Thursday, November 29, 2007

For My Friends in Warm Places

Today we are savoring a snowy DAY after a snowy NIGHT. Glad we don't have to go anywhere. This is what I woke up seeing this morning. That's right. Open eyes, see this. The birds are having a feast at the feeder. Blue Jays, chickadees, sparrows, juncos, Eat At DK's neon signs must be pointing the way.
The driveway is getting covered. Lloyd drove the Outlander to the street to see how it did on our steep gravel driveway. Test result: A plus.
Had to shovel the slush off the front deck earlier, but it's coming down a little drier by noon.
Brindle likes this stuff. Fun to romp in, fun to make yellow snow on, fun to eat. Just like a kid.

Our walk was messy at times, slippery at times, but beautiful and peaceful. And not windy. Here's a snowy gorge view from our walk.
So we came back home and are decking the halls. Inside. How nice and cozy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Savor the Moment

It snowed last night. I mean REALLY snowed, not just errant flakes. I looked out on the deck (aka the spare fridge) to retrieve the leftover pumpkin pie and there it was...White Stuff. Several inches of it. By the time it was done, there were four inches piled up. I went to bed with visions of a winter wonderland greeting me in the morning. Alas, the wind shifted and warmed air came rushing up the Gorge from Portland. All but a dusting on the ground was washed away. Good thing I took a picture. The daylight photos will have to wait for another storm.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

APB on Chip and Dale

Where are all the chipmunks and squirrels that should be packing away acorns and nuts for winter???? The front deck has become a hardhat zone. I was sitting out there the other afternoon, reading a book and enjoying a cup of tea (it's not ALWAYS wine, guys!) and was constantly dinged with falling acorns. A tiny acorn falling from 20-30 feet hits the deck with a very audible crack. It hits ones knee with a similar audible crack, followed by a short burst of expletives that can't be written here. Like my friend Susan says, My Momma Comes Here.

I have seen nary a squirrel since I got here. I never saw any squirrels in Sugar Land, TX, but then I didn't expect to. There were few big ole trees where I lived. Just new sticks in the ground. We did spot deer, armadillos, rabbits, mice, rats, skunks, snakes and the occasional feral pig but no squirrels. In Mandeville, LA, we had a mini forest behind our house, so we had LOTS of squirrels, along with raccoons, foxes, and other small varmints. A major sport was watching the squirrels try to defeat the anti squirrel mechanisms on our bird feeders. Cajun squirrels are pretty crafty.Those barrel jobs you put on the post so they can't climb up? Took 'em a week to find a tree branch that hung sort of close to the feeder and perfect a death leap to the platform containing the treasured seeds.

The special Canadian made spring loaded feeder we attached to a tree trunk was a bit more trouble for them. That one took almost a year. Conquest involved carefully approaching the feeder from above, in a head down, claws dug in position. Carefully, the squirrel would move on to the little roof area, then finally hang on the spring loaded bar, shaking the seeds loose for his waiting friends below. The funniest thing I ever saw was the day a raccoon decided if a squirrel could do it, he could too. But he got stuck in that head down position just inches above 'the prize'. Needless to say, he eventually took a tumble and never attempted that maneuver again.

So what to do? I've swept loads of the suckers off the deck into a growing pile on the hill beside the house. In plain view of any industrious squirrels who might want easy pickings. Timmy Tip Toes, where are you??? Winter's coming! The paper said today that a La Nina is forming that will bring us an unusually wet and cold winter. Tell you what, I'll save a pile for you under the deck…and hope they don't sprout into more trees!

Happy Thanksgiving

It sure feels like the Thanksgivings I remember in New England. It's gotten colder. In the low 30's when we get up. And grayer. And Sunday night it SNOWED. We went up to Wind River Cellars for a vertical tasting event (meaning tasting successive years of a wine, not the postion of the taster, at least by the end of the event), and just that slight elevation turned the icy rain into snow. We had a dusting on our deck by morning, but it melted pretty fast. But it's all still on Underwood, across the way, as evidenced in the photo.

So we're off to my sister Mary's for dinner. Thanksgiving with someone from my family, for the first time since I left Rhode Island, so that's over 26 years. My girls are staying in Boston, and will feast at my sister Linda's house. It will be a good day for all.

Wishing all four of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Best Early Xmas Present EVER

I have the best husband in the world. Life is never dull with him around.
It's been a crazy year. We sent our oldest off to Berlin for almost 6 months. Then put our house up for sale. We graduated the youngest from high school. Then Lloyd retired after 25 years, 5 moves, three different states (TX twice) and one foreign country with Gulf/Chevron. He and I moved our family's earthly goods to Washington. I moved the Alina from TX to Boston. We all visited Keara in Berlin, and helped schlep her excess baggage back to Boston. Their lives are in Boston. Ours is in White Salmon, 3000 miles away.

Late Finals and Swim Team training trips meant limited time for a holiday visit. Combined with the fact that there is no reason to make the trek but to see us and the dog, I really don't blame them for preferring to stay with the Sullivan clan this year. And with tickets running over $500 even for the red eye, it's a pricey proposition. But I was feeling mighty blue about not seeing them this holiday. I knew the day would come, but I wasn't ready for it yet. This place already feels like home to Lloyd and the dog, and it's starting to feel like home to me. But except for their beds and books and stuffed animals that we moved with us, there are no memories yet to endear this place to them. Yet.

Anyone who has traveled at Xmas time knows how AWFUL it is. And going cross country is even worse. Lloyd had no desire to repeat our October itinerary. He'd made the PDX-BOS via Newark round trip in Aug as well. A third time in 4 months was not in the cards for him. Especially after getting stuck in Newark for 12 hours on the way home in August. But because he got stuck in Newark, I get to go to Boston for Xmas.

A Continental free flight coupon showed up unexpectedly in the mail just a week or so after his trip from hell. And my dear sweet husband let me cash it in to fly to Boston on Xmas eve, when everyone in my family usually descends upon my sister to begin the festivities. Hey, guys, don't disband too early this year...I'll be along about 8...unless I get stuck in NEWARK!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day, Northwest Style

This is something very new and strange to me. It's election day. I voted. But I never had to leave home to do it. I have to admit, I actually LIKE the physical GOING to the Poll. I like voting in a booth, surrounded by others voting. I even volunteered as a poll watcher last year, back in the contentious TX CD22, to make sure there was no funny business (there wasn't at my polling place on election day, but there WAS in my early voting assignment). Voting at your local polling place is a community thing, democracy in action.

This year, I'm living in rural WA. Washington and Oregon have evolved to Mail In Ballots. A few weeks back, we got a Voter's Guide. Imagine that! (Hey Susan, when was the last time you saw a Voter's Guide with the issues to be voted on, an explanation of what it is, followed by Pros and Cons)

So what does one do with this information? After the guide arrives, your ballot arrives in your mailbox. You take your black pen, and fill in the little bubbles yes or no, and fill in the bubbles beside the names running for office. This year they were all non partisan offices, and all unopposed (at least one thing was familiar to me). Looking forward to NEXT year's ballot to see how things shake out when there are partisan positions to fill.

Anyway, you fill in your bubbles, sign the ballot, put it in envelope 1. Sign envelope 1 and seal it into envelope 2. You now can choose to put a stamp on it and have the mail truck pick it up from your box at the end of the driveway, or you can drop in off in the voting box at the Post Office. You're done! Sounds like a good thing, right, and that EVERYONE would vote...

Not so fast, buddy. Estimates are that at most 50% of people will have voted in Oregon, where there are two very contentious measures to vote on. I'll bet WA is a lot less. That 50% might sound good to y'all dealing with abysmal turnouts in your off year elections but it's rather pathetic to think that HALF of the people didn't bother to do what people in other countries would kill to be able to do. Or die trying for that right.

Come on people. All of you of CST, you've got an hour. Get out there! There's still time on the west coast to vote. You just have to drive down to the collection box by 8 pm. You're too late for the mail truck.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Give it up, Rudy

AS IF Rudy Giuliani doesn't have enough problems, he's ticked off the Red Sox Nation as he woos voters in NH. My favorite 'home boy' EJ Dionne takes him to task for trying to convince voters that he, a big YANKEES fan, rooted for the Sox during the series. Come on Rudy, no one's buying! EJ also does a nice job 'splainin' team loyalty, and why it's not a bad thing. EJ has been a Sox fan as long as I have, since I can remember the days of Bill Monboquette. Man, how did we get so old?????? Thanks to Jill and Mike for the heads up on this one, found in the Houston Chron, of all places. And thank you, EJ. Always a pleasure.