Category Archives: life


So here is something I remembered as I read about the Democratic sit-in. It is how much impact the Polish Solidarity movement had on the USSR. From there the thread lead to how controlling the GOP wants to be over all aspects of the US economy, land, and people. It’s not a democratic POV, but is closer to the USSR POV which disallowed disention.

Now, Solidarity began as a non-violent sit-in by Polish laborers. I remember reading and hearing about it as it happened. Here’s a link to a Wiki article about the movement:

Since I’m encouraging a bit of light reading, here is another link. This one is to a book I read when I was in my early twenties, The Gulag Archipelago. Because of this book and the book How to Lie With Statistics, I have ever since questioned authority even when in a position of authority.

Here’s a link about The Gulag Archipelago. After checking it out, I encourage you to read the book.

Keep On Keeping On

Wednesday, my gardening friend Nancy and I went to our plots to check our babies. My tomatoes looked confused, I expect because of the hot, cold, hot, cold, wet, dry, wet, dry, etc. weather.

Not confused were the slugs and cut worms. Ninety percent of my beans had been devoured. Out of 8 hills of squash and cukes, only 1 had any survivors. The corn that was popping up had holes in the leaves.

So I replanted, surrounded everything with organic slug bait and Dr Earth insect deterrent, and did a ceremonial dance to the gods-of-good-eating.

Like writing, gardening takes more than patience. It takes persistence, and persistence is my long suit.

Sustainable Living and The Greener Good

For the last couple of years I’ve been learning filmmaking. Mostly, I have worked with Pandora Patterson who founded the blog, For The Greener Good. During this time, I did a bit of script writing (Intro for the hosts), camera work, and sound – both in a studio and on location.

There’s a lot to learn and I still have a huge mountain to climb. But for now, here’s a link to one of the videos Pandora has produced: and here’s a link to the For The Greener Good website:

Questing Minds.

So here I am auditing a college freshman lit class — Survey of Western Lit. I had been rereading Gilgamesh this last fall and find out that is the first story we’re covering. Several times the prof looked right at me, so I came up with some insights.

Today was the 5th class and we were sitting in groups. The prof came up to me and said, “May I talk with you for a minute?”

Ye gads. Here I am umppity years old and being called out of class by the prof. So I do the walk of shame and we go out of the class room for a chat.

But I guess what I am saying is okay except this is a FRESHMAN class. Enough with bringing up the Hero’s Journey, etc. It’s a bit too sophisticated for this class. Don’t stop commenting, but can I please help the students to search for the answers themselves? Ask them questions?

“And,” she says, “I have some good books on myths I can loan you.” (She doesn’t know I’m a book hoarder. But that’s okay. I’d love to see what books she has).

Sure. And I go back to my group I (By now I’m feeling both possessive and protective of these four freshman). They were trying to come up with their arguments for a paper. They had chosen the gods and supernatural as their topics.

They all talked and then looked to me for guidance. I told them I needed to not give them the answers but point them in a direction. So I asked them questions and listened, and asked other questions. When the prof wasn’t listening, I threw in a bit of cultural anthropology and number of times something is done. I’ve always been into going across disciplines and it will get them looking at other sources for material.

When the class was over, our group was the last to leave. And the four young students with their wonderful young minds all said they were so happy when I sat down with their group and they loved to hear my comments in class.

Wow. What a rush when the young want to listen to what I have to say.

And as the whipped cream and sprinkles on my chocolate cake, one of the students wants to be a writer. And from the first day of class, I picked her out as a person with a writer’s mind by the comment she made when we we moving the tables and chairs around the room. — “And so there begins the thundering of chairs.”

So I’ll be helping her make connections to our wonderful world of writers. It’s time for her to meet her tribe.

A Drive Through the Past. A Walk in the Future.

Yesterday was a perfect day for a drive in the Willamette Valley. We puttered out to where I grew up which included a look at new homes tucked in the old growth forest off of Glass Road. Then around the bend to a strip of homes on the Willamette plus a drive through Charbonneau. There is a restaurant in the Charbonneau Village Center we’ll stop at another time. It has some good reviews.

I remember when my Dad cleared the land the giant housing development and golf course sit on. He farmed it for quite a few years before it was turned into a walled enclave smacking of entitlement.

After that, we drove west along the Willamette, following country roads that wound past filbert orchards and hop fields. The whole drive was under clear, sharp blue skies. Water droplets that had clung to the stubble from harvested wheat were now frozen and sparkled as we past.

It was a wonderful and satisfying drive. I was experiencing ennui and could not put my finger on the cause. I guess I was suffering from the need to touch the past. The drive took care of that and I am ready to actually begin 2016.

So today, I woke up to snow on the ground — a perfect day to hunker down and create. Later I think I’ll put on my boots and take a walk, maybe walk over to Hawthorne for a cup of tea and a scone. That will be fun.

The Evolution of Hope

Facebook likes are now being used by potential employers to see if you are a good fit for their company. So I add the like button to all those cute surveys and ego-boosting personality tests and share-this-or-you-are-guilty-of-not-caring posts to my user beware list.

Now this does not mean I won’t like something. I do like the prospect of peace, prosperity, and social justice. I like intellectual people. I like science. Oh, there are so many things I do like — cookies, cats, dogs, horses — animals and plants. I like writers and artists and creative people. I like our planet and would like to visit every corner and see every marvel. I love people from different cultures, religions, ethnicities, ages, sexes, and economic groups. They add depth and joy to my life.

But I’ll be up front about this. I don’t like sticking my head in the sand when it comes to climate change. Nor do I like passing laws that prohibit teachers from checking the science in text books. I don’t like dumbing down US students and citizens. It’s a way to control us.

I don’t like racism, bullying, ignorance, power-mongering, tunnel-vision, inflexibility, or violence. I don’t like hypocrisy. But I do realize we as a species will always have to deal with these issues because we are still evolving emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. I like evolution. It gives me hope.

Time To Face The Day

There is a study floating around about starting school classes later in the day due to the students being too tired to concentrate.

I take issue with simplifying the issue of sleep, time, and clocks. Here’s the rub. Not everyone’s biorhythms are the same. I have a friend who is awake and working on her computer by 5 in the morning. She goes to bed before 9. People who live on farms are up at the cock’s crow to do chores. Many outdoors people are early risers. They also stay up late and sleep the sleep of the well exercised.

I know a person who is a true night owl. Loves to work the night shift at a hospital, sleep during the day. He’ll always be welcome wherever there is a graveyard shift. And he keeps the same schedule on his days off. Well, he varies it a bit to spend time with friends, but he has no trouble sleeping during the day.

I am usually alert and awake when I roll out of bed. But I need a nap around 1or 2. That’s when my energy tanks and I almost collapse. It hurts to be up and doing something. But after the nap, I’m good to go. How late I stay up depends on what I am doing.

I use to feel I was being lazy when I took a nap. But I did live in Mexico for three years, and siestas are normal. A mid-afternoon nap gets you through the hot part of the day. So I guess I don’t nap, I take a siesta.

For some people, their sleep cycles are natural to them, others have developed a sleep rhythm due to external forces like work or school. Some people are alert when they pop out of bed. Others take longer to wake up, get the synapses working. Some want to sit, sip coffee, and read the newspaper. Others are hot to trot — shower, brush teeth, hop into clothes, and face the world while singing an aria.

But back to students and classes. I believe that many kids who cannot wake up for morning classes are playing on electronic devices and thus don’t sleep well – recent studies have shown that working on computers or watching tv before bedtime makes it difficult for people to sleep – it’s a neurological thing. Reading a book or doing something physical doesn’t cause the same problem. But that’s a paper book, not on a tablet, nook, etc. It is the media that is the issue.

And changing the time of classes won’t change the mind of a teen. If the school day starts at 8, teens will be up until 2am. If it starts at 10, they will be up until 4am. Either way, they will be tired when the first class starts.

And then there is another way to look at it. If I am here in Portland, Oregon what time should a person in New York go to bed? What time should a person in Boston get up and go to school?

The whole thing about time and clocks is time is natural, clocks are artificial. If you are on the West Coast and get up at 8, imagine you are really living in New York and you slept in, at least according to the clock.

Clothes for the Cause: A Recycling, Reusing, and Repurposing Fundraiser

I’m a collector, an artist, a creator. When we took apart the old dryer, the drum became a giant, outdoor flower pot. Deadwood pruned from my Japanese maple and twisty pine became walking sticks and garden fences. Clothes are worn until threadbare and then are cut into strips and used in art projects.

But there is a limit. And that limit is: How much room do I have to store potential art materials before I end up on an episode of Hoarders? Aye. There’s the rub.

One of my friends is a member of the Kenilworth Presbyterian Church in southeast Portland. OR. The church has a small community garden, and the parish lets me cultivate a plot. In it I grow organic beans, tomatoes, corn, tomatillos, eggplant, Swiss chard, and other lovely vegetables.

I like these people. They have good hearts. And even as a non-member, I try to help the parish as best I can – buying food for back-pack buddies, donating to their rummage sale, and now, gathering bags of clothes and other fabrics for their textile drive.

This textile drive is a new thing for me. I seldom throw away clothes and purging my closet is not a common occurrence. Mostly, I put clothes in boxes and store them in the basement. One reason is I used to work at Pendleton Woolen Mills. Visualize my wardrobe.

And that’s just a small part of my horde of vintage clothing.

So I read up on Clothes for the Cause, checked out their home page, read what they collect, was impressed by how they use the items they collect, and appreciated that they paid for the textiles donated.

So I bit the bullet, closed my eyes, and started stuffing bags with clothes. Occasionally, I held something up and said, “Wow. I used to be skinny.” Other times I said, “What was I thinking?”

Presently I have nine giant black bags sitting on my couch and loveseat. I’ve held out a couple Pendleton jackets, some awesome jeans, collector t-shirts, and vintage fabric. These will go to friends (jackets and fabric), the rummage sale (awesome jeans), and a local SF convention (collector t-shirts). Ah. And sheets. I’m hanging on to most of my stash of sheets. They have so many uses.

What I do donate will be sorted. Some will be sold. Some will become cleaning rags. And some will be shredded for stuffing and insulation. Little of it will end up in the landfill. What a good feeling.

So, if you are interested in really, really recycling, reusing and repurposing your clothes, check out Clothes for the Cause. It is a West Coast organization and if you miss a fundraiser, they have drop off bins in Portland, Boise, and Spokane.

Here’s the link for more info:

Living and Loving Life

Here it is 6:50 in the morning and I’m drinking coffee while I wait for it to get light enough to go outside and do more yard work. I love being outside trimming, raking, and weeding. And the trees, bushes, and flowers seem to enjoy the attention.

But six months ago, the joy of gardening had left me. Granted, I harvested my veggies and tried to do some clean-up, but physically and mentally, I was dragging my ass. Life just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be and wallowing in my sorrows suited me. But this was not the real me. Usually, I’m out looking for new and fun things to do. Was I just getting old?

What happened is I had been concerned about taking too many Ibuprofen for muscle pain, so I switched to Naproxen, another pain killer. I had been taking it for a while before a friend of my hubby told him that it can cause depression. Trust me on this. It was a relief to find out that it was an outside force causing my depression. And I did know I was depressed.

So I stopped taking it. It takes a while for a medicine to clear the body. For me, about 4 – 5 months. Now my love of life has returned. Wow. What a difference. I want to play outdoors again. I look forward to writing and creating new stories. Walking, hiking, visiting restaurants. Being with friends. I’m game. And I feel better. I look better. I am smiling again.

I look at this as a cautionary tale. Depression and loss of the love of life can put a person so far down the well that is seems impossible to climb back up into the light. And I did have friends who saw me depressed and took it upon themselves to keep me going. I was lucky. Good friends can make a huge difference.

And then this chance comment by a friend of my hubby clued me in to what was causing my depression. So here I am again. I smile in the morning when I get up. I look forward to the day.

Not everyone gets lucky and finds a way to lift themselves out of the downward spiral. Not everyone finds a simple solution of not taking a particular non-prescription medicine. There are thousands of people who suffer from depression. If you know someone, be there for them. It was my family and friends who kept me going until I found the fix.

Time Keeps On Slipping, Slipping, Slipping

When we bought our house there were three wonderful pine trees in the front north corner of the yard. The previous owners were Japanese, and these trees had been trained into lovely shapes and the branches pruned so we could see the trunk.

Eventually, I learned how to prune the trees, although I never did the pom-poms. Just not my style. Usually, from start to finish, it took from 2 to 4 weeks. You see, I used clippers and cut out all the deadwood, trimmed back the candles, and shaped the trees. Sometimes I used a Japanese pruning saw to cut out a larger branch that had died. I did this every year. Then every other year. Then every three years.

On occasion, I slipped out of the tree and sprained an ankle, cracked a rib, or hit my head. Scratches and bruises were normal. No whining unless I needed stitches or blood was gushing. However, when I was finished, they looked marvelous.

Well, it’s been 4 years and I feel guilty every time I look at the trees. They are in sorry shape with dead needles covering the lower branches and killing the new growth underneath. So. This may be my last time to prune. And they will again look marvelous when I am finished. But I’m starting not with clippers and a hand pruning saw. I took my pruning chain saw to some of the branches that have been my bane. Bazipp. Bazipp. The branches that made it difficult for me to crawl up inside the tree or impossible to safely place my extension ladder are gone. Well, most of them.

I’m not finished, yet. I need to rest a bit. It doesn’t pay to keep on working when I’m tired. That’s the way to a sprained ankle, cracked rib, or bump on the head.