Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nana's new pal

I'm in North Carolina.
Which I probably couldn't find on a map.
But here I am.
Annie and Edwin live outside of Spring Lake, a few miles from Fort Bragg, which is where Edwin works every day. Lately, he has been working excruciatingly long hours, rigging and packing supplies for Haiti. We're proud of our boy.
Annie is about ten weeks pregnant and doing the family thing, throwing up all the time. I managed to coax her out for some shopping on Thursday. I had to, you see, because I threw out their non-stick pots. They were in sad condition and probably very unhealthy. We hit Ross and TJMaxx in Fayetteville and found some nice stainless steel pots with thick layered bottoms. I love a good pot.
Earlier that day I took Roxy for a walk. It was a balmy day, almost like summer. Roxy is a Labrador/German Shepherd mix and is a sweetie, but she is not leash trained. Me, I have never owned a dog. Needless to say, our first walk was interesting. I spent most of the time spinning in circles, trying to untangle myself from the leash as she wrapped it around me. Then, as soon as we headed for home, I could hardly keep up with her.

Ellen gave me some tips, so I tried again on Friday. Every time Roxy pulled on the leash, I either turned around and walked in the other direction, or stopped and pulled up on the leash. We made slow, slow progress. Even Roxy was starting to look up at me like I was crazy, so who knows what the neighbourhood thought.

I think that by the time we got home, she was starting to get the idea.
Today, my shoulder feels wrenched.
Thanks Roxy.

For some reason, now she loves me best of all. Last night, Annie called her to go back to the bedroom when she went to bed and Roxy wanted to stay with me.
Smart dog.
She knows what all my grandkids have learned.
Nana loves her best!

I was hoping to get out and continue our walks today, but we woke up to snow covered with ice. A strangely inconsiderate turn of the weather, especially since the warmest thing I brought with me was my raincoat.
I sometimes think that I would like to have a dog.
But then I remember three things.
Dog smell.
Dog poop.
Dog hair.
And I think maybe I'll just be Nana and come visit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anniversary presents

Today when I got home from work there were heart balloons in the driveway, a nicely decorated table, and lasagna smells emanating from the kitchen.
Bethany and Jenny were making dinner for us, while Jon watched all the kids in his apartment.

I should have taken photos before we ate, but I forgot.

Instead, here is the kaleidoscope we bought from the Freed Gallery in Lincoln City. I can hardly put it down, the images are so spectacular.

And this original drawing by Ken Dust.

And finally, a collage of some of the images from the kaleidoscope.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blue skies and wet feet

On Saturday, we took a long walk. It was a rare day at the coast, sunny with almost no wind. Here are some random photos from our walk.

We decided to brave the tide pools. It's always a bit dodgy, Jeff with his bum knee and me with no balance. The rocks were slick with seaweed, but we were doing okay until a sneaker wave caught us out pretty far and drenched our lower legs. I thought Jeff might get washed off his rock, but he kept his footing. Too bad I missed the moment, it would have been a good photo.

People still collect agates, although they are few and far between these days. Agates, not people.

These boys were having a grand time, building moats and throwing sand all over each other.

If you want to see a collage of all the photos I took on our walk, go here.

Clam chowder, reprised

Maybe I've been blogging for too long.
I was all set to blog about my search for the perfect bowl of clam chowder,when I realized I had said it all before.
But I did find another glorious bowl of chowder at the Blackfish Cafe in Lincoln City.
Jeff thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips, which made up for the perfectly awful identical dinner we ate at McMenamins the night before.

Because we were celebrating our anniversary, this complimentary homemade DingDong was ours to enjoy. I almost think it was the best part of the meal. Chocolate-y, creamy, and not too sweet.

I ordered this creme caramel, but it was a little too rich on a full stomach... Jeff let me finish off the DingDong. Which is what all good husbands should do.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The winner is....!
Every week, I hopefully enter KINK FM's contests of the week.
Three times:
One for me.
One for Jeff.
And one for Charlie.
(That's as many email addresses as I can monitor.)
I win quite frequently.
Well, once or twice a year.
I gave it up for a few weeks because I hadn't won anything for a while, but decided to start up again about a month ago. Shortly after starting up again, I won tickets to go see "Snow Falling on Cedars", the play. I was a little dubious, not having been to see a play for a long time. But it was free, and I was curious to see how the playwright had adapted it for the stage. For the price of parking, $5, we had an entertaining night out. The play was astoundingly well done, the audience was rapt, and the venue was pleasant. The building is in the Pearl District in an old Armory, renovated in Portland edgy-environmental style. The parking structure across the street was also interesting, with narrow, steep ramps, skinny parking places (woe betide any SUV's that attempt to park there), painted brick, and arched windows. We deduced it must be part of the same military complex. Here is my conclusion about Portland. It may be on the extreme left edge of political wackiness, but once in a while it gets something completely right.
But I digress.
Then, last Tuesday, I got a call from the radio station to say that I had won tickets to the Tower of Power concert at Chinook Winds, the casino at the beach. "Cool," I said, although to be honest, it wasn't my first choice of a win. But my philosophy is, I enter everything and then if I win, I decide whether to go. If not, I pass it on to someone else. So far, I have chosen to capitulate to fate, and been pleasantly surprised every time.
As luck would have it, I had been looking for a getaway this weekend, as it is our, wait for it, THIRTIETH anniversary on Tuesday. So I booked a beach house, and off we went.
Do you even know who Tower of Power is? Jeff didn't. But he trusts me (why, I will never know) and he loved them. He is a good sport to tag along on my adventures.
Tower of Power puts the "fun" in "funkify". They have been together for 42 years and still sound as fresh as they did when I listened to them in the 70's. How do they do that? Their presentation is snappy, synchronized, and syncopated to the extreme. Jeff sat next to a black guy who was at the concert for the second night in a row, having driven down from Seattle just for that purpose. He knew all the words to the songs, the name of all the band members, and their whole history.
Now that is a fan.
This is my favourite Tower of Power song. They played it for the encore, thus rescuing me from abject disappointment. Turn up the volume and feel the funk.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Monday Militia

What did Nana do today?
She went shooting with Jon, Jeff and B.
The guns belong to B., who has a passion for the topic and subscribes to rule # 5 of gun ownership: You can never have too many guns.
Jon, as usual, dressed appropriately for the occasion, except he forgot that it was cold, so he shivered the whole time. He gets annoyed with me for thinking he's cute and funny, but I ask you, how can I not? He's trying not to smile.
B. owns four hand guns, so we got to try out several different calibers and makes. See how intelligent I am already on the subject?
Jon, trying out a very beautiful rifle. Note the cool scope.

You may have noticed that there are no photos of me, shooting. There's a reason for that. Nobody, but nobody, gets to take a photo of my backside in shooting stance. But here is my target from the rifle shots. My group is the tidy little cluster in the SSW corner. Woot woot for me!
Mind you, I did use the closest target. Here are the boys, walking to the back of the range to check their targets.
Aren't they cute?
If you want to read up on women and guns, check out the Women of Caliber blog on the Blog Roll.

George Washington said, "A free people ought to be armed."
I do believe I am beginning to feel quite enthusiastic on the matter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Meandering through the days of our lives

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, said that time persists merely as a consequence of the events taking place in it. The old saying, "time flies when you're having fun," is apparently more than a truism. Our brains, according to recent studies, do a poor job of tracking time. Our internal clocks seem to respond more to the kind of activity in which we are engaged than to the actual passage of time. Which is why an hour in the dentist's chair passes so much more slowly than an hour eating chocolate and reading a good book. (Feel free to insert your own dreaded and favoured activities into that sentence.)
Speaking of truisms, I had to look the word up to make sure that I was using it correctly. Cliche, platitude, banality. I never knew it was such a despicable word! Which led me, as is wont to happen when surfing the web, to this website, which has compiled a hilarious list of truisms.
Here are a few, with some commentary by yours truly.

Never go to Dudley. It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.
I was born in Dudley, therefore I resent that remark.
Never pretend you can horse-ride.
Ask Bethany, if you don't know why.
If you can't believe it's not butter, you're an idiot.
There is only butter. Nothing else.
Never mix sleeping pills and laxatives.
The trouble with being punctual is no one's there to appreciate it.
Eh, Ellen?

My hope for all of us is that 2010 zips right on by, we're having that much fun.
We're having a new baby, did I tell you?
A little Annie or Edwin.
Send good thoughts their way.
Annie is really sick, in the tradition of the Tuft women.
She's going to have a really LOOOONG seven months or so.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Water Babies

Does anyone else remember that rather freaky little Victorian moral tale by the Reverend Charles Kingsley? It was about a little chimney sweep named Tom that was badly treated and when he fell into the river he turned into a water baby.
Well, tonight, we had our own resident water babies, Josh and Natalie, who were, dare I say it, rather stinky. Mom and Dad were out on a rare date, it being Saturday night. I decided to give them a break and bathe the little ones. Church comes early these Sunday mornings.

These two are such a crack-up. I think their personalities really shine in these photos.
My own personal water babies.

The real scoop

I don't think I have ever just "copied and pasted" a post before, but a friend just sent me this, which has apparently been floating around in cyberspace for a few months. I thought it was too hilarious. I've changed a few words for the faint of heart, like me.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

The Scots raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the B*****ds" They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the frontline in the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability. It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies, just in case.

New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!". Due to continuing defense cutbacks (the airforce being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "S**t, I hope Australia will come and rescue us". In the event of invasion, New Zealanders will be asked to gather together in a strategic defensive position called "Bondi".

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be all right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain, "Crikey!', "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is canceled". So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

For your information, Bondi Beach is a suburb of Sydney where more Kiwis reputedly live than in New Zealand. Somehow, it's not funny unless you have that tidbit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Spark of Crazy

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.
Robin Williams

Listen to this while you read.

One of my mottos is Everyone is crazy. Especially me.
I don't remember when I decided this, but it was a long time ago.
It was right up there with Never put Neosporin on your lips.
(The kind with the painkiller in it.
If you've ever done it, you'll know why.)

I was lying in bed this morning, not wanting to get up as usual, and feeling bad for my Mum. In our family, in case you haven't noticed, we have kind of beatified my Dad. Don't get me wrong, he was the best man I have ever known, but he did have the advantage of dying young. My Mum, on the other hand, has always been a little on the crazy side, and it hasn't gotten any better as she has aged. So I tend to dwell on her craziness, when, in fact, she taught me many good things. So, here is the list of things I learned from my Mum:

Stand by your man.
Take care of your man.
Be grateful.
Think of the needs of others.
Keep a tidy house.
Cook dinner every night.
Appreciate beauty in nature, like sunsets and trees.
Sing. All the time.
Eat lots of chocolate.
Be generous with your time, talents, and possessions.
Shop for bargains.
Always check your store receipts.
Appreciate quality, whether it's in a person or a fabric.
Buy stuff for your grandkids.
Adore your grandkids.
If in doubt, bake a cake.

And I thought to myself, that's a pretty good list for a crazy person!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The wisdom of a father, added upon

My Dad often reduced life to a few pithy sayings.
I was thinking about some of them this morning.

If millions believe a lie, does it make it truth?
A bad workman blames his tools.
Measure twice, cut once.
Never show a fool a half-finished job.

He also taught me, by example more than words, principles which have guided my life:

Pay off debt early.
Live within your means.
Be kind to animals.
Make your garden beautiful AND productive.
Follow your dreams.
Be happy.
Be good and do good.
Work hard.
Play hard.
Show your beliefs in the way you live your life.
Be honest.
A bunch of freshly picked flowers from the garden is worth more than any florist's bouquet.
Seek knowledge.
Search for adventures.
Take care of people in need.
Gather food storage.
Compost is good.
Own a gun for protection.
Do your best.
Look on the bright side.
If you play the piano, you'll always be popular.
Have fun, no matter what.

My Dad died young, but I think he died without regret, except for perhaps having to leave Mum alone for so long. He was not a complicated man and he enjoyed simple pleasures. I wish my kids and Jeff could have known him.
I hope that in knowing me they have known a small part of him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mr. Entomology

Twenty eight years ago, with a little help from Jeff and a good midwife, I gave birth.
To this boy.

He's a little bit (!) nerdy and weird, but we love him to pieces.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Readiness and Rabblerousers

Jeff is our town's co-ordinator for ResistNet, one of the sponsoring groups for the September 12th rally in Washington DC. We had our first meeting of the minds last night in our living room. I decided to make cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip sounded mildly healthy.
When I pulled my chocolate chip jar out of the pantry, it occurred to me how ridiculous my food storage priorities have become.

To give you an idea of the scale of that great big jar:

Before everyone went home, I took a picture, a la neo-neocon. Just to make sure that the nameless remain so.

If you are interested in preparedness-type topics, I recommend that you check out the Preparedness Pro blog that is new to my blog roll. This woman is the Queen of All Things Related to Preparedness. I am very excited because she is coming to our area to present her classes in February. Look for related future posts.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

"The time has come," the walrus said...

..."to speak of many things;
of ships and shoes and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings."
And today, that behemoth of controversy, global warming.
Now, you all know that I love this earth and I try to live as lightly upon its beautiful surface as I can. I think it behooves all of us to produce as little waste as we can and to live efficiently. But I have to say, and I hope none of my lovely readers will be offended, that this global warming crap is making me grumpy.
Jeff is a statistician. He has spent many hours poring over his computer, entering climate data into charts. He understands, as does any statistician worth his scatter plot, that numbers can be skewed in infinite ways to "prove" the story you choose to tell. Growing numbers of scientists are speaking out on the subject of climate change, not denying that it exists but showing scientifically that is not new and corresponds more to solar events than to anything man-made. Not that I want to downplay the effects of our behavior on the larger picture.
I have a couple of websites that I want you to look at. and CO2Science are two very sensible (no hysteria) and informative sites that are chock full of fascinating material.

Icecap has some great satellite photos of the UK, which is currently in the grip of an unprecedented cold snap. The whole country is white. It also has an FAQ and Myths' page which is well worth the read. The videos above are representative of those found on CO2.
I personally will be spending too much time on these websites in the next few days.
Meanwhile, I will still be recycling and conserving as if my life depended on it.
I suggest you do both of the same.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Silver and Gold

Make new friends and keep the old,
One is silver and the other's gold.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend.

I have a friend. My oldest friend, in that she has been my friend longer than anyone else on earth, apart from my Mum and my sister.

This is my friend Janet.

This is me.
I have been working on this post in my head for a long time. I wanted to tell you about Janet. About how remarkable it is that, although we have only seen each other once in the last 42 years, we still call each other "friend."
But especially, about how remarkable I think she is as a person.
I have mentioned a couple of times that as a girl I really only wanted two things: to be a ballerina and to own a horse. I didn't get either, although Annie managed to "kind of" fulfill both aspirations. My friend Janet was an avid horse rider when she was young and I was ever-so-slightly jealous. We were pretty good friends at school, but didn't spend any time at each other's homes because we lived in different villages. We attended a little village school in Middle Littleton, which was where Janet lived. My family lived in North Littleton. There was also a South Littleton. You get the idea! I could spend pages telling you about that school and my teachers, but maybe some other time. This post is about my friend.
Janet used to call me occasionally from the phone box by her house. We got a phone, with the number Badsey 733, which I had to recite when I answered the phone because my Dad had his own plumbing business. It was an exciting event when Janet called me. No one else ever did, you see. Call me, I mean. I was sad to leave Janet when we moved to New Zealand, but we promised to write. I was eleven at the time. And write we did. For some reason, we started this thing where each time we wrote, we would beat the last letter's page total. I think we were up to over 30 pages by the time we got to be into our teens and, I assume, too busy for such time-consuming pastimes.
The years passed by and pretty soon we were all grown up. Jan went to university and graduated and got married. I notably DIDN'T go to university (sore point with my parents), although I did some traveling and served a mission and then got married shortly after Jan and Steve. We didn't see each other again until we were in our mid 30's. My sister and I had planned a trip to England with our daughters. Anne wasn't able to go in the end, so Bethany and I went alone. After spending a week with my aunties and uncles in Birmingham, we went to the Cotswolds to stay with Janet and her family. Jan was the proud Mum of a toddler and a baby when Bethany and I visited. I must admit, I was very surprised to discover that Jan was profoundly deaf. Not only had she shown no signs of it (that I knew) when we were children, but she had never mentioned it since. She was pretty awesome at coping with it, using a combination of hearing aids and lip reading. It was a bit nerve-wracking when she was driving though, because she would be looking in the rear-view mirror all the time to watch her son talking. I never told her that before, sorry Jan! We had a fun week and then went home. Since then, it has mostly been Christmas letters and the occasional email.
Several years ago, Jan got a cochlear implant. I was interested in this because I had done extensive research on the deaf community while studying for my music therapy degree. Jan's surgery was rather groundbreaking, something to do with new robotic techniques, and she was featured in a TV programme. Since then, she has become an advocate and support for potential and actual cochlear implant recipients. She also volunteers for a local charity teaching life skills to people who have mental illnesses or learning deficiencies. Not only that, but Jan is an avid biker. This girl thinks nothing of going out on a Saturday and churning out 100 miles. She rode Le Jog a few years ago, the ultimate act of hard-core biking. Well, maybe not THE ultimate, I suppose Lance might have something to say about that. But Le Jog is the route from Land's End to John O'Groats, the entire length of the British isles. It's rugged by any standard. I keep trying to talk her into coming and riding the Seattle-to-Portland, but only because I want to see her again. I suppose it might seem a bit tame after Le Jog. Jan is also a wife, Mum of two, and a businesswoman.
There, in a nutshell, is almost 50 years of a friendship.You may wonder, what makes two people hang on to a relationship where their paths cross so infrequently? Especially when, in retrospect, we only knew each other for four years and didn't ever play together outside of school. I think maybe it's because we are like-minded without even knowing it. Jan reads my blog faithfully; all of the UK entries in the sidebar are her. (Apparently her ISP wanders!) She wrote in her last email, in which she told me about her volunteer work, that a lot of the things I say and do echo her life and thoughts very accurately. So we are, as it turns out, and in the words of Anne Shirley, kindred spirits. Maybe that's the answer.
Oh, I'm sorry, did you forget the question?
P.S. I just added "visiting Jan" to my bucket list. I will take photos of us together, looking fierce on our bikes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Auspicious beginnings

In honour of the new year, I decided to wash a load of whites.
Mostly because I was out of underwear.
Which necessitated clearing off the dining table so that I could wash the tablecloth so that it would be clean for my un-New-Year's-Eve party tonight.
I picked up my purse to put it away and noticed that it was full of crap.
So I cleaned out all of the random papers that had accumulated.
Then I noticed a credit card in my wallet that I never use any more, so I started on the wallet.
I made piles on the counter: recycle, cut up, throw away.
Then, on the counter, I saw the pile of Christmas cards and photos that kind people had sent.
So I sorted those into piles: recycle, throw away, cut up to use for gift tags next year.
Put a DVD back in its cover and noticed the mess of movies on the floor by the TV.
Cleaned up the movie mess.
Finally, back to the tablecloth.

My grasshopper ways will be the undoing of me yet.

Another thought on that last post on creativity.
I used to have a bumper sticker on our old Vista that said "Boring women have immaculate homes." I still subscribe to the philosophy, although I do like a tidy home and always aspire to it. I've decided that I'm a goal-oriented person. Hence, the party tonight. Today, in addition to visiting the Evergreen Aviation Museum (home of the Spruce Goose) with our free passes from the library, we will be cleaning house. Nothing like a party to get the old cleaning juices flowing. If you're reading this and didn't get a call from me, crash it anyway.

May we all have a happy and productive 2010.