Thursday, October 18, 2012

What men love to do

Yeah, I'll bet this blog post gets a lot of unlikely hits, thanks to that title.
Maybe I should change it.

I just counted photos in the last post.
This one has only two.
And there was much rejoicing!

So, last week I made some unusual purchases.
Unusual, in that they are rare kinds of purchases.
I found a rather large television on clearance at Freddie's. It is 3D and wi-fi and LED and was only a third of the original price.
"I'll take it," I said.
Then, of course, I had to buy a wall mount and a new Blue-ray player, as our old VCR/DVD player just didn't cut it. According to the man of the house.
I also bought five smoke detectors from Lowe's.
Of course you do!

A week has passed, and this is the TV in the rec room, all wall-hung and polished and Netflix-ready.

And these are the smoke detectors, sitting in a sad little pile in the man cave.

I think I have discovered a new weapon that is vastly superior to nagging.
It's called blogging!
Feel free to exert peer pressure on the man of the house.

P.S. The television that was replaced was about twenty years old.
In case you were wondering.

Weekend magic

I need to get away, he said.
Again? she asked.

So they did.
They spent the weekend at the McKenzie River Inn, a bed-and-breakfast establishment that sits right next to the McKenzie River. 

The bed was mighty uncomfortable (curse you, memory foam mattress that makes all others seem inferior) but the breakfasts cooked by the lovely innkeeper, Ellie, were fresh and delicious.

On Saturday, after a breakfast of sausage, fried potatoes, English muffins with homemade plum jam and homegrown apple cider, they shook off their aches and pains and hit the road.

Forty-five minutes up Highway 126 is Sahalie Falls.
If you get to Clear Lake, you've gone too far.

Thick, spongy moss covers everything.

He took his binoculars in hopes of bird sightings, but forgot how noisy a rushing, turbulent river can be.

A three-mile hike makes a loop down the east side of the river,

which roars and tumbles and rushes along until it cascades over Koosah Falls, 

where everything is green and misty.

Layers of green.



The trail was, for the most part, soft and easy, covered with pine needles that were shed like tears from the trees above.

The trail crosses the river by Carmen Reservoir and heads north. 
It had been a damp and slightly drizzly day so far, but as they crossed the river the clouds lightened and the sun peeked out of the clouds.

There were curious sights along the trail.
And we are not talking about the mountain bike riders, who should be banned from the forest.

This fallen tree was completely cleaned out and hollow.

The ground is often littered with large and small basalt rocks, which were spewed from nearby Mount Belknap, which is now a mere crater for the price of its sins. Sometimes, trees grow right out of those rocks.

Behold, the root of the tree, which split the rock right down the middle.

Grotesquely formed fallen-tree roots are a common sight along the trail.

Sometimes, they are very large.

The damp forest harbours many fungus growths. This one, on the sawed off surface of a tree trunk, had a light green base with pink nodules.

These holes, near the bottom of a dead tree, were mysterious. 
They seemed to be too big for a woodpecker.

Hey Joe, this tree is pretty danged big. I don't know if we can move it.
How about we just build some steps over it instead?

The trail crosses back to the east side about half a mile north of Sahalie Falls, so they crossed it on this lovely footbridge which is made from a log.

The trail was even softer and cushier on the other side, which was just as well because her injured foot was starting to complain.

We should have brought the hiking poles, he said.

She agreed.
When they got back to the parking lot, they were hungry and so they feasted on eggs and cheese and apples and crackers.
At least we remembered to bring food, she said.
But no water.
They forgot the water.
This little chipmunk was appreciative of the cracker crumbs.

They drove south on the highway, looking for more waterfalls, but were lured by a field of basalt.

Trees, both large and small, are thriving in the rocks.

Sometimes, it's just rocks.

A left turn onto Highway 242 took them up a much narrower road to Proxy Falls, which is really two waterfalls. 

The trail is a little bi-polar.
It begins deceptively smoothly, 

but soon transforms into a rocky path through a lava bed.

They wondered how such a narrow path was ever cleared through so many large rocks.
No Google search has been able to answer the question.

A tree has to really want to live in order to survive in such an inhospitable environment.

And yet, there is beauty.

And moss!

They heard the Lower Proxy Falls long before they could see it.
And even then, they couldn't get close because he wouldn't let her climb down the cliff to get to the base of the falls.
This is one of the most photographed falls in Oregon and falls 226 feet.

A short walk and a bit of a backtrack (due to an ambiguous sign) later, they reached Upper Proxy Falls.

Another mystery.
They wondered where the water goes, as there was no outlet to the pond at the base of the falls.
When they got back to the inn, she researched a little and discovered that the water goes into a hole in the ground and resurfaces as springs a couple of miles downstream.

On the way back to the inn, hungry and weary, they wondered about the piles of brush that were lining the edges of the national forest. Even more mysterious, they were usually covered in black plastic, as if to keep them dry.

Ellie told them that they are part of a controlled burn programme.
So now you know.

The Christmas shop was too alluring, so they stopped.
They did not buy one of these large wooden chainsaw totems.
But they did buy a small raccoon ornament for their Christmas tree.

And, ever fascinated by the legend, he had to check out Big Foot.

And then they went back to the inn and ate warmed-up burritos that she had (luckily) made to take along.
And, after another uncomfortable night on the mattress from Hell, they ate another delicious breakfast of 10-grain pancakes, homegrown pears and blackberries, and bacon.
And then they went home.

Did you clear your mind, she asked?
Yes, he said.
Good, she said.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end

Do you remember that song? I still sing it in my head. Often.

Have you been watching the new PBS series, Call the Midwife?
The first week, I forgot it was starting. I think we had a houseful of progeny, which wipes my brain of all coherent thought. I tuned in the second week and then watched the first episode on 
I am in love. 
The story takes place in the East End of London in 1957. It was a period and area of great destitution, and the show highlights the plight of working families. It also puts in frequent plugs for the glories of the National Health Service, a fairly new institution in England at that time. I will not debate the pros and cons of that topic here, because that is not the story I wish to tell. Just let me say that, while I am opposed to a health care system that is run by the government, the plight of the working man and his family in early 20th century England was hard indeed, and heavens knows they needed a break. If government health care made their lives a little easier, hallelujah!

I was born in 1956 in an area of Birmingham that was not unlike the East End. My heartstrings strum a little when I see those babies sitting outside, all strapped into their prams.
Why, you ask?

My little self, alongside a friend.

I'm pretty sure my doting, overprotective mother would never have left me alone in the pram for one second, but the pram was probably the one essential piece of baby equipment for every new mother.

Oh, ha, I just noticed that Anne has the straps on! 
While I was looking for photos of the pram, I ran across a bag of photos and letters that I brought back from New Zealand last year. When Anne and I were going through Mum's house, we ran across lots of photos that we had never seen before, including several of Mum when she was a girl. 
We knew about this one. Mum, or "Elsie", as she was known back then, is the little one in front.

Then, we found some treasures.
Elsie, who must have been a bridesmaid at her Aunty Vi's wedding, front and right.

Again, with her Aunty Vi and a friend.

I don't know anything about this next one, except I'm assuming the girls were dressed in some kind of costume. Mum is on the left.

That's all we have of our Mum as a girl.
Four blurry snapshots.

Then, she met my Dad.
Oops, this is with little brother Dick, who often tagged along on their dates.

Although, how they worked that out when a motorbike was their form of transportation, I do not know.

And then they got married.

And life was beautiful and Mum was always in style.
She designed her own clothes and had them made by a seamstress.
She used to tell us that her best friend often copied her designs.
I think it annoyed and secretly delighted her.

These were the good old days.

Yes, that's our lovely cousin Lynne in the front.
I must be getting old, because my mind often wanders back to those times of innocence and simplicity. I love my life now, but it is so darn complicated. And I miss my Mum as she used to be. It has been a long time since she was really happy.
I miss my Dad, more and more, it seems, as the years go by. I was reading a letter aloud to Jeff tonight, words written about Dad by a man who knew him, and I ended up reading most of it through my tears. He died too young, for someone who had such a zest for living.

This memento is proof positive of Dad's dreams.
The passport that opened the way for our family to move to New Zealand.

And this one just for a laugh. I think one of my aunties was the instigator. A hairnet, big glasses, and my knitting.
Almost prophetic, isn't it?

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. 
Hope I didn't bore your socks off.

P.S. I learned how to use our scanner, can you tell?