Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Note the new blog link on the right, Cake Wrecks.
Thank you Ellen, it is hil-arious.
And a little bit naughty sometimes.
So be warned.
But only a little bit.

Also, check out the David Bowie song at the top of my playlist.
It was quite popular in the 70's on the radio and as unlike any other DB song as you can imagine.
There are a couple of his songs from "Labyrinth" on the list as well.
Osborne kids take note.
And any of my peers that fell secretly in love with David when they saw the movie.
Go on, admit it, you did too!



And one more.
My favourite.
Just want to eat David Bowie up in this one.


Mmmm-mm.

American beauty

The first time I set foot in Oregon I knew I wanted to live here. It was green, hilly, and uncrowded. It had four seasons a year, unlike Southern California. It took a little finangling, but four years later we headed north. With two kids riding shotgun, a third one almost due, a big truck and a little Toyota Starlet packed to the roof with our belongings.

And here we are.
Still.
Till we die.
Our burial plots, recently purchased, are in an idyllic little cemetery on the mountain that overlooks our house.

Jeff and I spent the weekend at the beach. It was relaxing, with reading, crocheting, and crossword-puzzle-solving being high on the list of activities. We did, however, try a little hike at Cascade Head, just north of Lincoln City. The trail-heads are quite hard to find, but after a little reconnaissance, we found the north entrance. It is a six-mile, one-way hike. Knowing we weren't in the mood for 12 miles, we decided to hike in for a while and then turn around.

The forest was in its usual state of dampness and we found many weird and wonderful fungus specimens growing on old logs. Here are some of the best ones.


Some of them were just growing in the damp, brown, fertile soil of the forest, like these.


Several times along the trail I almost jumped out of my skin when one of these brown frogs hopped off into the undergrowth.
Jeff said, "You scared it."
"Well," I said,"It scared me!"


The woods were beautiful, with a palette of brilliant greens and rich browns dotted with the yellows and purples of tiny wildflowers. It must have been a rugged winter on the coast because the trail was criss-crossed with fallen trees.



Jeff mostly went over them.
I, of course, mostly went under them.
THEN
we came to some places that had been washed out, trees uprooted.


I gamely struggled on, thinking that things HAD to get better soon.
Didn't they?
But no.
We climbed down yet another little ravine, turned a corner, and saw THIS.
My nemesis.


This one looked too much like spelunking for my taste.
I have lost my yen for the derring-do.
We turned around.
Defeated.
Except for we did have a very nice hike.
At least a couple of miles.
Enough to justify a piece or two of rhubarb cake when we got back to the beach house.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lucky me


Thursday afternoon.
Daniel asks, "Nana, can I spend the night?"
"Sure."

A little later, Joshua walks up and asks, batting his little eyelashes over his lovely blue eyes, "Nana, can I spend the night too?"
"Oh, okay!"

Last of the Summer Wine



Grape juice in the making.
Oh, I hope we're at home when these are ready to use.

Mom angst

Charlie is coming home.

I have been feeling a strange malaise the last couple of weeks. It's hard to explain, but my default mood of happiness has abandoned me. Which is odd, because it's summer and I have been able to indulge in lots of my favourite activities. Playing with the grandchildren, evenings spent with the local offspring, lunches with women friends, a satisfying amount of work, outings with Jeff, outdoor concerts, puddling around the garden, riding the bikes, lots of time for reading, a calm and tidy house, exciting trips to anticipate. These things usually bring me joy. But lately, when I am left to my own devices I revert to inactivity and mindless diversions and a general feeling of ennui. My lazy self is gaining dominance.

Ennui.
Of French origin.
Describing EXACTLY how I feel.
Boredom, languor, listlessness, tedium.
States of being for which I normally have no tolerance.
Antonyms: bouyancy, enthusiasm, energy, vigour.
I usually lean towards the antonym end of the scale.


What, then, is my problem?
The only anomaly on the horizon of which I can think is that Charlie is coming home for a few short days before deployment to Iraq.
Maybe I am not as mentally steeled against the prospect as I imagined.
He is, after all, my baby.
Albeit a strong and manly, tending towards the ornery, baby.

Charlie came at the end of a particularly horrendous pregnancy. For him, I endured nine months of constant vomiting and twice-daily self-administered heparin shots in my ever-expanding stomach. My dear Dr. Weil called it my "psychadelic stomach." It was every shade of the bruising spectrum, from purple to green to yellow. I had hoped to have another baby after Charlie, thinking he would be a lonely little soul, six years behind Annie. But it was not to be. Just as I had feared, Charlie would be almost like an only child at times, needing friends to fill the place that his three siblings often filled for each other.
He was an angelic baby, the delight of all of our lives. Blue eyes, blond curly hair, and a happy disposition. He loved pieces of string, empty boxes, playing with friends, and being outside. If you were to accuse us of doting on him, you would be correct.

As the years went by, Charlie was shaped to some extent by the people who loved him, his family and friends, and by the difficulties we have all shared. He has always been gregarious and charismatic, drawing people to him in numbers that are unprecedented in our family. The last few years were quite troublesome in many ways, yet he always had that fan base, especially at church, of people who loved him unconditionally. For which I will always be grateful, because sometimes they loved him when I found it hard. When he comes home on leave now, his time is spent frenetically connecting with those friends. And I'm okay with it.

Here he is, on his last leave, at Abby's pizza with a whole squadron of friends.


Charlie in one of his favourite roles, that of uncle.


Charlie, songwriter and musician.


This was at the dance festival in Portland. Charlie was well known for his break-dancing and hip-hop skills. Turns out he dances a mean ballroom too.


Brother and sister, before their birthday outing to see Rascal Flatts. Did I mention they are both big country music fans?


Charlie the patriot.


Charlie the Marine. Dead centre of the photo.


Charlie loves to have fun. Especially on roller coasters.


Now what?
Might have to hit Jeff up for some TLC.
For a change.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jet Blue II



I have posted briefly about my fondness for Jet Blue before.
I love their comfortable seats, the direct flights, the customer service, the individual TV screens, and the UNLIMITED SNACKS. What I didn't love was their exorbitant cancellation and change fees. $100 to cancel a flight that might only cost $75. No.Thank.You.

Today, while checking online about changing the flight that I booked for Charlie to go back to San Diego after his leave, I discovered that they have changed the fee for flights costing under $100 to $50.
Okay, I thought, here's progress.
But that doesn't help us this time.
So hoping for some mercy from customer service, I called 1 800 JET BLUE.
I was not disappointed.
Jet Blue has now waived all cancellation fees for active military personnel and their immediate families.

THANK YOU JET BLUE.
You remain, without reservation, my best airline.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Leonard who?



Somehow, I made it through the 60' and 70's without any awareness of Leonard Cohen.
Then, about two years ago, I read one of Neo-Neocon's posts on the man.
After a few viewings on YouTube, I was an avid fan.
He is a bit of an acquired taste.
Songwriter and singer extraordinaire.
He is now in his 70's and still going strong.
He is on tour this year, due to some setbacks in his finances, and they say he puts on an unparalleled concert.
I think I prefer the deep, gravelly bass of his later years than the more conventional sound of his younger voice. Think "Neil Diamond on steroids."
If you are in a romantic mood (or want to be in one) check out this video.

Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled on most of his songs.

Leonard also wrote "Hallelujah," one of the greatest songs of all time. In my opinion. Although I prefer the Jeff Buckley version. Which makes me feel kind of disloyal.

Leonard.
He's My Man.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slip-slidin' away

This time of year, during the dog days of summer, is not my favourite. This year especially, with most of the fun stuff behind us and the days dragging until our next adventures. Waiting for Charlie to come home on his last leave before deployment.


Did you ever wonder, "What ARE the dog days of summer and why do we call them that?"
Well, here I am, with a little help from Wikipedia, to answer the question.
Originally, the Dog Days were the days when Sirius, the Dog Star, rose just before or at the same time as sunrise. This is no longer true, due to some kind of astronomical change with a big name. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, as shown in the above photo. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
This image, of Sirius A and its little brother, Sirius B, was taken by the Hubble telescope.


Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies" according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium. Whatever that is.

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say "evil," but the middle days of summer generally defeat me.
I lose control of my garden. Black spot engulfs the weaker specimens of rose bushes. Weeds win the war in less visible flowerbeds as my determination declines. The grass gets brown patches that highlight the inadequacies of our underground sprinkler system. Dead mimosa blossoms litter the front yard as I contemplate chopping the tree down for good. Watering the vegetable beds with the hose in the evening no longer charms me. Bees become somnolent and prone to sting.
Although here, in the centre of the picture, is one little bee who will enjoy these dog days no more. He is caught in a spider web. The spider was rushing in and out to the struggling bee from the shelter of the kabocha squash. By the time I returned with my camera the spider must have bitten the bee because its struggles were fading and the spider was merely biding its time.


On the other hand, the grape vines are laden with bunches of green, hard fruit. The lemon cucumbers are producing magnificently. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen and squash need only a few more weeks of sunshine to fulfill their destinies. Potato plants have been tested and found to be producing, even if not prolifically. Carrots, parsnips, and kohlrabi are producing modestly. Lots of little banana peppers are hanging from healthy plants. Most of the flower beds are behaving with decorum, hosting a minimum of weeds and nurturing colourful flowers. We survived the week of 100 degree plus temperatures and were blessed with a day or two of rain.

We can count the accomplishments of the summer so far:
Annie is happily (make that ecstatically) married.
Lots of memories made with Mum.
Lazy days in the back garden with the grandchildren.
A solid show of participation in Newberg Old Fashioned Days.
Several Tunes on Tuesday concerts.
A nice weekend in Astoria.
A kitchen remodeled.
A few trips to the Mustard Seed, with more to come.
Pizza cooked awesomely for the first time on the barbecue.
Oh yes, a new stove!
Several memorable barbecues with family and friends.

I shall just reflect on these triumphs and try to hold myself together until September.
And await Jonnie's corrections on the bee and spider story.
Because, you know, they will both arrive very soon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Men's and women's brains

Sorry for all the videos lately.
Last one for a while, I promise.
Jeff sent me this one
It is hilarious and oh-so-true.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Playlist

For those of you who like my eclectic taste in music, I have added to the playlist and rearranged the tracks. It is also on shuffle mode, so that you can be surprised.

Pleasantly, I hope.

Leonard Cohen takes a more prominent position.
Lisa Hannigan has been added.
Also, some Cliff Richards.

Ah, bliss.

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 7

And so, we end where we began.
With a TEA PARTY!


Or, for a slightly different experience, try this one.


Gotta love YouTube.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 6

Jeff likes this one.
Now, there was a man you could respect.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 5

You know, some of the lyrics to Lloyd's songs are a little corny, but he is passionate about his beliefs, whether they be political or spiritual, and unafraid of expressing them.
And THAT I admire.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blue Shoes and Happiness


Today's quote is from the seventh book in the series.
Today's quote, you say?
It didn't mean to be, but so it is.
Don't worry, only one more book to go.
Until I start the next series.
Which, I am sure, will be just as quotable.

Mma Ramotswe had been shocked when she had read in a magazine about a famous chef somewhere overseas who threw cold soup over the heads of his junior staff if they did not measure up to his expectations. He swore at them too, which was almost as bad. To use strong language, she thought, was a sign of bad temper and lack of concern for others. Such people were not clever or bold simply because they used such language; each time they opened their mouths they proclaimed "I am a person who is poor in words."

Amen to that.
I am reminded of a quotation which I cannot verify, but goes something like "Obscenity is the attempt of an inferior mind to express itself forcefully."

Do I have to stop saying "crap?"

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 4

This one is for Bethany, who feels passionately about such subjects.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 3

Ooooh, I can hardly stand it! I have a whole week's worth of posts all ready to go, but have self-imposed a "one-a-day" policy for this week.
If you want to see more of Lloyd the man, go here to see his online news show on YouTube.

Lloyd's faith is expressed in this video.
He has lived quite the life of contrasts.
Check out his bio to read all about it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies


I am loving this series. Every now and then I crack up from the quirky wisdom that is uttered by the various characters. And sometimes, I am just plain awed by the wisdom.
Take these sentences from the end of this book, the sixth in the series:
She loved this country, which was a good place, and she loved those with whom she lived and worked. She had so much love to give - she had always felt that - and now there was someone to whom she could give this love, and that, she knew, was good; for that is what redeems us, that is what makes our pain and sorrow bearable - this giving of love to others, this sharing of the heart.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 2

This is for all you Sarah Palin lovers, of whom Lloyd is definitely one.
Although, don't get me wrong, he is happily married to his Mary.
By the way, if you already looked at yesterday's video, watch it again. I had an older version embedded. The new one is much more fun to watch.

Lloyd Marcus Week: Day 1

In honour of the Taxpayer Protest March in Washington DC on September 12th (you KNOW I'll be there!) I hereby declare the first week of August to be...
....ta daaaah.....
LLOYD MARCUS WEEK.


Go here to read more about the man and to see his answer to the "Stockholm Syndrome" comments.
The man describes himself as a Proud Black Conservative.
He is also an amazing musical talent.
I dare you to listen to the video and not be humming the tune for the next hour.

Stay tuned for a week of LLOYD MARCUS videos.
More fun than conservatives have had in America for, well, EVER!