Sunday, January 27, 2008

Going Nowhere Today!

When I went to bed last night, there was a foot of fresh powder on the deck. No grilling last night!

This morning there was another six inches of fluffy white stuff on top of that.

The cars were buried. Yes,there are cars under that heap in the photo to the right.

It took us all day to dig out the driveway.One car is now parked near the top of the drive, so we only have to shovel out the end where the plows come by when the next six to ten inches falls tonight.

Brindle liked it, even though it was almost as deep as she is tall. The birds were happy the feeders got cleaned off and filled. We even remembered to bring in the hummingbird feeder before it froze.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Getting Ready to CAUCUS

It was a bit chilly today. Only 13 degrees when I got up this morning. So needless to say, my time down in the cellar computer central has been limited. But fear not, more will make its way to my blog. I've been busy this week helping plan the County's Democratic Party Caucus on Feb 9. It should be quite the experience. There are 15 precincts on the west side of Klickitat County which will convene at 1 pm that day, in the infamous Pioneer Center. We checked out our rooms today, and it is a really nice building. We can use 3 meeting rooms and the dining area that can be divided. I'm heading to Vancouver, WA with our caucus chairwoman early Saturday morning to attend training and pick up our materials for the event. More on that later.

And as soon as my guy downloads some of the pictures from last weekend's skiing at Mt Hood, I'll post that saga. Maybe it will be warmer down here by then!

Sticks and Stones

T-Mobile - Stick Together

What does THAT mean? I think they mean that if you use their service, you'll be able to stay close to your dear ones. But the people in Yamhill County might have a different idea these days.

Yamhill County is Oregon's wine country, famous for outstanding Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. There are beautiful rolling hills and vineyards, orchards, and farms. T-Mobile decided they needed a new tower to help their customers stick together, and contracted with a land owner to plop a tower on his property where it would stick out like a sore thumb, or um, finger, according to one County Commissioner, who is a very dear one to me. Maybe the slogan should be changed to Stick It.

All three commissioners were in solidarity on this one, a rare event. They originally denied approval for the 120 foot tower on aesthetic and technical grounds. There were several alternative sites, with trees that could make the thing less obvious, but no, that wasn't what T-Mobile wanted. Silly commissioners, they felt that TM had failed to show that siting the tower on land zoned exclusively for agricultural use was "necessary for public service". People even drove around testing their reception along that stretch of road, and found they had no interrupted service. Incredibly, Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals said that information wasn't relevant. Hello???? Can you hear me now????? Unfortunately, the state law and LUBA allowed no wiggle room for the county, and the commissioners HAD to approve it.

The quote of the year was highlighted on a McMinnville News Register front page story inset: "You put a tower right there with hardly any covering, you might as well paint a fingernail on the top of it because basically, you're flipping off every single neighbor up there." I'm so proud of my little sister. Now THERE's the Straight Talk Express. Take that T-Mobile. Now EVERYONE in Yamhill county will think of your lack of community concern when they see your tower. Really good for business.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Not Quite So Dead of Winter

Sorry I've been so lax in blogging. Besides having to share the 'fast' computer (in the heated part of the house), it's been too darn busy. Who'd have thought? We move to the woods and there's too much to do?????

Take this weekend. Friday night, we had to CHOOSE.
Choice 1: The kick off for the Cabin Fever Festival in Trout Lake. First, a soup contest. I make a mean soup. Many mean soups. I'd have to choose which soup. Too much stress. The soup contest is followed by a pot luck supper at the Mt. Adams Grange.
Choice 2: The Klickitat Democrats pot luck at the White Salmon Grange. Man, I haven't said 'Grange' since I lived in rural Rhode Island. And I said it twice in one entry. Wow.
Choice 3: The Voodoo Philosophical Society pot luck, complete with mock debate among fictional candidates of the Burrows and Rhinoceros parties.

Since we were invited to Choice 3 by some really nice folks we met recently, we committed to that. And we weren't disappointed. Apparently this group of free thinkers was started years ago by a couple in Hood River. The hostess was an incredibly sharp and interesting 80 something year old former political science and history instructor. She attended University of Oregon after graduating from high school in 1939. She, like my girls, was a competitive swimmer. She shared some stories about how women in those days were not allowed to compete vs other women athletically. So they swam their races and compared times with the women from the other team. Amazing. She also competed in CA with Esther Williams. I can't wait to talk with her again. She reminded me of my friend Jenny's mother, who attended Wellesley College back in the '40's and was a hoot to chat with when she visited TX.

So that was Friday. Today was day 2 of the Cabin Fever Festival. We passed on the nordic ski race and headed up to the guided snow shoe trek. A retired fish and wildlife service guy took us out and showed us all kinds of tracks in the snow. We saw tracks of turkeys, grouse, rabbits, squirrels, elk, coyotes, and bobcats. Just the tracks. OK with me. We saw a coyote the other day on our way to ski, and think we saw a cougar run into the trees near our neighborhood on our way home one night last week. I'm okay with tracks. Then we stopped to check out a nordic ski gear demo area and sled dog rides at the school, and had wonderful Mexican Coffees at the little espresso place behind the Chevron station in Trout Lake. A good day.

Tomorrow we're heading up to Mt Hood for the first time since we passed by last July. There's a nordic ski club trip, followed by a stop at a local brewpub we've never been to. So that's a must. And in honor of Martin Luther King Day (is it a week off this year or what!?!) I just may be heading to Yamhill County to see my sister.

So many choices, so little time. I love it here. My new friend Shelley is afraid we'll get bored and move away. HA!

Go Pats! I've reserved Feb. 3 for you. Please come through. I've got all my fixin's for a New England feast, including homemade Baked Beans. The welcome mat is out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Food for Thought

My friend Geri back in Texas has just posted an excellent piece on presidential leadership and our conflicts in deciding who best to lead. If you've got a few minutes, check it out here. I promise, it's worth reading. I won't even try to summarize because she analyzes and writes better than I do!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Full Disclosure

Dear Hillary,

Now that I've come out of the Hillary closet, I need to come clean. My overall record for presidential election success is NOT good.

My first presidential election was in 1972, when I was a college student. The best thing I can say is, my candidate, George McGovern, won my state. Unfortunately, Massachusetts was the ONLY state he won in a landslide national vote for the soon to be doomed Richard Nixon. Four years later, I was a working gal in Rhode Island. I messed up this year, because my twentysomething brain did not think about getting an absentee ballot. I was in the middle of Georges Bank on a Polish research vessel checking on the herring stocks when Jimmy Carter was elected. I would've voted for Jimmy, and he did carry my state without my vote, so at least I didn't hurt him. The captain of the ship had the returns coming in, and the crew was joyously shouting 'Jimmy Carter! Jimmy Carter!' when he won. Fast forward to 1980. As much as I liked Jimmy, I have to be honest here and admit that I voted for John Anderson, who ran as an independent. Bad choice. Jimmy won my state, again without my help.

We all know what happened after that. The 1984 Election was a disaster. Of course I voted for Mondale and Ferraro. This time, I didn't even get to claim the high ground for my latest state (Texas). By 1988 I'd moved to California. I couldn't claim victory for voting as Rhode Island did this time, as Dukakis got whipped by Bush I. Things started looking up in 1992 and 1996. I learned my lesson about absentee ballots, and voted for Clinton from Nigeria. A MIRACLE occurred, and he won both times.

Needless to say, it's been all downhill since then. My old voting states all went the same way I did in 2000, for the winner and loser, Al Gore, but by now I was in Louisiana. Score, Bush/Cheney. It was deja vus all over again in 2004, except I'd moved into the frying pan (Texas) for this one. So Hillary, I'm not a good barometer of presidential success. In fact, my only true successes were Clinton years. Maybe that's a good omen for you…but you shouldn't count on it. I did move to Washington to have a better shot at claiming state success, though.


Fenway Fran

PS: PLEASE send Bill on a trip away from the campaign trail. You can take care of business just fine. He needs a little break.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Obama Got Kerry, Hillary got Me

I had a revelation during the last debate, before NH, before the emoting. Actually, it was when Obama told Hillary was 'likeable enough' (how condescending) and when Obama and Edwards double teamed and relegated her to the 'status quo', as if ALL the work she's done in the name of change did not matter. I'm tired of Mr. Sunshine, and I'm tired of Mr. Angry. I'm tired of the media, who don't take either one of them to task as they do Hillary.

She's got the best resume of anyone left standing. Women of our generation have been waiting for an electable woman for a long time. I'll be damned if a guy with half the experience gets the job because he talks prettier. Words are good. Inspiration is good. But we've already seen what an inexperienced 'uniter, not a divider' can do. We've seen women's rights take a big step backwards. She said she does not want to see us go backwards. And I believe her when she says she'll send Bill on the road if she's elected. No more fence sitting. I've ordered my Hillary bumper sticker.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Skipping Lunch

It's a cold rainy day. We just had a weather alert on the radio for , get this SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS and potential for TORNADOES! No lie, my friends in Texas. Check the weather channel! SO I'm cleaning up some pieces that have been sitting around. This is one. It's dicey territory, so I've been thinking on it a while.

In our quiet little hamlet, there's a tempest in a teapot that's been boiling for some time. I got wind of it when I saw some letters to the editor in the local paper (not in the online version), and have been watching comments on a local blog. Things got a little revved up around the holidays, and there was another round of letters in this week's paper. It's also a big issue up the road in the little town of Lyle and has some folks sitting with pretty twisted panties. The issue? Secular prayer at a weekly lunch held at the senior center. Background on the senior center: The $5 million Pioneer Center, less than 2 years old, is a 25,000 square foot lodge design, a little less than half of it designated for the senior center. The rest is occupied by county offices. It was funded by a federal block grant and landfill funds ($500K each), a $2.5 million bond issue, and cash from the county. So you can see where I'm going with this.

Seems there is a vocal contingent of Super Deluxe Brand Christians who feel the overpowering need to pray very loudly in the name of Jesus Christ before the senior lunch. Now, if you define public as in out in the open, well, heck, you can pray all you want. You are, after all, FREE to pray and FREE to practice your religion of choice. I'd say as loudly as you want in your home or place of worship. In public, you really should have some respect for your fellow citizen and maybe tone it down a bit, or better yet, do it silently. Just my opinion.

But if you define public as in something supported by government funds, then you really ought to tie a little string on your finger to remind yourself that you live in a diverse society where not everyone shares your particular brand of religion, and that the funds that help build the facility and keep the cost of your lunch so low come from that diverse society. The 'if you don't like it, don't come' attitude is just not acceptable. Even if only one senior stays away because he or she doesn't feel welcome, it's time to take a good look in the mirror and ask WWJD.

I totally respect people's right to their religion. But I have always felt that religion was a private thing. I'm old enough to remember having prayer in schools. Every day, after the pledge, the class would recite the Lord's Prayer. In those days there was the Protestant version and the Catholic version. We Catholics were supposed to stop our recitation when the Protestants continued with 'For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever" because that wasn't in the Catholic version. Ironically, the Catholics added it in later. I remember feeling really awkward and excluded, shutting up till I could rejoin at AMEN and totally relieved when the courts decided we should pray in silence in public school. My first exposure to evangelical religion came while living in the South the past 10 years. I had no idea people publicly prayed at PTA meetings, football games, swim meets, awards assemblies, etc. I felt like I was in a time warp.

I was taught that prayer was a conversation with God. It need not be spoken, because God knows your thoughts. So who are these people trying to impress? If they want to pray before their meal, they may. But feeling they have the right in a public venue to lead the entire roomful of people in rote Christian prayer with a microphone means it's not just about the prayer. Especially after being told by and attorney to please pray quietly during a moment of silence at their tables. Prayers aren't for show. My twisted Yankee brain thought I'd escape all this stuff once I got back up north. How naive and ignorant of me. This is a widespread people problem, not a regional one. Let me rephrase: I thought I'd escaped all this kind of behavior once I got out of JUNIOR HIGH. I have to say, I'm really tired of people who use religion to divide, and whose concept of community ends with their place of worship. Now there are letters flying back and forth, threats of suits…Come on, people. Play nice! Be inclusive. It's what Jesus would do.

The other night we finally went to a movie. We saw Charlie Wilson's War at a wonderful little theater that serves pizza and local brews while you watch. We got there early and snagged a cushy sofa with a table to put our goodies on. The reason I bring this up is that one scene in the film reminded me of how much energy gets wasted over such drama. A constituent came in to see Sen. Wilson. His burning issue? He was told he couldn't put a crèche in front of the fire house in Lufkin TX during the holidays. He was incensed. Charlie told him, in straightforward East Texas fashion, that there were several perfectly good churches within a block of the fire house. Move it there and everyone will be happy. Problem solved. Anything else?

For anyone who reads this and gets ticked at me, I'll leave you with Matthew 6:5-6. ”And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Going Global in 2008

One of the things I like most about the holidays is hearing from friends all over the world. My favorite letter this year came from friends who lived with us during our early days in Nigeria. These were the days ('91-'93) before the big company compound 20 kilometers out of town created an American Oasis. We spent a couple of years in a 6 flat apartment building, with similar compounds scattered around Victoria and Ikoyi Islands. For those of us with kids in school, the American International School-Lagos was the hub of activity. This particular family had two older kids, in middle school while mine were in preschool and early elementary. Our kids are all grown now, mine in college and theirs out in the world. We always valued the experience of living overseas, and hoped it would positively impact our kids in their adult lives.

Well, it certainly has in the case of our friends' son Matt. After working as an attorney on international legal issues in Washington DC for a few years, Matt followed his heart to Germany, and has founded and developed a non-profit organization called Indego Africa, purchasing handicrafts from widows in Rwanda and selling them in the US. All profits and donations are used to develop skills and provide tools for these women to improve their lives. As you can tell, I was very impressed, and as one of my New Year's Resolutions, I am going to do my best to pass the word about Indego Africa. Please stop in and visit their website, and consider supporting this worthwhile cause. They are building a product line which started with wine coasters and basket ornaments shown here:They'll be expanding to include some beautiful baskets in 2008. Take a look at the flat baskets and the traditional agaseke baskets! I think you'll be impressed, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome 2008

I've never been a really big fan of New Year's Eve. It always seems to feel like one of those 'forced holidays', as in everyone shoud be happy and having a great time on New Year's Eve. I do fondly recall a couple of NYE's back in the late 70's, going to First Night in Boston, the early years of First Night. And a few comical ones in Europe with expat friends, all on R&R from Nigeria. Two of those involved Mexican restaurants in Austria, totally coincidental.

This year, I spent from about 10:30 am EST to 10:30 pm PST in transit from Boston to Portland via Newark. A 4 plus hour layover left plenty of time for people watching and contemplation. The crowd at the gate that my plane would leave from next was on their way to Rome. They'd be in the air for their midnight, whenever that was. How do you figure midnight? Does the pilot look on his GMT clock and extrapolate where he is so he can count down to Happy New Year? I think not. I watched midnight come to Moscow, then Berlin, while spacing out on Wolf Blitzer. Thankfully, he would break whenever a notable place hit the mark.

But I was running away from midnight. I got to Portland an hour and a half after Boston's Auld Lang Synes. Mine was still to come. We drove up I84 through the Gorge. It was surreal. Not a car or semi in sight. We eventually passed two trucks and two cars, and had the road to ourselves with a blustery head wind. Our midnight came just past midway over the rickety Hood River Bridge. Some fireworks went off in the little town of Bingen. It was quiet driving through Bingen, until we got to the corner where we turn up towards White Salmon. A small crowd of revelers was on the corner blowing horns and banging pots and pans. We honked the horn for a few yards to add to their celebration. White Salmon was already tucked in for the night. Very Peaceful.

I'm happy to be home. I wish for Peaceful in 2008.