Monday, June 15, 2015

An intimate vacation in Oregon

About six years ago, I went to Oregon for the first time and got some advice about places and sights from friends and readers--well, my hosts planned a fabulous vacation, and I saw wonderful sights, had some meaningful and fun-filled conversations with people I love, and the trip was Most Excellent.

Now I'm going back again for two weeks. One of my requests was the high desert part of eastern Oregon, and we will go to the Steen Mountains for a couple of days. There's a  wetlands bird sanctuary in the neighborhood. Most of the birds will be new to me.  We will travel in her Prius. Haven't had that pleasure before, either.

My friends have laughed about my request, because they are looking forward to it, too. After 11 years there, they haven't made this particular trip before. There's a rustic hotel with family-style meals like pot roast and roast chicken and fixins. Some light hiking for us, more strenuous for the more muscularly endowed.

We will get back to the four-mile hike through the Old Forest above Eugene, the way Oregon looked when the white man got there. I want to see it again, this untouched part of the earth.

And there's the jet boat down the Rogue River. It's a chance to see some wildlife, not a promise, but I've never been on a jet boat. And then, time to mosey around in the beautiful Oregon landscape, with greedy eyes out for what berries are ripe now. They have a lot of varieties they never ship--too fragile.  I know Costco sells a marion berry and hazelnut ice cream, which couldn't be more Oregon. I will be staying in the county that produces almost 90 per cent of the nations filbert/hazelnuts.

I want to go back to the Eugene Saturday street market/festival. We may get back to the coast again, the rocky, fascinating, beautiful coast with the frigid ocean water I've actually seen Oregon children play in. Mind-boggling.

It is not just that I have known these friends for 40 years, but that we have been active friends throughout. They will have things to do at times, and I, the half and half extrovert and introvert, will enjoy a little space here and there to read, and walk, and enjoy on my own.

We didn't spend time in Portland before, and now one of their daughters lives there in a big Victorian house she and her boy friend are renovating. It will be a mixture of familiar, new, and remembered-new.

I am so glad I am going

They have Shasta daisies blooming as wildflowers on the verge of the roads. Did you know that?

I have traveled pretty widely in my life. Oregon, for me, is just about as enchanted as I have found.

I doubt I'll ever get to New England, but I'd like to, in the fall, as a leaf peeper, greedily gorging on the old New England apples. Maybe I will.

Life keeps surprising me..

Friday, June 12, 2015

Helping to build a New Library

I am getting to do something I never imagined I would do.

A year ago, I volunteered for my small town's library advisory board. I knew we had passed a bond election to build a new one, and that sounded really fun to be involved with.

I love libraries. No matter how many computer programs they store, videos, when you walk in, you can smell the invigorating odor that lots of printed books living together generate. I love that smell.

I love the  reading programs we offer for pre-school, the enrichment programs--I finally got to this week's enrichment on raptors. Didn't know we had kites in Texas. Loved the owls and hawks. No eagles this day. And red-tailed hawks are still numerous across the land.

Last week, we had miniature therapy horses and 70 kids and adults to pet them, hug them, yes, raise their lips to show the teeth. It really was magnificent fun. We have other programs coming up.  At libraries, we try to offer the virtual and the real, We have classes. We have programs. We try to deepen community experience. I can now say we, because I am a small part.

The library here is small. The new one will be at least 5,000 sq. ft., still small but bigger. And with room for expansion. We aren't paying for new stacks and furnishings. Fundraisers and grants will pay for those. We want a library with the most technology we can build into it to support the future. The new library will offer the first available community room in town outside the schools and city hall. That matters to the culture of the community,

We are ripe. New subdivisions are going in all around us, if not in city limits, then in our zip code.

Today, we met with the architectural  planners to see the bones of it. We made some early decisions on the brick, the metal roofing, the flooring. We. that means I had a vote. Heady stuff.
For me, it is leaving a little bit of legacy to a town I have come to love.

I am so excited about the future.  I want to be here when it opens. I want to contribute to further success. I want to see the dream fulfilled. I believe in libraries. I want to see our citizens using ours.

Maybe that's not on your bucket list. Believe me, it is on mine.

I am retired. I volunteer in what  I believe in, what is helpful. Oh, and fun for me to do.
Yeah, there is work involved.  I'm kind of excited about that, too.

Yet another excuse to put off mopping the bathroom floor.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why I Am Not Eating Much Potk Now

I went into Subway today for a sandwich.

It was a difficult choice. I've given up pork. Between the cold cuts, the Black Forest ham, I could choose meatball, chicken offerings, steak and cheese, and tuna. I took tuna.

I've given up pork because of my own scruples, lately developed. I will cook the three hams I bought, and eat them. A pig died for that. I've bought turkey bacon. It's not to bad and it's actually healthier.

I'm not trying to start some movement, because I don't believe anyone would respond anyway. Somebody, sometime, may look at how we raise pigs, how we house them, how we feed them, and start some commotion about this being bad for humans. That's the only chance pigs have got. We have had 5 million pigs die recently, and all we care about is how high's the ham price, Mama?

So far, I buy cage free eggs, and I don't know how my chicken is raised, but that may be another problem. Cows have some happiness before they die, and thanks to research, we know how to slaughter them more efficiently now. They aren't frightened on the way to the slaughter. I'm glad for that. I LIKE eating meat. Always have.

But 80 per cent of our pigs grow up in small crates, where they can scarcely move. They are never touched. They never walk. The females are artificially inseminated, and the sucklings suck off tits available through holes in a board--so the sow won't accidentally roll over.

The living conditions are approved by the government. Their food includes ground feathers, rendered pigs, and sanitized chicken shit. Among other things.  Hey, you like that ham, that pork, so have I. Tasty.  FDA approved.

Well, apparently 20 per cent of pork is raised better. No doubt it's really expensive. I'm curious. Yeah, to feed millions of people, you have to get more practical about the pigs.

But you know, the next time you are eating a bacon cheeseburger and get all upset because some dog is kept on a chain outside in the rain? Pets are cute and cuddly. Pigs aren't. But they are smarter than dogs, and they have a lot of feelings. And we routinely raise them in sheer misery.

So I'm not eating pork, and it's hard not to. I hope I can find a source of pigs that had some happy time before they made my bacon. Misery bacon somehow doesn't taste so good.

As I look at my copy in my blog, all this empty space is there before this segment ends. I don't know why. I would love comments. I have other postings as well.  I usually think glitches like this are due to my technoignorance. 


Saturday, June 6, 2015

It was a really good party, as milestone occasions should be.

A private club on the 17th floor, with wide windows to gaze over a city that went on far beyond the horizon. Great food, plenty of wine, tea, coffee, and a lot of people dressed really nicely. The women in nice dresses. A lot of men with ties and jackets. The elders were all aging well, and the children all cleaned up and adorable. A lot of family, his, hers and theirs.

For Brenda and Bill's fiftieth wedding anniversary, their sons gave them what they would treasure most: a celebration with as many of their family and friends as possible. And it was joyous. The love is still as shining as when it began. It is infinitely deeper, more abiding, richer. While people live longer, 50 years of vibrant marriage is still a pinnacle most of us will never reach. It is right to honor it, because these two add goodness to all our lives.

If I were just caught up with the joy and happiness of a wonderful occasion, I could write this easily, freely, spilling all over. I am feeling my way to express it. Their sons gave them the party. One of my sons went to considerable trouble and effort to take me into the heart of Dallas during the Friday afternoon rush hour. Celebrating their bond strengthened ours, I think.