in this day and age, wash and wear is not the norm. My solution is to either hang things up unironed in the hope that on the day that I decide to wear an outfit I will be in the mood to press the obvious wrinkles out or I stack things in the basket next to the ironing board until the pile is high and my closet is empty. Who knows, maybe the wrinkles will simply "fall out" and I will be good to go.

The ironing basket can become an archeological dig of sorts. Those clothes that need throwing away might go in there. My husband clothes that I don't like may hide under the t-shirts. Curtains taken down and that can't find a storage spot, arm covers for chairs and cloth napkins gather lint at the bottom of the basket. When I dig into it every few month I may find underwear, dish towels and that sock that went missing.

I have come to think of the ironing basket as a place to hide from myself. When I don't' want to face my future and past, I hide those places away for some future day when it does not seem impossible. Then for a few hours or minutes I deal with it all.

What are you hiding in your laundry basket?

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Jul 10, 2016

Searching for a Better Weatherman

I figured out that finding the right weatherman/woman is very important right after my husband and I retired. I know I have told you before but in case you missed it, my husband is my go to news and weather forcast source and I have to make sure that he is looking in the right place for the weather report. I edit his news reports by simply not listening to all that bad stuff. Otherwise my whole day may be ruined.

The flowers love the weather...me not so much!
For the 2 past summers we have sweltered in heat here in the northwest USA. It was as though we had been plopped down in a subtropical climate somewhere else. Things grew like crazy, the air conditioner ran night and day and drought was a dreadful likelihood on the horizon. For some reason, I expected that to happen again this year.

But no...not at all. When things were normal (whatever that is) we would get warm weather after the 4th of July. It does not look good for us this year. Those of us that love the sun are in a pickle. This is where a very good weatherman comes in.

With the news, we know everything immediately. With the weather we know everything...10 days in advance.  I prefer not to know but if I do I want it to be fed to me in a nice little package of positive thinking.

If it is going to be cloudy I want to hear that the sun will shine, even if it is only for 15 minutes in the afternoon. If it is going to rain again, I want to hear that it will be dry for the most part of the day.

So, I am on the prowl. A new summer weatherman is need around here.

Have a wonderful day.

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Jul 7, 2016

The 1950s in Hindsight and Being Honest With Ourselves


Life is a lot different when it is viewed from the rear view mirror. The fact that everything is backwards in real time reveals what we want to believe about the past.

In the review I wrote in my last post, the time frame for the setting was the early 1950s. I would have been 10 or 11 much like the boy that was the main character in Ivan Doig's The Last Bus to Wisdom. In the story Donal was put on a Greyhound bus to travel for several day alone. He was being sent to stay with his aunt while his grandma had surgery. When I think about that now I cannot believe that anyone would have actually done that even in that time. Not anyone that knew who traveled on the Greyhound bus!

Under the blanket that the post WWII generation covered itself with was hidden a much darker time. But putting on a happy face and pretending that nothing bad ever happened was more the norm than not.

Even the veterans that talked to reporters in documentaries hid the damage that was done to their hearts and souls. The face they revealed to the world was lived out in success stories. Looking back I see that all that was not good is hidden.

When a child of that era thinks about those times they know what was "really" going on and you can bet none of us were put on a Greyhound bus to travel for days.

The trains still had conductors and as an early teen I would travel for a few hours to visit my aunt and uncle. The warning to never talk to strangers and always sit alone still echo in my ears.

Hoboes hung around the railroad yard near us and I remember a friend and I ran into one on a hike one summer day. That hobo beared no resemblance to Doigs down and out nice hobos in the story. It was one of the scariest encounters I have ever had in my life. To this day I am not sure how we escaped that man alive. Our parents thought we were safe when we wandered around but the truth is we really weren't

The media was not allowed to reveal anything that was seedy or perverted. Movies were censored. McCarthyism was running rampant so anyone that had a different opinion from the Republican agenda was considered to be a communist. The truth was the country was even hiding from itself.

It needs saying over and over...THINGS WERE NOT BETTER BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS! When we keep the real story in mind, we appreciate the world we live in today a lot more. At least we are more honest with ourselves about life.

It is just a thought!

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Jul 5, 2016

Books: "Last Bus to Wisdom" and Being Ordinary Like Me

I really don't enjoy reading books about ordinary people that go about lives of quiet desperation. It doesn't take me out of my own world enough to make me feel as though I have escaped.

I consider myself to be a very ordinary person. While I may have a few bragging rights, most of my life has been spent being careful. In fact, I have trained myself to be quieter than I would like. I don't cuss or use dirty words easily and most of my time these days is spent making what we have useful and in some way beautiful. While being ordinary is nice, it is not what I want to read.

And then comes along Ivan Doig with another story about people I might have lived next door to and much to my surprise, I am hooked. What I find ordinary is not what other people have lived or seen.

I have read many of Doig's books over the years. The first was Dancing at the Rascal Fair back when  I was in my late 30's. I struggled with it because the life of the immigrants coming to eastern Montana was hard and lonely. While it was interesting, I just didn't want to visit that place even in my mind.

Since that time I have read several other books written by this remarkable writer of the western story. The latest released that came after his death last year was like many of his other stories in that it reflected what almost felt like an autobiography to me. He always made me sense that he had lived the story from the first page.

The Last Bus to Wisdom was set in the 1950's. It was a different time. I think that innocence resonated through the whole story and really reflect the way we remember that era in the west. Hoboes were just down and out and even the thieves weren't all that bad or frightening. A story that revolves around a boy left on his own to travel across the country on the "Dog Bus" seems unlikely to us today. His uncertainty and fear hid behind a belief in the hope that the charm of an arrowhead and a pair of Indian moccasins would keep him safe. In his wicker suitcase he carried an autograph book that he clung to throughout the story. His goal was to collect other people's wisdom and to learn new cuss words and about sex. He was about 10. Amazon review tells us:
Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Ivan Doig’s beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old’s imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery for “female trouble” in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise: Aunt Kate–bossy, opinionated, argumentative, and tyrannical—is nothing like her sister. She henpecks her good-natured husband, Herman the German, and Donal can’t seem to get on her good side either. After one contretemps too many, Kate packs him back to the authorities in Montana on the next Greyhound. But as it turns out, Donal isn’t traveling solo: Herman the German has decided to fly the coop with him. In the immortal American tradition, the pair light out for the territory together, meeting a classic Doigian ensemble of characters and having rollicking misadventures along the way.
Like so many books I have read throughout my life, the real story was hidden from me until I bought into the idea that I wanted to go along on the adventure. This was a very good book I think, maybe one of Doig's best. But I will let people that know more about the value of books and the story of ordinary people to make the final judgement. I live too close to that world.

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Willa Cather may have been one of the first American authors to write about ordinary people. I love One of Ours and My Antonia.

Jul 1, 2016

Just Your Ordinary Oregon/Washington Sunday Drive...WOW!

My husband and I took a Sunday drive last weekend. You would think that after living in Oregon for all of our lives we would grow tired of traveling all those off the beaten path places. But all that is beautiful about the Northwest never changes. That is what keeps us coming back for more!

This time we took the Washington side of the Columbia River and traveled from Portland through Vancouver, Wa. about 120 miles to a crossing east of The Dalles at a place called Biggs Junction. The route is called the Lewis and Clark Highway.

When you take this short trip, you go from the green verdant mountains into the arid part of Washington and Oregon. You can see the transition in the photos. 

Mt. Hood was showing off for us that day. This beauty is very near Portland.
The trip East ended at Maryville Winery and we took the bridge back across the Columbia River and traveled west back home. I hope you enjoy the pictures. We had a glorious day!
The Columbia is a very busy water highway from the Pacific east all the way to Kennewick Wa. Cruise ships carry visitors from Portland up river.
Lunch at a little restaurant called Clark and Lewie's in Stevenson had us sitting on the deck overlooking that beautiful Columbia.
This beautiful winery overlooks the Columbia and
feature an amphitheater that will seat 5000 I am told.
View from the deck of the winery. The cliffs above the Columbia have turned brown but vineyard line the hillside where possible.
The amphitheater can be seen just past the deck.

Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend...be safe and enjoy!