Friday, July 31, 2009

Today is the end of July and it’s the last working day of the month so it’s payday—yeah! Tomorrow is the first of August, the last holiday month of the summer—boo! I have a bittersweet relationship with August. While I love the fact that it is still nice weather and the first fruits of the harvest are being reaped, I feel the sands of summer trickling through the hour glass of my time away from school.

Now is the time for thoughtful parents to prepare for their children to return to school. Me, too. September can be an extremely expensive month with the purchase of supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks, emergency packs, and pictures. When mine were going to school they also sold insurance in Fall. I don’t know if they still do that. I never availed myself of that which I purchased, but I guess it bought some peace of mind for me. I remember September as being a month where the money just flew out of my wallet. Nowadays if you’ve a child in high school you also have to pony up for a graphing calculator which in all likelihood your child will never use after fulfilling their math requirement and you will not know how to use for that garage sale because the thing is too complicated.

If you aren’t sending a child or grandchild back to school, remember those low-income children who do not want to arrive on the first day in last year’s things and no supplies. There are always donation bins at banks and grocery stores where you can put in a package of paper or box of pencils that will be greatly appreciated.

August first is the Celtic celebration of Lughnasa or the first harvest festival. It honored the Irish god Lugh. I can see why the Ancient Celts celebrated the time of year. It was the time for them to begin reaping the rewards of the work of Spring and Summer and begin to think about the coming Fall. I am always a season ahead mentally so some ancient memory must linger in my brain that even in this age of super markets (emphasis on “super,” as in huge) and shopping malls I am always planning for the season to come; so in Summer I plan for Fall and Winter. For instance I am currently scouring thrift shops for footed pajamas for a grandson size 6-7 and a granddaughter size 5.

It is lovely that Lughnasa is falling on a Saturday this year which in Ilwaco is also farmers’ market day. We can have a Lughnasa dinner filled with the flavor of the first harvest. Since I incorporate different things into our tradition I will probably prepare Gormeh Sabzi, a Persian dish, for our Celtic celebration. I’ve posted the recipe previously. You can fiddle with it and use whatever is on hand. I like to use broth instead of water and I use the crock-pot because preparing a meal in one costs about eight cents in electricity and stays in line with my commitment to walk gently on this Earth that gives us Her bounty.

August means the blackberries will begin to ripen. With not much rain this summer I don’t know fat they will be. Right now the ones in my departed neighbor Viola’s yard are just beginning to turn with just the point-men at the end of the clumps beginning to darken. August means blackberry pie and milk-cartons filled with the frozen fruit for use in Winter.

The nip in the air which will come toward the end of the month will also herald the beginning of the end of Summer though the nice days will linger into September, the night s along the coast will remind us that Autumn is coming. After the heat wave we’ve come through, nippy nights sound delightful!

For further reading on Lugnasa, which has many different spellings, click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The View From My Porch on a Foggy Morning

This photo of my porch is from last summer. I tried to take another picture and send it to my computer, but it doesn't seem to be working. Everything looks much better this year.

This morning I ate my cereal on the porch. While Dave was here we were having bigger breakfasts in the kitchen, but I hate to do that too much and returned to my Fiber One this morning. I feel guilty sitting on my cool porch, watching the cars go by and the fog inch back toward the ocean. I've invited the children to come down. We'll see what another day of 100 degree heat does for them.

Because we don’t have any sort of television receiver here our entertainment is the porch during the day with the radio in the background and movies on the VCR at night. Since it’s Thursday two different trucks will be by today. It is garbage day and it is also the day that the City of Ilwaco sends the street sweeper around to make sure we look presentable for the tourists. I’ll wager there will be a lot of them this weekend coming to escape the heat of Portland and Seattle. The forecast on KIRO radio’s (where my brother-in-law Tim Haeck has been a reporter forever) website says that most of Washington will not be getting the relief that was thought would come today and tomorrow.

The City of Ilwaco has already spruced us up. The chipped yellow fire hydrant in front of the house has been painted fire engine red and the yellow stripe on the curb refreshed. City workers came to do the stripe yesterday and I told them how much I was enjoying their efforts. Our house is located on the street coming into town from Astoria so for folks coming down the Columbia we are the welcoming committee for visitors and although Ilwaco has suffered some tough economic times and there are plenty of buildings that need attention, we are putting on our best face.

Kitty corner from us is another Victorian that’s getting a face lift this summer. The house is owned by a Master Builder and a Master Gardener. When they purchased the place three years ago they added a large kitchen onto the back of the house and shingled it cedar shakes left to weather to gray. The same with the picket fence the husband built—cutting out each and every picket. Unpainted shingles are the way to go down here which is the reason that when we had the South side of our house done last summer we opted to leave it natural. Eventually the whole house will look like that, but the economy has called a halt to further renovations here. In the meantime I can enjoy watching the houses that are getting new shingles or fresh paint this summer. We had to settle for mildew removal on the North side this summer.

Next weekend is our Frieze Family Reunion in Shelton. I will have to return to Gig Harbor in time to cook and bake for the occasion. Mostly I am excited to get to hug people I’ve not seen in years, one as many as 30 and one babe I’ve never met. I am taking my grandmother’s pineapple cookies, soft sweet indulgences that she made for her grandchildren, as well as Aunt Mary’s coleslaw which is different from the usual slaw and is a favorite with us. I love traditions and making recipes that the women in our family might have made had they still been with us makes me feel like they will be there in spirit.

Well, it’s time to move the water and put in another load of laundry. That’s the view from my broom and my porch. My grandmother always said that coming in one door and going out another would bring company so I’ll go through the kitchen and out to the washer at the barn and see if that brings the children!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Keeping Cool on the Coast

The view from my broom is currently soupy. Monday my daughter Amy and I escaped the heat in Gig Harbor and came to the Long Beach Peninsula. I nearly left at 10 PM Sunday and it wasn’t nearly as hot there as it has been yesterday and today. Although it has been beautiful each day here and we watched beautiful sunsets last night and the night before, cool ocean breezes have kept the house very comfortable, even upstairs in our old Victorian with the low ceilings and no AC.

This afternoon as Portland and Seattle were experiencing record temperatures the fog began to roll in here, quickly dropping the temperature from a high of 70 today down to a current 58. The fog is so thick I cannot see the Ilwaco headlands from our front porch.

This evening my husband had to drive home for work tomorrow and said that he hit a wall of heat in Olympia that was “bat @#$% crazy.” I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to be sitting in my cool kitchen, looking out the door at the darkening fog. I’m not going back to Gig Harbor until things get better!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Mom Casey

This is a picture of me with my granddaughter Linda and her Great-grandma Casey

One of the many ways I realize that I am getting old is where I see friends and acquaintances. It used to be that I saw the people I grew up with at weddings, first at each other’s and then at our children’s. Now it is funerals. I’ve another to go to Friday and it’s a tough one.

My ex-mother-in-law passed away Monday night at home in Milton, WA after a long decline in health. For many the loss of an ex-mother-in-law does not disturb the surface, much less the depths of the pond of life, but mine was special.

I married at age 19 which was a time when my mother was largely unavailable emotionally for me. Connie Casey welcomed me into the family and immediately became a source of love, support and guidance when I needed it and could always make me laugh. She was a good Catholic and a good Christian. In the truest sense she tried to live the very best sort of life and to offer love to everyone who came here way. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.

From Mom Casey I learned that there is always room in the dishwasher or refrigerator for one more thing. I learned that regardless of how many people show up for supper you can always "do the loaves and fishes thing" and there will be enough for all. I learned that when St. Anthony is done with a thing he will bring it back, but you can't rush him. From her I learned how to be a mother. I hope I learned how to be a mother-in-law.

When her son and I divorced eight years later I did not feel as though I was divorcing the family and continued to think of them as Mom and Dad Casey. Only in the last few years, when my ex's wife complained that I was usurping her place in the family, did I back away from regular contact with my one-time family.

Mom Casey had breast cancer in the early 1990s and the chemotherapy caused her mind to become quite confused. The doctors said that it would clear up when the therapy was over and to some extent it did, but she was never entirely the same. Still she was a loving force in the family and my children loved her dearly.

So Friday I will be going to another funeral; one where I am not a member of the family per say, but feel as though I have lost another of the important grownups in my life. I will never forget the things I learned from Mom Casey when I was a young woman and mother. It was an honor knowing her and to be able to call her “Mom.” If I can be half the mother-in-law to my daughters-in-law that she was to me then maybe I will have achieved my desire.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Summer is frequently the time for reunions whether they are high school or family. defines the word “reunion” as “a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation.” Obviously these people know neither my family nor my graduating class since we do not reunite at regular intervals. What were the odds that either one would plan a reunion for the same decade little own the same day?

My high school class—Sammamish class of 1969—has been abysmal at having reunions. There hasn’t been one in 20 years. This year it has been—gulp—40 years for my husband and me. And wouldn’t you know when they finally decided to have one it landed on the same day as a reunion my family, also abysmal at reunions, is having!

It only took me a “New York minute” to decide which reunion I’d go to. Last summer I had my father’s home movies put on CD. My favorite scene is of a family reunion circa 1953 with my grandfather pushing his five grandchildren in a wheelbarrow. It is perfect snapshot of post-WWII Americana worthy of Norman Rockwell. I love it. It fulfills my fantasy of our family.

So I am forgoing the high school picnic in favor of a family barbecue. I never like to pass up an opportunity to show off my children, daughters-in-law, and my amazing and beautiful grandchildren. I want to see if my family can see the faces of those we’ve all loved in the faces of my grandchildren. I can.

I would like to think that we all have many more years to get everyone together, but the reality is that we are neither young nor well organized. This will probably be it. I’m making my grandmother’s pineapple cookies and getting my camera fixed so that I can document this reunion for the babies the way my father documented ours so many years ago. The baby babies won’t remember, but the five-year-olds may. Hey, I was only two in 1953 and I have memories of that day.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cheer Up Charlie

My girlfriend, who is thus far grandchildless and enjoys mine, has observed that small children are entertaining for grandparents. Art Linkletter understood that when he included his “Kid’s Say the Darndest Things” in his show in the 1950s. My own grandchildren have been a source of amusement for the past five years.

Gabriel, pictured above and the grandchild who lives with us and is surrounded by adults, frequently models them. Yesterday he had a gymnastics clinic at the Morgan Family YMCA in Tacoma. Another little boy in his group got into trouble and was told to go to the end of the line. This news made the little boy very upset and he began to cry. According to the teacher Gabriel said, “It’s okay. I’ll go to the back of the line behind you and then you won’t be last.” While they stood in line Gabriel patted the little fellow on the back and sang, “Cheer up Charlie” to him.

After class my son and daughter-in-law were told this story which made them smile and feel very proud of Gabriel. He was allowed to choose a reward for being such a good friend and he picked going to Odyssey with his daddy on Sunday followed by Indian food for lunch.

Sometimes the little “crumb crunchers” as my father called them, can just about drive you crazy, but then they turn around and do something so over the moon charming that you can’t hardly stand it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cooking with Lavender

I thought I’d post some lavender recipes. These came from the official Oregon Lavender Destinations brochure. At the Old Dutch Mill Herb Farm we learned that some lavender doesn’t work well in cooking due to the amount of camphor in the plant. Be sure to purchase culinary lavender or check with your nursery person.

Glazed Lavender Tea Cake
My girlfriend prepared this recipe for our lavender weekend and it was wonderful.
1 C. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 T. finely chopped culinary lavender
5 T. butter
1 large egg
1 ½ C. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 C. plain fat-free yogurt

Glaze: 1/3 c. sifted powdered sugar plus 1 tsp. water plus ¼ tsp. vanilla extract (since I love rose and lavender together I wonder how rose water would work in place of the water and vanilla).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare cake, beat granulated sugar, butter and ½ tsp. vanilla at medium speed of mixer until well-blended. Add egg and egg white, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lavender.

Pour the batter into an 8 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

To prepare glaze: Combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Spread over hot cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on a wire rack, remove from pan and cool completely.

Lavender Walnut Scones from Blue Heron Herbary

My girlfriend also prepared this recipe, minus the walnuts she knows I’m allergic to. You could substitute almonds (which don’t bother me) or leave them plain. With a little clotted cream or lemon curd these are yummy.

2 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/3 C. sugar
2 T. fresh culinary lavender or 2 tsp. dried culinary lavender
2 T. margarine
1 C. nonfat buttermilk or soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Vegetable cooking sray
3 T. chopped walnuts

2 T. sugar (my girlfriend used lavender sugar, the recipe for which is below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add buttermilk or soy milk and vanilla, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened.
Drop by 2 heaping tablespoons, 2 inches apart onto baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and remaining sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden. Yield: 1 dozen.

Lavender Granulated Sugar from Christine Mulder, Barn Owl Nursery

For every cup of lavender sugar you wish to make use 1 tablespoon dried, organic English lavender flowers. Place sugar in a food processor or blender with lavender, mix for a few seconds until well blended. Measure out what you need for the recipe, and place the rest in an airtight container to use later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day Two of the Oregon Lavender Festival

The weather took a decided turn for our second day of tooling the highways and byways of Oregon, enjoying farm after farm of lavender. It was hard to believe that last year we were sweltering in triple digit heat and have agreed that overcast is much preferable to blazing sun. By the end of day we had rain, but by that time the festival was over for another year and we were tooling the aisles of Goodwill in McMinnville!
My friend Violet was obligated to sing at church before we could go out and play so we got off to a bit of a late start. We began day two of our lavender journey at Lavender Thyme Herb Farm in Canby on Needy Road (a most inauspicious name) where we’d been greeted by the growling dog the evening before because they’d closed early. This time the place was bustling with people. We purchased some lavender things and then sat at one of their umbrella shaded tables—although there was no need for shade—and ate our picnic lunch.
After we’d fueled ourselves we headed to Independence, Oregon, stopping along the way at Fred Meyer to fuel the car and the bank to fuel our pocketbooks. At Independence we went to Lavender Lake Farms which is located right along South Pacific Highway. Although the location was not as picturesque as other farms we’ve been to, the lavender was beautiful and the gift shop lovely. It was there that I purchased some lavender chocolates which we enjoyed at day’s close.
Not only is Oregon littered with lavender farms, but vineyards abound as well. Our next stop, Daffodil Hill Vineyard, was both—or attempting to be. Nominally located in Rickreall, Oregon, it is actually a good ways up more than one gravel road, but the drive was beautiful taking us past fields of mown hay and grapevines. It is truly beautiful country. When we had wended our way halfway up the drive we were met by a woman collecting an admission fee. We were flabbergasted as no farm has ever charged an admission fee to see the farm and for the opportunity to buy their wares and nowhere in the Oregon Lavender Festival brochure was a fee mentioned.

We were told that the money was going to go to “Women Ending Hunger.” We’d driven a long ways to see this farm and turning around wasn’t going to be easy so we each grudgingly passed the woman five dollars. I am sure that “Women Ending Hunger” is a laudable charity and we were given a little handout about the organization, but no receipt for tax purposes. Presumably the farm will be getting the income tax deduction for the money collect. We were flagged into a field where we parked and briefly waited for a small tractor and wagon to take us the rest of the way up the drive. Since there was a large party ahead of us we decided to walk.

Daffodil Hill Vineyard has a lovely situation and it was lively with booths and music and people (they were making a big dent in hunger). Unfortunately for us most of the booths held no enticement to spend money as it was geared for the wine/western crowd, not lavender. Their lavender products shop had many expensive items which we did not purchase. We might have been more inclined to had we not felt as though we’d just been held up at the pass so to speak. After seeing all that there was to be seen and using their port-a-potty we hopped on the next tractor wagon back down the hill, disappointed with the whole thing. It is not that I have anything against "Women Ending Hunger" or giving to charity, it is just that I like for it to be my idea and a freewill offering. While the woman in the road was wearing a smile instead of a bandana and was not packing a six-shooter, I felt as though we'd been held up.
We could not help but feel that we had to a great extent wasted our time with Daffodil Hill Vineyard. Yes, the drive, while on a less than desirable road, had been beautiful, our Lavender Festival time was running out. Violet turned her now very dusty car toward Dayton, Oregon and Red Ridge Farms. Red Ridge was a known quantity as we had been there last year and despite the soaring temperatures had enjoyed the gorgeous views from that ridge. It was just before 4 PM when we arrived and the place was nearly deserted, a much different atmosphere than last year. One of the beauties of Red Ridge Farms is that they not only have fields of lavender, they have some beautiful garden accessories. I have been looking for a pot for my fichus which my grandson knocked over, breaking the pot. Flower pots, even plastic ones, can be expensive and so far I had been disappointed. As if to sooth us for wasted journey to the previous farm, providence had placed a very reasonably priced and beautiful purple pot in my path.

We had hoped to view one more farm before Oregon Lavender Festival 2009 came to a close, but traffic convinced us otherwise. We drove back to McMinnville to their Goodwill (it is always nice to visit other Goodwills) and then to Silverton for dinner at Thai Dish before heading back to Mt. Angel. Our lavender journey was at an end, to be stored away amongst the memories we have acquired together these past 52 years.

Advice I would give about festival going in general is to pack a picnic and take plenty of cash. Many of the little booths you come upon do not have the ability to accept plastic although most vendors are gracious about checks. If you can ask of someone about places ahead of time, do so. You will save yourself time and money.

This day we ended not with a growling dog, but with Sophie the Cat who was very happy for company.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day One of the Oregon Lavender Festival

We started our Oregon Lavender Festival tour in Yamhill where there is a festival held in Beulah (don’t hear that name enough) Park. There we wandered around from tent to tent. I bought several plants and my friend and I both bought lavender jelly, splitting a four pack at a bargain rate. Before leaving we stopped by the concession stand to get lavender Snickerdoodle that was wonderful!
Our first farm stop was Willakenzie there in Yamhill. The farm features a wide range of plants, cut lavender, and u-pick available. The farm also keeps Velveteen Alpacas and demonstrates spinning and weaving with products for sale. Their gift shop is all things lavender including candy, cookies and soda. I am not a big soda fan. Had the drink been noncarbonated I would have bought some. We purchased some lavender sorbet and sat on a patio enjoying both the delicacy and the view as the sun began to burn morning clouds away.
Our next stop was Woodland Lavender Farm, also in Yamhill. There was lavender a plenty and a few arts and crafts. A raffle for the Oregon Food Bank was going on so I gave them five dollars. The best parts of Woodland was its situation, which is beautiful, and the fact that they were handing out free bottles of water.
Barb’s Dutchmill Herb Farm, which has no website, was a folksy place run by an elderly couple. Barb was more than happy to take us around and show us all of her organic lavender and herbs. Her gift shop is sparse, but what it lacked Barb makes up for in personality. They also sell organic chicken eggs and we came away with two dozen. It was here that we ate our picnic lunch.
Helvetia Lavender Farm, located in Hillsboro, was jam packed with people. It is more festive than the Yamhill Fair. Set on a hill its situation could not be more beautiful. There were booths, music and food. A tea room had been attractively set up on the deck of the owner’s house and we had “scone cake” smothered in berries, our choice from a short list of tea, and a chocolate truffle.
For the farm Lavender at Stonegate is located in West Linn, a bedroom community to Portland. We had to take a van from the nursery parking lot a short way to the farm. A field which had previously been used as a parking lot for the festival has been given over to the raising of vegetables, doubtless because of the current economical situation. They did not have a great deal of lavender products, but I came away with a five dollar bouquet.
Our second to the last stop of the day was Barn Owl in Wilsonville. I have written before about Barn Owl and it was a busy place on this first day of the festival. Barn Owl has the largest gift shop and for the festival had a few booths set up in the yard.

Our last stop was a lock out. Despite the fact that the festival was to run until 6 PM, Lavender Thyme Herb farm in Woodburn was closed when we arrived and greeted by a growling dog.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Please continue to check out websites posted by the freedom fighters in Iran. There is a link under my favorite blogs called “Rotten Gods” or you can click here. The posts there include Youtube videos that are very informative.

Lavender Weekend: the Journey Begins

Today begins my lavender weekend. Yesterday I drove from Gig Harbor, WA to Mt. Angel, OR for a weekend of lavender fun with my very oldest and dearest friend. As is my want I got off the freeways as soon as may be at Oregon City and wended my way through Canby, Barlow, and Monitor, past roads with names like Whiskey Hill and Scone before arriving in Mt. Angel.

It was surprisingly overcast in Oregon and threatening a thunderstorm that never came. After a late lunch or early dinner (which was very inexpensive due to the early hour) at the Glockenspiel Restaurant in downtown Mt. Angel we settled in to watch a Haley Mills movie that took us back to the 1960s. We were wild for Haley when we were little girls.

As soon as we pack a picnic we are off to Yamhill to begin our participation in the Oregon Lavender Festival.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dear President Obama

Several weeks ago my then four-year-old grandson Gabriel came to me asking how to spell Obama. A few weeks before that at dinner out of the blue he had asked my husband and I if all the soldiers just went home wouldn’t there be peace then? When he brought the subject up again two days later I told him that he ought to write a letter to the President and tell him his idea.

Three weeks went by before he came to me with paper and pencil (I got him a pen) and asked how to spell Obama. His patient Mamae sat with him and made him sound out every word he wanted to write. It went something like Dear President Obama, If you let all the soldiers go home then there would be peace. Sincerely, Gabriel Francis Casey-Aguinaga. I briefly contemplated writing a note of my own to include with his explaining that this was the singular work of the mind of a four-year-old alone, but by the time I asked if he’d sealed the envelope it was too late so I addressed it, put a stamp on it and the next day put it in the mailbox in front of the house we share with Gabriel and his parents.

Many more weeks have passed. This morning I left for Oregon to attend the Oregon Lavender Festival. This afternoon my son called me saying that Gabriel had something to tell me. “Remember when I wrote the letter to President Obama?” Of course I remembered. “I got a letter from him today!” He sounded so excited! I told him I couldn’t wait to see it when I get home on Monday. When my son got back on the telephone he told me that one of Gabriel’s comments had been “It’s just like the President is right here in the room and we’re having a conversation!”

I had hoped that eventually Gabriel would get some sort of response from the Oval Office. My son says it is a form letter, but I will decide for myself when I get to see it on Monday. In the meantime I have a very happy and impressed grandson.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Reading

I always have a tall stack of books waiting to be read. For me summer is an opportunity to read that I don’t get the rest of the year. Just being out of school doesn’t mean I have no responsibilities, but I manage to get in a book or two of summer reading. Our Neighbor Kim has said that she’s reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable and Miracle this summer. I’m just finishing up Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation Speaks, the sequel to his first Greatest Generation book. What are you reading this summer?

Are Our Cars Reflections of Our Lives?

Today I cleaned my yellow Neon, affectionately known as the Zonker for the 1970s popcorn snack “Screaming Yellow Zonkers,” for my trip to Oregon. I don’t really enjoy this process, but as part of my 2009 effort to be more organized I am including my car. While attempting to get the dog hair from our Rat Terrier Loki off the black carpeting and upholstery I ruminated on the notion that how one keeps one’s car is a reflection of one’s life. If that is the case, mine is a disaster. But as I said, I am trying to mend my ways.

My middle son is a wonderful artist and his car is filled with art supplies and plastic ware left over from lunches. The only time he cleans it is to take his wife and son to the airport and then to pick them up two months later. His car looks exactly like his “art room” which is our little downstairs bedroom. I am trying to limit the contents inside of my car to my CDs. What do you keep in your car?

Today I cleaned the inside of the Zonker. I cleaned the “Pup Kiss,” Loki’s nose prints, off the windows, vacuumed out his dog hair and the crumbs from the grandchildren and wiped down the surfaces with Armor All. Tomorrow will be washing the outside day. I hate doing that, too, but fortunately it has become unecological to wash one’s car in the driveway and I buy carwash tickets from the Gig Harbor High School Debate team. I like supporting students who don’t fall into the jock category since they get largely overlooked during high school (at the reunions it will be these people who will have the better jobs) and am happy to escape getting drenched washing the car myself. Since there’s a 30% chance of rain today—which we need—I will put off the carwash until tomorrow. After ten days at the coast it needs to get the salt washed off!

Lavender Journey

Last summer I journeyed to Oregon for the Oregon Lavender Festival and I’m packing to head south again! What can be more refreshing to the soul than spending time with one’s best friend and fields of lavender?

The Puget Sound Area is definitely different from northern Oregon. That state is our cousin to be sure, but it holds a charm that is a different facet of the jewel that is the Northwest. It’s a little warmer—sometimes a lot—and the hills are softer. Portland has bedroom communities to rival Bellevue and Kirkland, but go a little south and/or get off of I-5 and you are transported into a rural landscape dotted with little towns and villages, each with a unique character and charm so I’m happy to be packing my bag and getting my Neon, the Screaming Yellow Zonker, ready to hit the road.

A year ago I did not see the storm clouds of the recession on the horizon. My girlfriend and I were not extravagant with anything but gasoline, but this year we will be watching our pennies even more closely. Fortunately gasoline is cheaper this year! My friend is between jobs while my Care Provider money for taking care of my adult disabled daughter has been cut due to Washington State’s budget shortfall. The security of my husband’s job is a day to day issue. Right now he’s just happy to arrive at Seattle Flight Service and find it still open. So besides packing clothing and tooth paste, I’m loading up on the bounty of the season and we will be dining picnicking along the highways and byways of rural Oregon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Enough Already!

I am sorry that Michael Jackson died. I am sorry that he was troubled enough to bring rumors and speculation about his life and habits into the public realm. I’m sorry that his troubles may have resulted from the enslavement of his forbearers by some of mine, but enough already. I will be grateful when all of the memorials and funerals are over and hopefully Mr. Jackson is allowed to rest in peace.

Although Michael Jackson’s music undoubtedly was the soundtrack of many Gen-Xers childhoods he did not find a cure for cancer, end hunger or achieve world peace. He was not a saint, far from it. Why is the American public deifying this troubled man? I will be happy to be able to shop without the many faces—especially the creepy ones—of Michael Jackson lining the check-out counter.

To the Gen-Xers I would say, take a look at your grandparents if you are lucky enough to still have them. The Greatest Generation, a generation who saved the world, are rapidly passing into history and what they did to ensure your freedom and build a great nation was of far more value than any musical achievement Mr. Jackson attained. Sit down with Grandma and Grandpa and listen to their stories of separation and heroism, of sacrifice and hard work. Your children will be studying the achievements of the everyday men and women who were raised in the Depression and fought fascism and tyranny. Mr. Jackson won’t get a mention in a history textbook. That’s the view from my broom.