Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Don't be diggin' my grave just yet

I've long decried our culture's emphasis on physical appearance, and in many ways I've refused to follow the accepted norms of aging women. 
I don't dye my hair.
I rarely wear makeup, except for a bit of lip gloss most mornings. Chapstick is my weapon of choice.
Skinniness has never been my goal, although I did spend the first forty years of my life being mostly on the slim side. Besides, the mere mention of a diet causes me to suddenly have a self-defeating ravenous appetite. 
And let me say right here, a certain percentage of my unwillingness to put a large amount of effort into my appearance is pure laziness. And a bit of angst that men are held to a different standard than we women. But I truly believe that our worth is determined by our good acts and by what is in our hearts and souls, and that is what should shine from our faces. But if your makeup and well-coiffed hair make you happy, you go ahead and keep on with it. We all draw our own lines in the sand, and that's how it should be. I suppose my wish for all of us is that we could feel free to be our unadorned ourselves, without the artifices that modern society has imposed upon us and without somehow feeling inferior.
I admire women who climb mountains at the age of 90 but I've never really aspired to be one of them. I am impressed with myself when I do an eight-mile hike or ride my bike anything over ten miles. Or climb a volcano, even if I did break my leg on the way down. I tell myself, at least it was on the way down!
But here's the thing. Lately, I have packed on the weight. If I gain any more, I will have to find wider leggings, and that would be just sad! When I look in the mirror with my glasses on, all I see are wrinkles. Droopy eyes. Graying hair. Saggy tummy and everything else. So I feel old and unattractive. And sometimes I just have to give myself a kick in the rear and remember that I can still go out and conquer mountains and muddy trails and pretty much anything else that comes my way. I may not look as cute as I used to but I can still live life to the fullest. I've been told that my smile is my best asset, so I'm going to use it. Lots! And I'm going to blog about the adventures so that I don't forget about them. Because you know, the memory ain't what it used to be either.

Last week, Jeff and I were on our own for Thanksgiving for the first time in almost 38 years of marriage. At first, I thought it would be okay to cook a small dinner just for the two of us. We had thought about going out to the Ranch, as some people were cooking a community dinner, but I had to work on Friday. Then I was able to do the group earlier in the week and so we drove out to central Oregon on Thursday morning. We met the Bradys down at the Senior Center and had a nice lunch, smoked turkey with all of the trimmings. Afterwards, we went over to see their partly finished house and then went home to relax at Vista House for the rest of the day. 
On Friday morning, Bryce and Brenda came over for a late breakfast and then we drove to the Metolius River with the intention of hiking about five miles round trip from the campground to the fish hatchery. And we did! It took us about an hour and a half to get to the hatchery, and less than an hour to get back to the car park. Two factors influenced the discrepancy. On the way there, some of us had to keep stopping to take creative photographs. And talk to fishing guides. On the way back, we were ravenous and highly motivated by the thought of buying dinner in Sisters on the way home.

There were lots of downed trees. This one was unusual because of the large rocks entwined in its roots.

The sign warned us of a detour around an unstable tree, but it took us a while to get to it.

There was a sign at the beginning of the trail that said it was the way to Wizard Springs, but I didn't think anything of it. And then we came upon it. It was actually quite impressive, as the water springs right out of the rocks and feeds the volume of the river.

There were many large trees in the river, almost always causing more white water in the already tumultuous torrent. I do love walking beside a raging river.

This tree was a mystery. It looked like a recent fall and the wood was shredded. We wondered if it was lightning, but there was no blackened wood. Bears and Sasquatch have also been suggested.

We arrived at the hatchery and the best part was when Brenda got up close and personal with the incense cedar in order to smell it.
It just smelled like wood to me but maybe I didn't get cozy enough with it.

We strode back with gusto and it felt great to be walking through the woods again. 
And so I will stop comparing myself to the extreme fitness types and be grateful for the many things I can still do. And then I will do them. Preferably with like-minded and fun friends!

My 61-year lucky streak

I am 61. 
I have never been in a car accident.
These two statements are fact.
But on September 12th I broke that lucky streak and slammed into a Ford truck as it pulled out of a side road right in front of me. I was driving at highway speed and the only thing, I believe, that saved Jeff and me from serious injury was the Eyesight technology in my lovely new Subaru. It sensed the truck before I did and slammed on the brakes so that we only caught the corner of the rear bumper of the truck, rather than the side of it. 
I also managed to swerve a little bit and then pulled over onto the shoulder. The truck crossed the highway and pulled onto another side road. I sat, shaken, and called 911. Strangely, the air bags didn't deploy, which was a blessing because I think they would have caused us more pain than we had. Within five minutes a state trooper was parking in front of us. We didn't realise that we were mere yards from the State Police station and were highly impressed with the speed with which she showed up. By then, the couple in the truck had walked over to us. They were elderly (as in "older than us") and the woman, who was supposedly the driver, looked like a meth addict. 
The trooper was very kind and helpful, especially after I told her I had never been in an accident before, and walked us through the process. 
We didn't think the car looked too bad, but later we learned that the battery had exploded upon impact and the car ended up being totaled.
Oh joy, car shopping again!
My poor baby.

You can see the splashes of battery acid that have started to corrode the engine.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 
Pretty soon another state trooper pulled up behind us and we wondered slightly why all the fuss? Then the first trooper called out, "Susan, could you come over here?"
I obediently started to walk over to her and she quickly said, "Oh, I forgot your name is Susan too. I meant Susan _____," the driver of the truck. So Susan walked over and was immediately handcuffed. There was an outstanding warrant for her arrest. And the man had a suspended licence for DUII. As I said to Jeff, their day was a whole lot worse than ours!
Considering it was a pretty spectacular accident, we were very lucky. I ended up with a sprained ankle from, I assume, stomping on the brake pedal upon impact. And Jeff has developed some hip problems that should hopefully be resolved soon. But it could have been so much worse.
It has been very time-consuming dealing with the insurance companies and medical issues, but the other miracle is that the man who owned the truck had great insurance, so it hasn't cost us a penny. 
But we did have to go car shopping again and this is the result.

It looks just like the last one, right?
It is actually a  2018 Subaru Crosstrek, which has been the unfortunate victim of some design tweaking that does not make me happy, but my car-shopping tolerance was at an all-time low and I didn't have the fortitude to look for something else. I really wanted exactly the same car, but all of the 2017 models with Eyesight were sold out. 
We do love our Subarus, even if we're a little late to the game. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

The aliens have landed on my back lawn

Or, be careful what you do with that very useful silicone spray.

A couple of weeks ago I looked out onto our rain-sodden back lawn, which I have carefully tended since its third (or fourth) incarnation of several years ago. And I saw this very strange pattern developing on the grass. It was much less defined at the time.

The days passed, puddles came and went, and as the pattern became clearer I realised what it must be.
I like a weed-free lawn, you see.
I have spent hours pulling all of the little bits of seedy annual grass that somehow managed to survive the doses of RoundUp that obliterated the last lawn. I frequently scrutinize the area for baby clover plants or wee dandelions that might have the nerve to rear their heads among the blades of grass.
I prefer to hand pull the few weeds that find a spot to thrive in my garden, which has become an easier principle to hold since we decided to cover the flower and veggie beds with tree shreds. But once in a while, like at the beginning of fall when weeding has lost its novelty, I do a judicious spray with some weedkiller. We have just discovered the joys of silicone spray, since the WD40 lost its little straw and Jeff said wereallyneedsomenewWD40, pleaseohpleasecanwegetsome? Because you know that my frugal self just wanted to find a way to make the old stuff work. But I relented and we trotted off to Ace Hardware and when we saw the canister of silicone spray sitting on the shelf next to the other humbler oil-based lubricants, I had to have it. And it proved to be a miracle worker and we use it on everything we can think of.
Fast forward to The Day I Decided to Kill Weeds. For some reason, our garden spray canisters don't seem to last anywhere near as long as they should, so I was down to one little inefficient canister. I added the poison and started to push the handle up and down to create some air pressure, but the action was very sticky.  Then I had a light bulb moment.
So I sprayed the shaft with silicone and commenced pumping on the slabs of stone next to the greenhouse. That baby was slick and I was in the middle of congratulating myself on the forethought to buy that lovely silicone spray when all of a sudden, WHOOSH! The canister exploded, sending poisonous water all over the rocks and yours truly.
If I ever get cancer I will blame it on this event.
It may have gotten up my nose.
But at least, I thought to myself, it didn't get on any plants or the lawn.
Or did it?

And on that rainy day, I realised that the exploding spray had indeed reached the lawn. And apparently there had been enough of it to attach itself to the soles of my shoes and now there are alien footprints all over my lawn.