Wednesday, December 31, 2008


If you, like me, enjoy knitting, quilting, baking, and gardening then I suggest that you immediately go find a copy of this book!

Unfortunately, the photos of knitted items and quilts do not come with patterns although they do offer inspiration. There are many personal stories, but it is the photographs that make this book. I like both the coziness and the colors.

You can read more about the author here. Her blog is titled Yarnstorm

Saturday, December 20, 2008

John's Parents

I found this photo of John's parents on his camera. It was taken several years ago.

Skitty Sitting

Skitty the Pretty Kitty belongs to Owen and Sarah. We are Skitty sitting while they are on vacation. Skitty is a very well-behaved cat, although he tends to get mischievous at night. I can sometimes hear him trying to get into the bathroom cabinets and I often find one or two Christmas ornaments under the tree in the morning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful

And beautiful as well. This is the view I saw this morning when I sat at my desk. The bird feeder is in a snowball tree, apply named today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hunkering Down

The weather predictions are that the Arctic Express is on its way. If that's true it means we may have some harsh weather for a week or so. It begins with winds of 35-45 mph this afternoon, followed by snow tomorrow which will continue for a few days, perhaps a week, with temperatures in the low teens and snow and ice on the ground.

Too many people don't know how to drive in snow and ice which always means accidents and that means I'm planning on staying home as much as possible. It also means there's the very real possibility of losing electric power and those living in the country and/or small towns are usually last on the list to have it restored.

When I lived out in the country with small children, I always prepared well for these events. I made certain there was plenty of dry wood in the house as our only heat source was a wood stove. I cooked a variety of foods and got out extra quilts, wool sweaters, and socks.

I still get the urge to hunker down. I've made chili, a lasagna, chicken noodle soup, and cornbread. These can be easily heated on the barbecue. There's half an apple pie left and I'm making a couple of batches of cookies. I've made two pots of coffee and one of tea. There's plenty of milk, juice, fresh fruit, and bread as well as potable water and water for other uses. All the laundry is done. I've gotten out more quilts. I've charged up my cell phone and I-pod. I have projects ready that don't require electricity-- piecing jigsaw puzzles, knitting, hand-quilting, reading. And if all else fails, I can nap.

Okay. I'm ready.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Clear Skies

There hasn't been much rain so far this winter. I especially love the cold, clear nights.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November 11, 2008 Remembrance Day

Don't forget to wear your poppy tomorrow.

For The Fallen (fourth stanza)
by Lawrence Binyon, 1914

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Isn't It Wonderful Voting Is So Boring!

At some point in their lives, I brought each of my young sons with me when I voted. This was when we had polling booths in Oregon, before the advent of everyone voting by mail. One son, and I can't remember which one it was, told me when we were on our way home "That was boring, Mom."

My response was "Yes! And isn't it wonderful that it was boring!" He looked at me, confused, and I continued. "We drove five miles to our polling place and arrived here without any problems. In some countries, people would have had to walk half the day or more. No one stood outside the polling place to intimidate us. No one had guns. No one told me I had to vote a certain way or he would hurt or kill us or your Dad would lose his job. I had privacy when I voted and I put my ballot into a locked box. I know it will arrive at the county courthouse safely. The poll worker checked to make certain that I was eligible to vote and later someone will check my signature to make certain it was I who voted and that I only voted once. My vote is secret; I don't have to tell anyone how I voted. I was able to vote freely and easily and I know my vote will be counted. Voting is boring. And oh, we are so very, very lucky that it is."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday Shopping Trip

John and I did our usual Saturday shopping yesterday. We went to Albany and bought groceries, went to the thrift bread store where I snagged English muffins, bread sticks, and a loaf of raisin bread along with loaves of our everyday bread, and filled the SUV with gas which has gone down in price to $2.13 a gallon. Then we headed for Corvallis, driving by the river, a beautiful drive.

We stopped by the Folk Club where I found a small, decorated star shaped box for my collection and then, as it was still cloudy, but not windy or showery, we went to the Farmer's Market. There weren't many people, only a few dogs, and the babies were all snuggled up in their strollers. Musicians, one a lone violinist and the other a group of three men playing instruments and singing folk tunes, at each end of the market. There were mushrooms, kale, pumpkins and squashes for sale. There was also jars of honey, cauliflower in shades of yellow and purple as well as white, peppers in red, green, yellow, and variegated. I bought a bunch of lovely dahlias. We spent some time at the library, picking out books, CDs, and DVDs and then headed home. It was a lovely, quiet day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Words and Lists

I am a list maker. I make lists of my lists. I have a list of 100 things I want to do before I die and when I cross something off I add something else; I hope to die in my 90s and still have a list of 100 things. I have a list of quilts I want to make and even if quilted 24/7 for the rest of my life, I wouldn't make them all. I have lists of books I want to read, places I want to go, things I want to see.

My most common list, however, is my to-do list. Every morning I write down the things I want to do that day. I usually get most of them done. Sometimes I get none of them done. I seldom get them all done.

I use the procrastination buster of telling myself I'm just going to do something for fifteen minutes and then quit and that often jump-starts me. Still, sometimes there are things, simple things, on my list that just migrate to the next day's list and then the next day's list after that. One is "clean desk".

I think I know what the problem is. It's that word "clean". I was a
stay-at-home-Mom for almost thirty years and I did a lot of cleaning. Boy's dirty little faces, counter-tops, floors, sinks, clothes, dishes. It never ended. I know there are some people who get satisfaction from getting something clean. I'm not one of them. I know it's just going to have to be done again. And again. And again. I have an aversion to the word "cleaning". It means work. It means endless. And I'm just tired of it.

What I'm going to do is change the word "clean" to "tidy". I like tidy. It sounds more like a word a librarian would use. So excuse me now. I'm going to go tidy my desk.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Trip to the Coast

John and I went to Newport on Thursday for our annual trip to the Oregon Coast. We visited the harbor and had lunch in Newport and then traveled up the highway through Depoe Bay and Lincoln City. It's been a long time since we'd been in that direction as we usually go to Florence. I remember Depoe Bay from trips we made when I was growing up. There are a few storefronts which look the same, but most of it has changed. There was a lot of traffic for a week-day in September. The weather was just perfect; sunny and 75 degrees and just a little wind. John and I stopped at several viewpoints to take photographs and we also walked hand-in-hand on the beach. It was a lovely day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August Heat

I like reading the police reports in the local newspaper because I so often find strange things there. The heat we've been having the past few days seems to really have caused some people to go crazy. How else can one explain, for example, the recent report "subject is throwing raw hamburger at passing cars"?

Raymond Chandler's short story Red Wind contains this passage

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband’s necks. Anything can happen.

I bet he wrote that on a hot day in August.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blackberry Season

Nobody needs to pity the farmwife, however scratched and bedraggled she may look, coming out of the blackberry patch. She has got something more than blackberries from the time out there. There is no better place than the blackberry patch for that hour of solitude every farm woman craves now and then.
From Rural Free: A Farmwife's Alamanc of Country Living ~ Rachel Peden

This is probably one of the reasons why August is one of my favorite times of the year, despite the heat. There are times and places when I have an excuse to be outside, by myself, to think my own thoughts and dream my own dreams. Those are rare and special moments, even for women of a certain age who live in small towns.

Traveling to Work

I work about 20 miles away in a university town. The road I take to go to work follows the Willamette River which means it curves a lot but then, that makes it fun to drive even if one is not driving a little red sports car with a stick shift.

I go by Mennonite farms with their neat gardens, clotheslines, orchards, houses with wide front porches, a blueberry farm with row after row of bushes loaded with berries, and then through a little unincorporated town with its old church and its notorious speed trap. Yes, I remember to slow down.

I see flashes of the river as I drive and hawks hovering above grass seed fields on my right hunting for rodents and snakes and, on my left, others soaring over the river, looking for fish. The boat landing is often crowded with cars and yet I seldom see even a single boat on the river. If I'm lucky I'll see a blue heron or two standing in the fields.

And even better, it is exactly the same when I drive back home.


I have a big bouquet of sunflowers on my dining room table.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Really Summer

August has the smells and tastes that mean summer's finally here--sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupe, peppers, and cucumbers from the garden, blackberries, peaches and at the end of the month, apples and pears. There is so much it seems never ending. It makes me feel rich. It's the smell of the last of the raspberries coming to a rolling boil for jam at the beginning of the month and the pungent vinegar of bubbling kettles of bread and butter pickles ready to be canned at the end. It's walking by rose bushes lush with flowers with scents so sweet they can make me swoon.

Later in the month comes the county fair and then, at the end of the month, the state fair. There will be animal barns filled with cows lowing and chickens clucking. I love to look at the poultry, the sheep and goats, and the rabbits best. On the midway, there's the music from the merry go round, the happy sounds of those on the rides, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn. I enjoy the flower arrangements,
the baking (oh, those fancy decorated cakes!), and the quilts! I never miss the quilts!

The weather will be beautiful day after day with only a few days here and there that are a little cloudy or have some showers and some that seem too hot, but it will be so lovely for so long it can lull me into thinking it'll last forever.

Oh, there are a few clues summer is ending-- ads for sales for school clothes and supplies, but school won't actually start until after Labor Day so there's time yet. And one thing I've noticed about Oregon--we're always one month behind weather-wise. It's still cool and rainy in June and September is almost always warm and clear and the trees don't even think about changing color until mid-October. So enjoy summer while it's really here. It won't last long!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Post-It For Annotations

I use post-it notes for many things and one use I especially like is using it for is annotating library books. I often find sentences or pieces of sentences or even an entire paragraph I want to remember, but I don't want to jump up each time and type it into a Word document. Instead I place a small stack of Post-It notes on the inside front cover of the book and when I come across a great quote I just put one right where the quote begins. It doesn't slow up my reading. If I have a pencil handy I might add a few words about why I like it. When I'm done reading the book it's easy enough to transfer the quotes.

I do this for fiction as well as non-fiction, for books of projects and poetry books too.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Me and Dad (1922-2005)
Summer, 1950
Minnow Lake, Ontario, Canada

Happy Father's Day, John!

Jack Edward

Owen Charles

Gavin Arthur

Hugh Griffith

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pop or Soda

It's finally starting to feel like summer although the highs are still only in the upper 60s. I came across this website which has a map keeping track of whether you call a soft drink pop or soda. I guess nobody calls it a soft drink; that must be under "other". Me? I prefer Diet Coke or sweetened iced tea.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mobile Phone Use While Pregnant May 'Seriously Damage Baby,' Study Says

The post title is from this piece from FoxNews and if that is truly the conclusion of the study, then I have some questions. Of course, the article's title may not accurately reflect the conclusions of the study. Journalists always tend to simplify things and seem too many times to get it all wrong. They want sensationalism. Subtle analysis is just not a forte of modern journalism.

The article states

Pregnant women who regularly use mobile phones are more likely to have children with behavioral problems, according to a study by a UCLA researcher who had previously had previously written there was no proof of "any adverse health effect."

Mothers who used their mobile phone while pregnant were 54 percent more likely to report issues such as hyperactivity and emotional problems in their children, Britain's Daily Mail and The Independent reported Monday.

One question is which came first, the behavior or the cell phone usage? Is the mother on her cell phone talking to her therapist, friends, and relatives about her youngster's behavioral problems? Or are the child's behavioral problems caused by a mother who's always talking on her cell phone and ignoring her child? Or maybe mothers who use cell phones are more likely to view their children as being hyperactive and having emotional problems (there doesn't seem to have been any outside evaluation of whether or not that is true) because those darn kids just won't behave while she's trying to chat on the phone.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The First Laser

Google was celebrating the anniversary of the first working laser in 1960 with a laser logo on their home page. I first saw a laser in 1966 when a high senior in my class brought one in with a professor from the University of Oregon physics department for a demonstration. I was entranced. I had no idea what it might be used for, but it was indeed beautiful. I don't remember that student's name although I remember he was admitted to MIT. I wonder if he did anything more with lasers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

August, 1981

Me and John with Jack (1 month old)

Happy Mother's Day

Me and Mom (1922-2004)

Saturday, May 3, 2008


The second story bedroom in the house I grew up in had lilac bushes under the windows and on warm spring nights I'd open the windows and fall asleep to their scent. I've loved lilacs ever since.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Plague of Doves

I am waiting for the publication of Louise Erdrich's new novel, The Plague of Doves. I found a short story she'd written for The New Yorker by the same title. It's available online, here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This is Gavin and Jessica's dog, Jake. Isn't he cute? I smile every time I look at him.


Novelist William Vollman wrote that "the most important and enjoyable thing in life is doing something that's a complicated, tricky problem for you that you don't know how to solve."

Life is a vast and intricate conspiracy designed to keep us well supplied with blessings: interesting surprises, unexpected challenges, gifts we hardly know what to do with, conundrums that force us to get smarter.

I have many blessings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Red Winged Blackbirds

It must be spring. The red-winged blackbirds are back.

My List

I have a list of 100 things I want to do before I die. The list always stays at 100 because when I do manage to do one of the things on the list I add another.

I've been admiring the small green shoots of leaves on the trees as I walk from the parking lot to the library and thinking about one of those things on the list. I want to learn how to sketch so that I can capture one of the small branches with the green at the tips. A thin green watercolor would work well for the tiny, unfurling leaves, I think.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Nice to Be Home!

I had class in Portland this week-end and came home to find this on the whiteboard in the garage when I opened the garage door.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Joyous Easter!

Los Angeles, California
Easter 1955

Monday, March 17, 2008

Portland Anti-War Protest

While my Archives class was examining and reporting on archival collections at the Oregon Historical Society (see blog post in Adventures in Library School),an anti-war protest was going on right across the street in the Park blocks.
Here's an article about it from the Oregonian. I took these photos when we had our lunch break.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

For My Fellow Bird Lovers

I love birds, especially the little woodland ones. If you love birds too, you may be interested in this, from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The naturalist John James Audubon attempted, in the 19th century, to paint every species of North American bird. He got through 435 of them before running out of time and money. Now the University of Pittsburgh Library System, with a little more time and money, has digitized all 435 of the images and mounted them online.

Only 120 sets of the large, hand-colored works — acknowledged as masterpieces of ornithology — are known to exist. Pitt’s Digital Research Library used a high-resolution scanner to create the digital set for the Web, along with reprints from Audubon’s Ornithological Biography, his five-volume text describing each of the birds.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Life in the Clouds

This article, When Life Goes Cloudy by evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson, discusses the idea of microbes--bacteria, algae, fungi, and other tiny organisms--living in clouds. The paper in Geophysical Research Letters which she is basing this post on went further, claiming that not only do microbes travel via clouds, but that some of them actually live there - growing, metabolizing, reproducing - until plummeting back to earth when the cloud rains. Some scientists don't believe clouds are stable enough to sustain life, but the idea that the apparently lifeless clouds over our heads contain fully functional complex microbial ecosystems is an intriguing one.

Life finds a way.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy St. David's Day!

The daffodils are not quite in full bloom and the weather today was rain, wind, and hail, which is not very spring-like, but we did have the traditional leek soup and then lemon cake and tea for dessert. It is traditional to wear either a daffodil or a small leek in your lapel today, although I did neither.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Advice to Myself

by Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Daffodil Shoots

The daffodils are coming! The small, green shoots have poked up out of the ground and it looks like they'll be blooming just in time for Saint David's Day on March 1st. On that day, we'll have leek soup and roast chicken and lemon cake to celebrate and I'll put vases full of daffodils around the house. It won't quite be Spring, but it's a reminder that it'll soon be here.

When I see daffodils, I remember the lovely autumn day John and I put sacks full of daffodil bulbs in the little cart he'd made for his tractor and we sat baby Jack there too, on a blanket, and went down our long gravel driveway, planting hundreds of daffodils along both sides. What a sight that was when they bloomed in the Spring!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

February's Almost Here!

February is one of my favorite months. For one thing it has Valentine's Day which doesn't require all of the rushed activities involved in the holidays from just a few months past. I can bake and decorate a few cupcakes or "fairy cakes" as I've seen them called in some British blogs. I can read romantic valentines. I can enjoy pink, important to me as someone who raised four sons. The tulips and daffodils are getting ready to bloom. And best of all, it's a short month and I know winter will soon be over and we'll have our glorious spring weather once again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
~ Robert Frost

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby, It's Gonna Be Really, Really Cold Outside!

Well, that's the prediction anyway although right now it's 43 degrees which isn't bad. And they're saying it'll be really, really cold for this part of the country which doesn't mean 40 degrees below, but temperatures in the mid-teens range and that it'll last about a week. Still, it's nothing to ignore and it's always prudent to make preparations.

We lived out in the country in an uninsulated, 150-year old house with only a wood stove as a heat source for 20 years so this is something I have experience with. The cars are gassed up, the anti-freeze and windshield fluids checked, and there are basic provisions including dried food, water, a good flashlight, extra gloves and hats and clothing plus a quilt and basic tools in each of them although both vehicles are pretty new and are well maintained. The one John will be driving to work early Monday morning will be garaged.

Our cell phones are fully charged. I'm making sure I'm caught up with the laundry. There's gas for the generator. All the flashlights have good batteries. There's plenty of propane for the portable heaters. There's wood for the fireplace. I've put a half dozen quilts in the bedroom in case we lose the electric at night.

We went shopping last night and made sure we had all the basic food staples--bread, milk, eggs, coffee, tea. I'm roasting a chicken for tonight's dinner and I can use the leftovers to make a chicken pot pie and then chicken noodle soup. I've got bread dough in the freezer, the ingredients to make a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread, and there's still half a peach pie.

I don't have to worry about losing the water as we're on city water, not a well, but I have some potable water anyway. The vents were blocked at the beginning of winter and the outside pipes are insulated.

And I haven't forgotten my little song birds either. Their feeder has been filled with bird seeds. I have lots of books, my I-pod is charged up, and there's baskets of yarn to knit.

Bring it on! We're ready!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A.A. Milne (January 18, 1882 – January 31, 1956)

Today is the birthday of A.A.Milne, the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Now mind, he wasn't very happy at being remembered mainly for that as he thought of himself as a serious writer. In fact, he was quite bitter about it. And I could rant a bit about how the Disney Corporation ruined the books and made rather quite a mess of them, but then it was Milne's widow who sold them all the rights. The family later sued, a suit that went to the Supreme Court in 2006, but lost. I digress.

Today is A. A. Milne's birthday. When my sons were very small we would celebrate that day with a "Pooh Party". We'd make cookies which had honey as part of their ingredients and then eat them while I read one of the Pooh books. The stuffed Poohs were, of course, the guests of honor.

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the Winnie-the-Pooh books:

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

Some people care too much, I think it's called love.

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"

A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

I used to believe in forever . . . but forever was too good to be true.

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just a Bit Distracted

I'm supposed to be working on an assignment for my Archives class which involves the Library of Congress website but I've became distracted. Just a little bit.

Here are some children's books from the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room.

My favorite (so far) is Ballad of the Lost Hare/ By Margaret Sidney [pseud.]. Boston: D. Lothrop, c1882.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year Resolutions

Each New Year resolution is a small gift wrapped in shiny paper that we give ourselves and I want to chose mine carefully. My resolutions aren't always practical or concrete or measurable. They're certainly not easy.

1. Nurture serenity.
It doesn't mean to hide out from life and avoid problems but to deal with them as they come. It doesn't mean being arrogant or cold or unseeing or not being empathic, but exactly the opposite. It means being brave and patient and showing kindness.

2. Simplify.
After spending time at my in-laws house, a house crammed full of stuff everywhere you turn, where it's impossible to focus on anything because there is just too much, my resolution includes getting rid of things that I don't need, don't want, or will never use. There are some things I will keep for sentimental reasons, others because they're practical, but I will begin looking at the things in my house with a far more critical eye. I do not want to be in my eighties and spending most of the little time I have left on this earth taking care of inanimate objects while also trying to figure out how to get rid of them.
I also want to simplify my inner life. I have a tendency to make everything much too complex. I examine things too closely, try to determine all the possibilities beforehand and spend inordinate amounts of time making decisions about things which really aren't all that important. I do that partly because I dislike unpleasant surprises, have a tendency to be a perfectionist, and want to feel in control. I need to learn to let things go.

3. Pray
I pray in bits and pieces throughout my day. I don't use long and formal prayers except when I say the rosary, which I try to do daily. I pray when I'm driving, when I fold laundry, when I cut carrots for stew, and roll out pie dough. I pray when I sweep the kitchen and water flowers and hear the little birds singing.
I make prayer a natural part of my everyday life.

4. Expect Joy
Sometimes I miss the little pieces of joy that are all around me because I am just not paying attention.

5. Accept Grace
Accepting grace is far more difficult than it seems. Ann Lamott wrote: "(Grace) is unearned and gratuitous love; the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you; grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there."