Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Well it's official. Mom and I are now the shortest memebers of the family.

Within the family, It's reverse order. I'm taller than mom. My middle sister Robbie is taller than me and youngest, (my little sister who's taller than me) Colleen is the tallest at about 5'9". She married a guy who is 6'3".

Her youngest turned 12 this Spring and he's got about half an inch on me. It's a cliche, but it does seem just yesterday when we discovering the hard way just how far he could reach. He'd just found out what those things at the end of his legs were for. Next thing we knew he was helping himself to the milk jug. Fortunately it was almost empty because his reach definately exceeded his grasp. Heck he was only about a year old.

Time does fly. I can still hug him around the neck. I can just reach the next one, he's about 5'10". I have settle for a hug around the waist for the rest. Oh, five nephews. Age range is 12 to 19. All smart and all healthy. The rest is icing on the chocolate cake.

The weird thing is that both guys are the only boys in their families. And we end up with all boys. I've often wondered what it would have been like to have a neice. Oh well, may a grand niece.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


While we were waiting in line with a stack of spring plants, mom decided to add a little bag labeled Oriental Lilies. The spectacular blossoms above are from that bag. We got two stargazers and a white one that I haven't found the name of. There are three others that put out foliage but didn't bloom. I can hardly wait until spring.

The wonderful about Mother Nature is that she puts colors together that we wouldn't dream of pairing. I mean hot pink and burnt orange? But, it works.

The susans are still going strong, but looking a little frazzled. They've been going for more than a month now. The lavender is pretty well shot but still provides good hidey-holes for the local cats. Our porch is enclosed and I have a big window right by the computer desk. When it was raining last weekend, I looked up to see a curious kiitly looking back at me. Sleek little black one that lives next door.

Enjoyed Lisa's trip through the boomer years. I can relate. We also had a large freezer-and we filled it every year. Our yard was big enough for kids and a large garden. What we grew, we canned. The pantry in the garage held at least 400 jars and we filled it. My folks bought two things right after they got married. One was a sewing machine. The other was a pressure cooker. Sewing machine is a cabinet type and the actual machine has been replaced once. The pressure cooker has had a few gaskets replaced. If I really sat down and thought about it I could probably estimate how many jars have gone through it.

Dad worked in the timber industry. You could figure on losing at least a month every year because it was either too hot and dry to work or too wet. And believe me it had to be really wet and snowy to shut 'em down. He'd come home and mom would hang his wet weather gear on the line and turn the hose on it to wash the mud off. During the summer it was "Hoot Owlin'." The crews would head out about 2 in the morning. (This was before Daylight Savings Time-so it would start getting light about 4 am) They'd work until the humidity dropped below a certain point and come in. When the guys got home-they went to bed and the moms and kids headed for the local park by the river.

We had a four party phone line (imagine that) I can remember mom wrapping the phone in towels to muffle the rings.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


I’m having fun following the release of study that followed a group of women for several years and evaluated the results of drinking non-diet sodas and juice drinks. I believe the study lasted for four or five years. The group that drank the equivalent of one soda or more a day gained an average of seventeen pounds more than the group that didn’t. I believe there was also a slightly higher incidence of diabetes.

Of course the beverage and sugar industries are up in arms. Since there are other studies that show that large-scale consumption of sugar substitutes also seems to lead to weight gain and other bad results. It would appear that consuming these products just isn’t a good idea.

Face it guys, you’ve had the food equivalent of a gold rush for about twenty years or so and the vein is tapped out. Attacking the science that gives you results you don’t like isn’t going to change the results.

Also, I’ve learned to be cautious when spokesmen described as nutritionists offer their opinions. If they work for the FDA or the USDA they have to be careful what they say or they have members of congress breathing down their necks after they receive outraged calls from their constituents. If you can find a copy, Food Politics is a great read. It takes a little extra time to work through the science but it’s worth it.

One of ou finance people treated us to lunch yesterday. Darn it, I’m just not in training for that Olive Garden heavy lifting anymore. I’ll stick to the soup and bread from now on and skip the pasta.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


We’ve had a long stretch of hot weather this summer. The hot spell broke this weekend and it went the other way. It’s been 15 to 20 degrees cooler and raining. Personally, I don’t mind. The rain hit late Saturday evening and I spent awhile sitting on the porch just listening to the rain start. Lavender smells wonderful as it cools and the rain starts to hit. It just sprinkled for a while and the hopeful cricket next to the porch kept up his chirping. Then, somebody turned the faucet on full and even the cricket gave up. He probably figured no one was going to come calling during the deluge.

It’s funny, you can water and water and water and not get half the results that you get from the rain. Everything stands a little straighter and the lawns start to green up a bit. The neighborhood cats get that puzzled look-“I thought this stuff was gone for good, sheesh.”

On the way to work this morning I saw a piece of a rainbow up in the clouds. There was barely a curve to it, just a section of color. No camera, darn it. For a day or two after the rain stops, we’ll be able to see the trees on the hills and sneezing will be kept to a minimum. Ah, the southern Willamette Valley in spring and summer. When we aren’t sneezing at the grass pollen, we’re sneezing at the grass smoke. In a few days it’ll be pushing 90 again for a while, but it’s fun while it lasts.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Mascots and Hometowns

Lisa and I were messaging back and forth last night. Told her one of my nephews is a walk on for the Oregon football team. She shot back with the oh yeah, the “Fighting Ducks.” I came back with the “well what can you say, the other team is the Beavers.” That was followed with “well at least a beaver has teeth.”

If you have a problem with the idea of a “fighting duck,” (personally I keep seeing Donald Duck losing it) consider the mascot of the high school my mom attended. The U of O School of Education ran its own high school into the early 50’s. Three guesses what that mascot was, and no it wasn’t the Wolverines. It was (drum roll, please) the Ducklings. Can you imagine rooting for a rootin’, tootin’, fightin’ football team called the DUCKLINGS!

They closed the school in the mid fifties. Probably because there was no room to expand as Eugene grew after the war. Eugene, what kind of name is that for a town? It is original, I’ll give it that. Personally I live on the other side of the river, in Springfield, Not very original but at least people don’t give you a funny look when you tell them where you’re from.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Make that extremely frustrated. Enough all ready with the swift boats. We take the Portland Oregonian. There are three fascinating entries on page 2 of section A. One compares earlier statements from the cadre in Swift Boat Veterens for Truth ads. Their previous statements are 180 degrees from what they are saying now. The second entry is a lovely little flow chart showing connections to either the Bush family or Karl Rove. The third is a reprint of an article from the New York Times News service. An article that has information critical of both sides. That said, this is not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Hopefully, this is still not a country where knowing somebody who knows somebody who is related to somebody else can get you arrested or worse, dead.

OK folks, one candidate served in the Air Guard here in the states, the other was at best a first lieutenent. That's the equivalent of a platoon or if the officer is lucky, company commander. As far as experience goes, neither one is a General Eisenhower.

Two of our most sucessful wartime presidents were Lincoln and FDR. Lincoln's military service was limited to a stint during the Black Hawk war. But, he was a quick study. When it was suggested that Grant be replaced because of his drinking and cussing, Lincoln replied, "I can't afford to lose him, he fights." An exasperated Lincoln was also reported to have asked during McClellan's era if he could borrow the Army of the Potomac for awhile. It didn't look like the general was planning to use it in the near future.

FDR put in a stint as Secratary of the Navy-no other military service that I know of. But, he could choose good men. He listened to them and he supported them. And as near as I can tell, if he received contrary information he didn't shop around until he found someone with an opinion that supported his own. He trusted the people and he did his best to make sure that the citizens of this country had as much information as could be provided without compromising the war effort. Near as I can tell the current crew is doing exactly the opposite. Way to go guys. Let's let them know just exactly what you can find on a computer hard drive and where we found it.

I guess  the point of this little entry is this. We're being distracted again. Energy is being directed at something that doesn't matter and away from what does. Voting machines that can't be trusted, accusaitons that voters in Florida are being intimidated orthrown off the voter rolls, a carpet-bagging candidate for senator in Illinois, the list goes on  and  the fact that neither candidate appears to have a plan for getting us out of this mess. The ground pounders in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve more-a lot more.

If anyone is curious about Senator Kerry's accusations of war crimes during the Viet Nam war I have this suggestion. Fire up your computer and do searches under "Tiger Force" and "Operation Phoenix". I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

I really wish that Irish Cream in my coffee this morning was the real thing instead of Torani.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


I've been reading Lisa's recent entries. I'm going to have to chew on that for awhile and see what I come up with.

The 35mm is in for a tune-up. A little more than that actually. There are little rubber gaskets that cushion some of the parts and make for a good seal when you seat the lens. I've had Old Faithful longer than my middle sister, Roberta, has been married and she tied the knot in '77. Unfortunately the gaskets are as old as the camera and are shedding worse than the cats. Believe me, having little pieces of rubber falling on the mirrors and prisms inside the camera is not a good thing. It is almost impossible for an amateur (me) to clean it up properly.

I've got several rolls of film to work through anyway, not being able to shoot isn't a hardship. I do have the digital, but most of the results I've been getting just aren't worth the trouble. I'm looking forward to getting a new computer this fall. The one I'm looking at works about three times as fast. I can upload video to my Frankenputer, but the results look like mosaics. I guess, I could claim I was going for an "arty" look but I don't think anyone would believe me. Anyway, check out the Webshots connection every week or so to see what's new. :-)

I got what I hope were some good close-ups of the roses this morning.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Hit the Scandinavian Festival Saturday. Went by Lisa's booth long enough to get fed but if she and the others had been moving any faster they would have been airborn. For four days Junction City is one of the biggest (and well-fed) cities in Oregon. It's a big, happy celebration for Scandinavians-real and honorary. I'm mainly English, Irish and Scotch so there's probably a Viking in there somewhere. Hey, my nephews are part Norwegian, I'm honorary.

The beauty of it is that it doesn't pretend to be more than it is. It's an excuse for families to come out and eat, watch dancing, eat, look at crafts and artwork, eat, have fun, and did I mention there's food involved?. The whole town pretty much supports it. Everybody sets up shop just off the main drag and it takes up about six square blocks. Although if the wind is right you can smell it half a mile away. The music is wonderful, the costumes are great and just about everybody has a big grin plastered on their faces.

We had fun,

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Several months ago the company I work for got involved with a company that does motivational seminars. Near as I can tell, most of the motivation comes from sleep deprivation  memorization and very loud rock music. Needless to say we've been inundated with "feeling good, team building, yada yada" ever since. I have nothing personal against motivatonal speakers, but they do not ring my chimes.

A couple of months ago, someone put up two pictures. One was a blue sky and one was a cloudy sky, Above them was the question "Which one will you remember?" That prompted this little meditation.

Blue skies are pretty but uninteresting. Once you realize it's blue-basically it's "yippee, it's not going to rain!" By the way,  l live in the Eugene-Springfield area of Oregon. We have the reputation for getting far more rain than we really do. Lately we've been geting about 35 inches or so a year, mostly from October to May.

Now, clouds are fun. How many of you spent a summer afternoon lookimg up and trying to decide if that big one over there was a shark or an elephant. The shapes and colors are infinite. There are big, puffy, pure white cotton balls or high, wispy blue-white tendrils. Creamy grey patterns that look like fish scales or great dark almost blue black banks with pounding impenetrable downpours underneath. If you are particularly blessesd, the sun will be in just the right place to put a rainbow under those black clouds.

We went to my nephews' baseball playoffs a few years ago.The games were in Madras, just east of the Oregon High Cascades. There were thundershowers in the distance all day. If you were lucky the wind came from that direction and cooled things off a little. When we headed south for Sisters and the western cut-off for home there was a cloud bank to the east. It was almost black and there was a full double rainbow underneath. That rainbow followed us for about twenty miles.

Somehow, blue skies look bluer next to a pure white cloud. The patches of blue peeking through the clouds look so shy. Almost like children peeking over the window sill to see if anyone else is out playing.

Friday, August 13, 2004


The router on the server at work was down for awhile yesterday. I took some of the time to clean up some of my files. I came across something I had written on break early last spring. I was feeling really down and discouraged over all the negativity, the war, so on, etc. I was planning to copy it into my journal and I might some day, but not today.

I wish I could invite all the cranky canddates, all the true believers with guns to come and take a walk in our garden. Granted it would be a short walk and they'd probably have to take a number. It's not all that big and it is definately a work in progress. Come back next year and it will look totally different.

But, it does help to refocus my outlook. Short of nuclear war or total climate collapse some things are not going to change. The bumblebees will be hanging out in the lavender and the coneflowers. The butterflies and the hummingbirds will be visiting the fuschias and the butterfly bush. The dragonflies will be taking station on the lilies and the crickets will be chirping. The swallows will be swooping and the finches will be checking out the thistle seed feeder long after we are all pushing up daisies.

I'm not down playing the problems of the world, far from it. But, come to my garden. Take a deep, really deep breath and let it out slowly. Have a late strawberry stil warm from the sun. Check out the tomatoes. Have a cup of tea. Watch the bees. Have another cup of tea. I'll make muffins. Somehow I think it'll be hard to stay mad at somebody while he's licking homemade blackberry jam and butter off his fingers and trying to catch up with the muffin crumbs.

Just remember that the world was here long before us. If we do our jobs right and Creator willing, it will be here long after we are memories.

Sunday, August 8, 2004


George never talked very much about what happened to him during WWII. He returned our copy of Ernie Pyle's "Brave Men" about a week after he borrowed it with the comment.: "I can't read it, it brings back too many memories." That's when we found out he'd been in Italy. George served in the 45th, Thunderbird, infantry division. He was in the Oklahoma Guard for training when the war started and he didn't get out until the war was over. I believe he was a sergeant at the end of the war, but he mustered out as a private. He and some buddies didn't feel like waiting for official permission to leave Fort Dix. His rank was restored several years ago. He claims the closest he came to physical harm was when a bullet cut through the strap on his rifle. I can't imagine the memories he came back with. From what I've read about Italy, take "Band of Brothers"-tripled. The division served in Sicily, Anzio, Italy,  southern France and Germany. For some small idea of what it was like, try Bill Mauldin's "Up Front." His shoulder patch had a Thunderbird on it, too.

George came home, married-no children, worked construction, and nursed his first wife though a long illness. He found love again, drove the Alcan highway-twice, and made numerous highway trips home to Oklahoma. He was always there when a neighbor needed help.

George doesn't drive anymore. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three years ago. He still stands as straight as he ever did. He waves when he sees me. His wife, Eileen, is caring for him with the same love he showed when it was his turn. What goes around does come around.

Saturday, August 7, 2004


This has been a very good day. Shot out a role of film this morning. Actually managed to do the whole roll in the front yard. The lily assortment we got last spring includes a spectacular star gazer lily. Film at 11-actually sometime tomorrow afternoon. I hope, I hope, I hope. I'll upload the best of the shots to my albums on Webshots. Darn,  I like the sound of that. Actually I've been pleased with the results I've been getting. Working on upping the percentage of shots that I really like. The picture on the film doesn't always match the picture in my mind. For anyone who is interested there is a link to Webshots in the favorite journals section.

We went out to one of the local truck gardens and replenished the veggie supplies. They had some half flats of blackberries that we just couldn't leave behind. Of course once we did that we had to make jam and pie filling. I think blackberry makes the most beautiful jams and jellies, the color is spectacular. Of course once you have jam you have to make something to put it on. Surprising how fast you can turn out a batch of rolls when you have the right motivation.

Lisa is doing the local Filbert Festival this weekend. The park is all of five blocks from here, so I'll look her up in the morning. I hope this event is more successful than the county fair they were working last weekend.

Got quite a surprise at work yesterday. Came in and there was a card and a beautiful dwarf calla lily on my desk. The card was from my fellow cubicle jockies congratulating on meeting my weight loss goals. Any little sniffles heard from my corner of the room were purely coincidental. These are a fantastic group of people. And not just becuase they gave me a flower.

I guess it's time the lower the curtin on this day and go get horizontal. May your night be as good as my day. :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2004


Circle the wagons. There's another terror alert out. Turns out the information is several years old. When you put it with what happened on 9/11 the whole thing sounds like a shopping list of possible targets, with the trade centers, pentagon, and white house making the short list.

I'd like to believe the threat is real. I know, this sounds really weird. But darn it, these alerts always seem to come right after the democrats have good poll results. I realized this connection about two alerts back.

Even if they are picking up recent transmissions, heck Al-Quaeda doesn't have to blow anything up to tie us in knots. All they have to do is threaten to do something and we do the rest. Meanwhile real people are getting hurt overseas and we still don't have an exit strategy.

Sunday, August 1, 2004


I only caught part of John Kerry's speech the other night but he said something that echoed things said by the veterns on the oral history that is part of the Band of Brothers DVD collection. The men from Easy state over and over that they weren't heroes. The heroes are the men that didn't make it home or went home with severe injuries. Richard Winters, who went to Europe a lieutenent and came back a major, quotes a letter from another member of Easy. "My grandson asked me, 'grandpa, were you a hero?' grandpa answered 'no, but I served with a company of heroes."

Kerry said much the same thing. That he didn't see himself as a hero. The heroes are on the wall.


Went out this morning to do a video grab out front before the light got too bright to use the lcd screen on the video camera. Discovered a few new blossoms on the lavender stalks. The lavender patch is doubling as a bumble bee motel. As soon as the sunlight got bright enough and a few sunbeams got bright enough to warm them a little off they went to dance.

The spell of very hot weather pretty much wiped out the clematis and the glads. The black eyed susans are very happy as long as they have water. But, hey, at least our yard looks interesting long after all the local lawns have turned brown. Keeping grass green in this area is almost impossible. The neighborhood is built on a layer of clay and the water runs right off.

The cats became furry puddles and kept giving me that patented pussy cat glower. "This is your fault, why can't you do something about it."They are much happier this morning. Just enough sun to bask in, not enough to melt. I have to admit. I wouldn't like wearing a fur coat with no zippers.