Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An unnatural pastime

It's unnatural for people to go running around the city streets unless they are thieves or victims. It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog go after him. Mike Royko.

I'm still not sure why I have taken up the dastardly habit of running. 
Well, maybe I do, but I think it's in vain.
I keep thinking that it will aid in my losing futile Battle of the Bulge.

So Saturday morning, bright and early, we drove to McMinnville for the first annual Run, Run, Ye Saints. That's a Mormon funny, for the uninitiated. 
As a new waddler runner, I was aiming for the 5K. Jeff, who is about to run in his third Hood-to-Coast relay, was geared up for the 10K. Hope, who rode out with us, was ambivalent about the whole thing.

Hope and I were feeling pretty fresh.
Hey, make sure I'm looking skinny in this one!

We are so going to nail this.

Jeff and our friend Bill, who had the distinction of being the oldest runner in the pack.
Bill is an inspiration to us all.

Yep, still feeling pretty fresh!

The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again. Erma Bombeck.

And then we started running.
It was a nice, flat route, with pretty pink arrows for us to follow.
The last part wound around some neighbourhood streets that abounded with garage sales.
I was sorely tempted, but my resolve remained firm.
I waddled ran every step of the way, except for the water station.
Total time: 37:43.
I know, awesome, right?
I think I'll rest on these laurels for a while, maybe longer if I do.

Wow, I've had a lot of random lyrics roaming through my head lately.

Here is Lindsay, looking svelte after her run.
Lindsay is a photographer and blogger extraordinaire.

And Linds, I think it's a cute pose!
Lindsay helped organize the run, along with Brenda, her Mom.
Who is a mite obsessed with running these days.
And is probably to blame for my even considering the pastime.

I just had to post this photo. This is our friend Kimberly, who looks disgustingly perky for having just run 10K in very good time. 
I feel unreasonably resentful of Kimberly.

The Man.
Finishing with Flair.

Our ward had the best turnout.
Probably from being nagged to death  reminded so often and enthusiastically by Brenda.

On Monday morning I awoke with the lyrics And I will hang my head, hang my head low running on auto-repeat through my head. See, I told you, random lyrics. I couldn't remember where I had heard them. Late in the day, it came to me. My MP3 player, which is my trusty running companion, contains all the tracks of the Decemberists' Crane Wife. Quirky  songs, but I like them.
I don't think jogging is healthy, especially morning jogging. If morning joggers knew how tempting they looked to morning motorists, they would stay home and do sit-ups. Rita Rudner.

Friday, August 6, 2010

First Friday Fun

Our town is really coming into its own.
Every first Friday of the month, downtown stores host an Art Walk and wine tasting evening.
We're not so much into the wine tasting.
Well, not at all, truth be told.
But we love the free tasty snacks, the art, the shopping, and the music.
And the camaraderie that abounds.
Tonight, Bethany and her Fab Four, Mum, Jeff and I braved the crowds.
We ran into several old friends and met some fun new people.

Natalie, almost three, is becoming quite the career shopper.
Look Mom, it's only four dollars!

Really, she said that!
Scary, huh?
P.S. It wasn't really four dollars.

Great Nana was in a spending mood.
Come to think of it, she's always in a spending mood.
Kenzie picked out some very dangle-y earrings.
According to spellcheck, that is the correct way to spell dangle-y.
Spellcheck does not like how I spell yoiks.

Where was I?
Oh yes, dangle-y earrings.

The Fab Four, checking out the Wizard of Oz cows in the display cabinet....
...after which, the  boys got bored so we sent them home with Jeff.
Who, you have to know, was done with shopping already!
We girls drooled in the re-sale shops, finding all kinds of things we didn't know we couldn't live without. I think I shall have to go back during the week when things are quieter.
Natalie had a melt-down.
Every time I admired something, Mum tried to buy it for me.
Only she was out of cash and had to borrow from me to buy the kids' doodads.
The Trolley pulled up and we decided to take it to wherever it was going.

You're not taking photos, are you?
Are you still taking photos? 

Susan, you're not taking photos are you?

Well, maybe I am. 
Why don't you give me a smile?

At the end of the line, we disembarked at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
The same place we took family photos a few months ago.
The sculptures have changed, but they are still very organic in nature. 
I really like them.
This is a big, woven, beaver dam.

A garden of twigs.
And birds.
Bird songs were also emanating from the sound system.

A circle of dried daisies. 
Such painstaking work, so vulnerable to the vandalic tendencies of its visitors.
Wow, that was more alliterative than I planned.
And yes, Annie, it is a word!

A giant bird nest.
Roc, maybe?

This sweet baby dress was at our last stop, the antique store by the library.
It may travel to North Carolina for our little Elsie.

Guess who is getting left at home next time?
My battle-weary, shopping-hating, doodad-despising husband.
But that's okay, because tomorrow we are doing a 5K/10K run in the a.m. and going to the coast to see the Oakridge Boys in the p.m.
Hope you have a fun day planned too!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thrills on Thursday

This morning, after the sprinkler system turned off, I could still hear water running.
I ran outside and found a disaster!
Water was gushing from the pipes where the system controls are located.
Gushing, I tell you.
I could see the little dial on the water metre in my mind's eye, hands circling quickly and without mercy.
While quietly cursing Jeff under my breath, I ran over to my handy-dandy neighbour, Jim's house.
Knock knock knock!
Carol answers the door.
Where's Jim, I need him, I have an emergency!
Jim came hobbling out of the house.
What's the matter Jim, your shoulder again?
No, my hips.
Jim tried to turn off the water, but the hole was flooded.
Do you have one of those tools to turn off the main?
I don't think so. I'll go buy one.
So off to the hardware store I dashed.
Sans cell phone.
In spite of the little voice inside my head, telling me Take your cell phone.
I got home about ten minutes later.
Jim had found the valves on the sprinkler pipes and turned them off.
Carol had been trying to call me on my cell phone.
Oh well.
Thanks Jim.
I owe you one.

Fast forward to tonight, almost bedtime.
A strong and sickly smell of skunk invades the air.
Turns out Jeff had baited a mousetrap with suet.
Under our bedroom window.
To catch mice.
Or maybe scare away a possum.
That possum has a stripe down its back.

Would you like that gift-wrapped, madam?

Have I told you about my new gift strategy for my grandchildren?
My lovely, adorable grandchildren, who own so much stuff I can hardly comprehend it.
Papa and I give them classes for Christmas and birthdays.
So far, I think it has had positive repercussions.
Come with me and take a look.

Kenzie got a month of horse riding lessons for Christmas. She enjoyed it so much that Mom and Dad have sprung for a few more lessons. I really like how it has broadened Kenzie's horizons; every lesson she comes back with news of progress. Most exciting to me is that she is no longer afraid of everything, as you saw at the stables a few days ago.
Click on the photo to get a closer look at the cute blue boots she is wearing. 
Nine years old and she already fits her Nana's boots.
Little Jeff received a month of tumbling classes for his birthday in May. Thomy really liked the look of them, so now both boys are in the class. I hear Jeff is still a bit bashful, but Thomy is in his element.

Daniel is finally enjoying his swimming lessons that he got for Christmas. 
The boy is a fish. 
His energy is boundless.

Thomy is on his second set of art classes, this time for his birthday. The original studio closed, so I had to find another one that was not too obnoxiously far away.
After we went to the Rose Gardens a couple of weeks ago, I took Thomy for his first Friday open studio. Kenzie tagged along.
It was Monster Day, a la Maurice Sendak.
First, they made their own pet monsters out of wood and paint.

Thomy also drew and painted his own monster, which was then modge-podged and mounted.
We were at the studio for over two hours and had a terrific time.

Thomy and I have a date in August for another open studio Friday. 
This time it will be Pirate Day.

Hey Jenny, maybe you should tag along!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fighting the good fight

A whole year has passed since this post.
Another hot morning in July, another parade, same old field. 
This year, Jenny decided to watch the parade.
Bethany was brave and brought three of her kids and a friend.
Kenzie rode in the truck, throwing candy to the crowds.

The grass is a little greener this year, due to the late rains.
The theory was that the kids would walk.
Here, you can see the beginnings of rebellion, and the parade hadn't even begun yet.

And this was how Josh spent most of the route...
...until he learned that the candy was in the truck.

I am hoping to have to frame this photo some day.
My claim to fame.
Rob and me.
Cornilles for Congress!

This little guy is a staunch supporter.
And he walked on his stubby little legs the whole parade route.

Bikers for a fellow conservative candidate for county commissioner.

Rob has a groundswell of support. Over 80 people walked or drove with him this year, the biggest group in the whole parade.
Rob's Green Beans.

Go Rob!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Journeys of the heart

There is a line, when crossed, where blogging becomes too revealing of the writer and uncomfortable for the reader. At least, that is the opinion of this English-born blogger with an enormous latent supply of natural reserve. And yet, if no treacherous waters are ever trodden, a blog can be a superficial and simplistic entity. The danger of revelation is also inherent in a public blog, where such things could be misused or misunderstood.

Obviously, some blogs are created with the intent of keeping family and friends up-to-date with family news.
Mommy blogs.
I'm not dissing Mommy blogs; I love them. But I feel like my life, right now, is full of many and diverse interests, people, happenings, and conflicts, and I want my blogging to reflect that. I like to share new information, my joys, my doings, and my angst. And you, my readers, are kind enough to be interested in them. 
And sometimes you even comment on them.
Did I ever tell you?

On with the story.
A story that might be better untold but that is uppermost in my mind right now.

My Mum has been here for almost four months. Less than two weeks and she goes home to her little house to be on her own again. 
Here is my sweet Mum, at a concert in the park, just because she wanted to be with me.

Come to think of it, I could have cropped out the Honey Buckets, couldn't I?

My sister and I are at a crossroads.
Our Mum is losing her marbles and 

We grew up not knowing our grandparents. Most of them were dead before we were cognizant of there being such marvelous things. Our maternal grandfather was still alive when we left England, but we only met him once. Mum was estranged from him,  I think to protect her daughters from the influence of her stepmother. So we never saw any interaction of children and their aging parents. It struck me this morning in a revelatory manner that we have no role models for this difficult time of life. Add to that the intrinsic problems of distance and our dilemma becomes magnified.

All my Mum ever wanted in life was to be with her beloved Tom and her girls. She lost her sweetheart when he was only 49, at the best time of their lives. They had bought land in the country and were in the process of building their dream house. We girls were off and living our own lives. His sudden death was devastating to all of us, but especially to Mum. I don't think she ever really recovered from it. 
Over thirty years of missing him. 
Part of me is impatient with her, wishing she had found meaning in SOMETHING. Taking some of the pressure of responsibility for her happiness from Anne and me. 
But it is what it is.
And now, my heart is breaking, because I am claustrophobic when she lives with me, but when she goes home she deteriorates. Anne carries the whole burden and it is hard for her. 
It is hard for all of us.
Somewhere, there is an answer.
Anne is looking for it in New Zealand.
I am contemplating possibilities in Oregon.

Meanwhile, a friend took Mum to lunch at P.F.Chang's today and then Jon and Jenny took her to see the beautiful temple grounds and then to watch the boys at their tumbling class. 
So, for today, she is happy and pleasantly weary.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. Leon Trotsky.

Sure I'm for helping the elderly.
I'm going to be old myself someday. Lilian Carter.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Amber Oregon

The Willamette Valley in Oregon has long been known as the grass seed capital of the world. This is a dubious distinction for those of us with pollen allergies, who suffer mightily in the late spring and early summer, especially on the days when the seed is harvested.

Research began at OSU in 1909 and grass seed was introduced to the Valley in 1920. Production increased  steadily over the next ninety years, with improved technology and demand pushing for ever-increasing yields. In 2008, Oregon produced 725 million tons of grass seed and exported 800,000 tons of grass straw for livestock seed.

It used to be that autumn saw a smoky haze hanging low over our valleys as the farmers burned off the fields, but legislation put an end to that and alternatives to the practice were quickly found.

Well, this year as I drove and biked around country roads, I noticed less fields planted in grass and more in wheat.
Hallelujah! I thought.
But I wondered about it.
I don't like unanswered riddles.
Then, one day in the newspaper, I found the answer.
Oregon farmers have a big stash of grass seed in the warehouses, thanks to a dip in demand.
The economy, don't you know?
Apparently, golf courses and resorts and the like are not as willing to spend all that money on their lawns.
And, of course, the price of wheat has risen, thanks to all the corn and soy taking over farms in the Midwest.
Government subsidies and bio-fuel.
Not sure if this is the free market in action, but whatever it is, I enjoyed the shorter allergy season this year.
And I love seeing the amber waves of grain.
Which match the tow heads of my grandchildren almost exactly.