Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When the chime of the anniversary clock let me know it was eleven, I began the nightly routine of shutting down the computer, locking the doors and turning out the lights. Finished with my personal bedtime preparations, I turned out the last light and moved to the bedroom window facing the house directly across our quiet suburban street. I put the blind up far enough to see out and stood still to watch the barely lit landscape.
A black cat strolled up the driveway I was perusing, not sensing any danger to it's unwelcome exploration of that yard. I knew the arrogant cat, I'd run it off the fence closest to my bird feeder countless times. At least it probably wouldn't be hunting birds in the middle of the night.
The next nighttime visitor was a stranger surprise. A fawn, past the spotted stage but not grown was making her way around the corner from the usually busy cross street. She seemed hesitant on the asphalt and stopped, tense when a car went by on the street behind her. I watched in amazement as she turned and went into the shadows behind the neighbors tree. I couldn't think of where she had come from. A very developed suburb built on farm land during the seventies left few places for deer.
Looking up again, I saw the signal I'd been waiting for. The drapes in the unlighted house across the street had opened slightly. I knew the tiny, frail and very elderly woman who lives there was seeing the empty street and my raised blind. Her husband was now in a care center and she was alone in the large house, often afraid. Since the day she'd told me she found comfort in a late night survey of the outside world, I've made the effort to let her know she has a sister across that road. When we see each other during the daytime hours, in the yards or at the mailbox, we might chat a little but we never mention the late night silent connection. Its a confidence we don't talk about but she doesn't mention being so afraid anymore.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Tired of my own questions about the life of the two and sometimes three crows who patrol my front yard, I took the advice of a friendly bookstore owner and began looking for information. I didn't find the book she suggested but I did find "In The Company of Crows and Ravens" by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. There was a lot more to know than I imagined. This well researched and well written book opened my eyes to the relationship between humans and the crow, or corvid, family. Fascinating.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Special Project

Oregon is celebrating it's sesquicentennial (150th) birthday next year. To help with that celebration, the Readers Theater Group I belong to is putting together a program, "Voices of Oregon Women." We are using excerpts of manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project during 1936-1940. Almost half way between Oregon's birth date and the present.

Not the stories of the pioneers who came from the east in ox team wagons. These are snippets of life stories told by their descendants and those who followed. They tell of the difficulties and pleasures of the lives they forged in the northwest.

None of the sections we're doing are very long, we want to do ten or so. The hardest part is deciding which fragments we can leave out:struggles with the hoop skirts, the unbroken horses to pull the stage, sixteen children in a two room log cabin, compensation for a teacher-all interesting.

The stories are told by descendants of families who came from different parts of the country in a time before we were all hearing a standardized language. Radio wasn't available in all places during the 1930's. There are expressions and speech patterns I'd never heard. I've had to go looking for the meanings of a few. "A knitter of the first water," was easy to understand even if I'd never heard it used. I had more trouble with hoodlumish "plug uglies."

These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers Project for the WPA. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24states. Oregon is one of the states with access available on the Internet. They are fascinating stories.

For those interested in reading the stories, the Internet address for the home page is http:rs6.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/wpahome.html

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"ANNE MARIE'S NEW MELODY," my latest novel has been released. It is the last in the series of three northwest women and the retirement choices they make that change their lives. Anne Marie is the musician, gourmet cook and a woman of the senses. Nothing in her life has prepared her to assume the role of mother for two neglected children but neither can she just walk away. Her emotions are battered as she struggles with her decision but the ending to her story works out exactly the way she want it to.

"ANNE MARIE'S NEW MELODY" is available through some independent bookstores, through www.bbotw.com or other on line sources.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


It was only a little past noon on Thursday when Kathleen's phone rang. "Hello?"

"Hello, Kathleen, this is Riley again. I'm just ready to head home so I thought I'd call before I get engrossed with child activities."

"You're finished teaching for the day?"

"I am." He paused, "So-how about that coffee date? I think we have enough in common to build friendship."

"We don't even know each other. How could you know what we have in common?"

She could hear his smile as he answered, "We both like dogs-that's a start. And we both like being outdoors, even in the rain."

He went on, "Let's see then, we both have careers and we're close to the same age-adult."

She said, "I'm listening but I'm not convinced."

He went on, "We both like children. You admitted you did. And you're attractive when you aren't crying over you know who. Your smile is great, I'd like to see it a lot more often."

She smiled then, she couldn't help it. "Are you through?"

"Not yet. We both like coffee but not sweet."

"That's it?"

"This is my clincher. I have children and you want some, but you have to learn to like me first. Oh yes, the other part of that, I have the superior genes common in redheads to pass on to future children. Now are you clenched?"

Stunned, Kathleen was almost angry but he'd sounded very insecure in spite of the bravado of the words. A laugh escaped, she couldn't help it. "I'm not clenched. Not even close, but I'm listening. I'd say your case is pretty flimsy so far. Any how, the point about the children is a tough one for me. I admit I like children, even that I'd like some but I don't want to learn to love a child again and then have them shut out of my life. It hurts too bad. I also wouldn't want to get interested in a man who just wanted child care."

She drew in a deep breath, "Besides that, I don't get involved easily, or often, so I'm not ready to think about a relationship right now." She paused, "I could use an occasional friendly cup of coffee and some conversation, if that's an option."

"It is an option. I can tell you aren't ready for anything else now so I think that's a pretty good deal. Say coffee tomorrow, at Starbucks on 18Th."

"I could do that. What time?"

"I have an early class and no office hours, about ten thirty. I don't pick up the kids from pre-school until noon."

"All right. I'll combine it with a trip for office supplies and see you then. Goodbye now."

"Goodbye. See you tomorrow. Oh, and Kathleen, I did hear what you said about the children. I'll be very careful to see neither of those things happen."

Kathleen put the phone down and stood staring out her back window. No rain today, no rainbows either but still an improvement. This was the perfect time to clean up the garden. Get it ready for a new planting in the spring. She located a jacket and gloves and then headed outside to begin pulling the withered plants, determined that next year's garden would be even better. The end.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


She'd completed two stops and was just going for groceries when it suddenly occurred to her, she hadn't thought about Steve once since she left the park. She'd been too busy fuming about that jerk. Where did he get his crazy ideas? What nerve.

By the next Saturday she'd passed the sidewalk chalk on and hadn't cried all week. She still ached whenever something reminded her of Steve or Ashley but every day she had more time when she didn't think about them. She did think about Charley's owner a time or two. He was amusing even if he did irritate her. He was kind of good looking too. Well, she'd put him and his kids out of her mind for good. She didn't have extra energy to waste thinking about him. She avoided the dog park entirely and took Emma to Joyce's rural home north of town. They both enjoyed the time with Joyce. While she was driving home, Kathleen wondered casually if Charley had been at the dog park.

On Monday, the phone rang mid morning. "Hello?"

"Kathleen, please don't hang up. Let me talk a minute. This is Riley Barrows, Jamey and Kelly's father and foster parent to Chrley."

"How did you find me? I can't believe this. You didnt even know my name."

"Before I tell you, I need to tell you that I can give you reference. I'm not a stalker, not dangerous. I'm just an ordinary guy, a teacher from the Community College. A little nicer than some but just ordinary."

"So! How did you find me?"

"This morning, when I wanted to find you and couldn't think how, I remembered the article in the paper about the Department of Motor Vehicles on the Internet. I thought about it awhile and finally connected on your licesnse plate number. Does that upset you?"

"Yes it does. It make me feel spied on. I don't like it at all."

"Kathleen, I'm sorry I looked for you. I was worried that you stayed away from the dog park because of me. I didn't want to lose contact with you. "I'll hang up now if you don't want to talk to me."

"Riley, you said your name was. It fits you somehow. Part of the reason I skipped the dog park was because of you. You seem to rub me the wrong way. "

"Ha! What I really do is distract you from moping about what's his name. Admit it, I do distract you, don't I?"

Kathleen thought about his question before she answered, "Yes, you do. I admit it. But I'm not sure the anger you cause is any better for me."

"Seriously Kathleen, I don't want you to disappear. I hope we can get together for a cup of coffee sometime, get a little better acquainted. At least share the dog park."

"I'm on a deadline right now and don't have time to think about this. You might call later in the week and I'll consider the dog park."

"I will. There might not even be rain."

Kathleen said goodbye and ended the call. She probably wouldn't go. She might have something better to do.

Monday, September 29, 2008


His frank response let her blink away the tears. "Well, you brought coffee so I do thank you. I suppose you could have brought sunshine. That might help more." She was able to produce a smile, wobbly but an attempt.

He looked up over the field. "Charley and Emma seem to do well together, don't they?"

Kathleen wasn't quite ready to leave her pain. There was another part she hadn't shared and she needed to get it said, out in the open. "The worst thing about getting left, dumped, isn't just missing him. It means I can't see his little girl anymore. I love Ashley. I thought we were building a strong family. Now she's just gone, out of my life for good. I can hardly stand that."

Maybe Ashley was more important than her father. I mean, you aren't a kid that can have a big flock of children. You might have been thinking of her as a way to have a head start on a family."

Angry, Kathleen found herself speechless.

He looked at her face, "I didn't say that very well did I? I'd hate to have my kids be more important to my woman than I was. That's all I meant. I don't even know if that was true, I was just talking."

"Well, it wasn't true. We'd dated two or three times before I even knew he had a daughter. I went out with him because I liked him."

"Liked him better than anyone else? Or was it the daughter that narrowed the field?"

"You don't even know what you're talking about."

"I know. I'm just letting you know that you can't have me for my kits."

"What? I can't believe you said that. I don't want you, kids or no kids. Who do you think you are anyhow?"

"Hold your horses. I'm just trying to be funny, cheer you up a little. Besides, I'm not such a bad proposition. That is, for someone who doesn't mind being confined by young children."

"Well you aren't funny. You're making me mad."

He laughed at her sputtering, "Better than crying, isn't it?

She didn't bother to give him an answer he didn't deserve, she called Emma and started to the car. Emma, seeing Kathleen headed out the gate, came running. As Kathleen backed the car out and pulled toward the drieway, he stood watching with Charley sitting at his feet. He gave a last minute wave but she didn't respond.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I'm out and about a lot on my job. Where do you work? Maybe I could arrange a coffee delivery on Monday."

Kathleen thought about how miserable she felt and how irritating he'd been, "Don't bother, really. I have an office at home so I take care of my own coffee."

"Have it your way lady. I'd like to make amends but it sounds like you'd rather stew. Sorry I offended you."

Kathleen knew he hadn't meant his last comment but she backed her car out to leave the parking lot as he was obviously fastening children in car seats. She knew she'd been barely courteous, she just didn't feel like making the extra effort to be nice to anyone right now. She wanted to punish somebody, better him than Emma.

Besides, he was another redhead. He was better looking than Steve, probably just as unfeeling, or maybe more so. She did wonder, for a second or two, what he was so unhappy about but shut that thought out of her mind.

The next Saturday, Kathleen decided to go back to the dog park. Her coworkers had been nice. Too nice really, whenever she talked to them or ran into the main office to pick up or deliver another project. She'd passed on the word of her big breakup with Steve to Joyce, her best friend, and left it to her to spread the word. Joyce had obviously covered all the bases because the people who knew her well enough expressed sympathy. Those who didn't were careful not to mention her personal life at all. That worked well, she didn't cry in public all week, only to her mother on the phone. One more week down, she would get through another Saturday. It wasn't even raining, just cloudy and grey.

She got an earlier start but repeated the drive of the week before. When she arrived at the park, there were a couple of cars parked but none she remembered from the week before. She let Emma out of the car and the dog bounded off, recognizing the freedom immediately. Kathleen made her way to the benches and sat o watch Emma explore. Suddenly there was a streak across the field and Emma was joined by a Basset. Before Kathleen turned to look fo Charley's owner, he appeared beside the bench carrying two coffee cups. He handed one to Kathleen with a smile. "I hope you like a Latte. These are very good."

Surprised, Kathleen accepted the cup, "Thank you. I do like a Latte if it isn't too sweet."

"I don't like mine sweet either. I had these done with no extra flavor although chocolate-brandy is very good. I treat myself to one every once in awhile."

"Where are the kids this morning? They are yours aren't they?"

"Oh yes, the twins are mine. My mother's in town this weekend. She comes in every couple of weeks. She says it's to get her fix of grandchildren time. I think it's more to save my sanity."
Taking a sip, he went on, "I knew I was probably too old when I finally decided I wanted to be a father but I was afraid I was going to miss something important in my life. I was right about that much anyhow. I needed that pair. I just chose the wrong person to make me a father. She was a bright young thing who loved the idea for about the five minutes it took to do the deed. She even liked the attention she got when she was pregnant and about the first six weeks of motherhood. After that she saw a brighter future beckoning that didn't include raising twins. She left when they were babies, almost three years ago."

"It seems like you should be used to handling the situation by now."

He snorted, almost choking on his coffee. "A lot you know. The twins are not gentle, well behaved little dolls. They don't handle easily. They're live wire, curious, active, fearless imps. There's nothing routine about living with them."

"I could tell you were pretty upset the other morning. What had they done so bad?"

"It wasn't exactly them that morning. I was a little edgy. Not that the sword business wasn't irritating, it was. I over-reacted. " He gave Kathleen a look that she'd have labeled sheepish in any language, "I'd been dating a very attractive, interesting woman and she dumped me. U couldn't find a baby sitter for Saturday night so I couldn't take her to the concert she'd planned on. She said she was past the age where she wanted to be confined with young children, even once in awhile so I should find someone else. Maybe one of my eager young students."

He shook his head, "I'm not interested in taking that route again. I was ready to settle down, create a family. I just chose a partner in the wrong age group. She didn't have enough experience to know what she wanted."

Kathleen listened without comment and watched Emma and Charley chasing. Emma seemed to hold her own with Charley.

"So how about you? Do you have children? A husband? What?"

Kathleen found her eyes swimming without warning. "No. No children. No husband. Not even a what right now. I pretty much go dumped myself and I'm having trouble dealing with it."

They sat silent for awhile. He finally mommented, "I guess I should say I'm sorry. I am sorry you got hurt. I don't think I was as involved this time. I was more mad than hurt. I don't suppose my being sorry makes it any better but I don't know anything else to say."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Rainbows cont.

Kathleen looked around and spotted a couple of benches part way down the field so headed down the gravel path toward them. A pair of children came through some bushes at the edge of the path, a little girl running and shrieking with a boy about the same size chasing her with what looked to be a sword.

Kathleen expected the little girl to veer when she got close and wasn't braced to have the small body bump into her. She sat hard with the little girl sprawled on top. The boy barely got himself stopped without adding to the pile.

She stood the little girl up as soon as the boy shifted and then got up herself. Kathleen realized the back of her legs, her sea, and her jacket were soaked. Feeling the tears ready to start again, she bit her lip and looked around to see where Emma had disappeared. Coming through the bushes now was a Basset followed by an upset looking male, just about to be greeted by a bounding, happy Emma.

The Basset responded to Emma's joy by running to chase her but the man kept coming toward Kathleen. "Kelly ran into the rain lady," the boy announced.

The man ran unsympathetic eyes over Kathleen, taking in the wet clothes. "Looks like you should have moved."

Matching the unfriendly tone, Kathleen replied, "I would have if I'd realized she was too busy looking behind to see me. She seemed worried about the sword coming after her."

"Jamey, were you chasing Kelly with the sword?"

Jamey looked at the ground without answering.

"OK. I warned you. Give me the sword."

"Daddy, please. I won't chase her with it anymore. I promise."

"We had this same talk twice this morning already. Two times you promised and then you forgot. I have to take it this time."

"Can I have it back tomorrow?"

"No. It has to go in the trash can. You just aren't old enough to handle it."

Jamey started to cry and Kathleen turned to move away, but Emma, with the Basset in hot pursuit, charged into the group. This time it was an upset father that got sat down in the pooling water. Getting up, he glared at Kathleen, "Can't you control your dog, lady?"

"As well as you can control your children, or your dog!"

"Well, I sure don't need some damn woman telling me how to do either one."

That was too much for Kathleen, she burst into angry tears and was forming the words to tell him just what she thought but swallowed them when she saw Kelly's face.

Kelly looked at Kathleen and then at her angry father and began wailing.

"Oh hell! Lady, I'm sorry I snapped at you. My morning has been lousy."

"Daddy, you told me not to say that, never." Jamey exclaimed, "Daddy said a bad word--bad word--bad word."

"OK, Jamey, that's enough. Kelly you stop crying now." He gave Kathleen a hopeless look.

"Please lady, would you stop too. I can't handle this. What's wrong with you anyhow?"

Kathleen drew in a breath, clenching her fists. "The only thing wrong with me Mister, is you. Your daughter knocked my down and my clothes got soaked. I haven't heard one squeak of apology from you and I have to go clear across town to change before I can finish my errands. Then you stand there and yell at me because your dog is chasing mine." She leaned a little closer and spoke more slowly, "Well, I certainly don't have to put up with any sniveling man yelling at me and I don't intend to. If you'll just control your dog long enough for me to get mine, I'll get out of here and you and your poor children can have the park to yourself."

Kathleen looked down at Kelly and realized the little girl was staring at her with wide-eyed fear. She bit back the rest of what she'd have liked to say to the father and spoke gently to the little girl, "Kelly, I'm sorry we feel down. I hope you didn't get hurt."

Kelly's father looked at her too, "Babe, it's all right. Nothing bad is going to happen. I'll get Charley now. OK?"

Kelly nodded.

He called Charley, and after another swooping run at Emma, the dog came. Holding Charley's collar, the man looked up at Kathleen, "It's up to you now. If you want to go, get your dog."
Kathleen called Emma and started to the car with her.

The man called after her, "My poor children aren't suffering. You can forget that line of attack, it doesn't fly."

Ignoring his comments, she went through the gate into the parking lot. She had Emma in the car and was ready to get in herself when he came into the parking lot with Charley and both children.

He put Charley in the back of a van and then turned around to call to her. "I am sorry. I shouldn't have given you a bad time. I don't seem to be coping well right now."

Kathleen shut her car door and, after wrestling with her own sense of right for a minute or two, rolled down her window. With a rigid jaw that just wouldn't allow a smile, Kathleen called back, "I'm sorry too. I should have handled myself better, controlled the anger." That was as close as she could come to an apology, it would have to do.

"If I weren't so wet and miserable, I'd suggest buying you a coffee and we could commiserate with each other."

"If I weren't so wet and cold, I'd take you up on that." To herself Kathleen added, "when hell freezes over."

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Kathleen gazed out the big window through the steady rain. She could hardly see the bedraggled we garden. Just as well. She let the tears coursing down her face fall unheeded. It would be in about the same shape as she felt, neglected and unwanted. She'd been the one who wanted the garden but Steve had been eager o help her, he loved gardening.
Together they'd picked the seeds and tiny plants, together they'd tended the little plot and together they'd eaten most the produce. Now it was almost frost time and, without warning, Steve was gone. Moved on to someone else.
How could she have been so stupid? It wasn't like she was seventten. She was an educated, intelligent woman, with a successful career. She'd had her share of romances that made her stomach quiver, her pulses race, and her heart pound, but never one where she was so totally involved.
She'd committed her all to this relationship, convinced he cared as much. A year, more than a year,they'd been a twosome. Ofen a threesome when he had Ashley for a visiation weekend and then, suddenly it was over. The thoughts of Ashley caused a new flood of tears. How she missed that little girl. She ached to see her again, hold her, tell her bedtime stories.
She just wouldn't let herself stand at this window weeping all day. The tears weren't going to help. It was up to her to control them, to help herself. There was plenty to do on a Saturday, even if it was raining. She had errands to run, a dog to exercise, even friends she could see. Scolding herself for lapsing into self pity, she moved to get a new start on the day. A long shower with her favorite shower gel, a cold pack on her swollen eyes, and some makeup all helped.
She looked better, almost normal. She even felt better. Next the jeans that showed off her trim build, and a bulky sweathirt. She brushed the super short dark hair off her face and tried to decide where to take her golden lab, for exercise.
She didn't want to go on the usual bike trail, Steve would probably be running there. Maybe the new dog park on the far side of town. She'd seen an article in the paper, she could go take a
look. Emma would love to visit with other dogs if there were any on such a rainy day. She put on her rubber boots and hooded rain jacket, it would be good for both of them to go someplace new.
Leaving the house through the front door to pick up he umbrella from the porch, she almost lost her composure at the sight of the bucket filled with sidewalk chalk sitting there. She'd take it to work with her one of these days and give it to some coworker with children. As soon as she could pick it up without shedding tears. Grabbing the umbrella, she went around the corner of the house to let Emma out of her run.
Emma's joy did a lot to cheer her. Opening the back car door for the dog to jump in, she checked that she had a Frisbee for playtime and her list of chores to do on the way home. She'd been too upset to take care of the weekend chores last week so she'd been disorganized and behind all week. She didn't want that to happen again.
About a half an hour later, she stood in the parking lot to put on her fanny pack and pull her hood up. Three other cars in the lot. Good, Emma would be able to do some running and real play. She let Emma out and called her to follow through the gate. Delighted to be off leash, Emma bounded onto the grassy field.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ryan listened quietly as Dana explained, "I'm sorry you couldn't get a baby sitter for Friday night but I have the tickets for the concert and I want to go. I'm not ready to cancel special events for your children. I can arrange something for Friday night but I think we should just forget about making other plans together."
Not ready to express his frustration, he answered, "Suit yourself." and put the phone back on the stand. He thought about his stupid response, "Suit yourself." Obviously she had. He headed back in the kitchen to check on the kids, reminding himself not to take it out on them. This wasn't their fault.
They were already finished eating and Jamey was down with his new sword in hand. Ryan studied his son, "Remember, no teasing. If you bother Kelly with that, it gets put away again."
Jamey didn't answer so he asked, "Did you hear me? If you bug her, it gets put away."
Jamey nodded.
Ryan turned the television on so they could watch their show while he went back o clean up the kitchen. He'd barely moved the dishes off the table when he heard Kelly, "Don't!"
He sighed, glancing out the window. Rain or no rain, they all needed to get out. Where? The dog park. Charley needed some exercise too. He'd bundle them up and get them outside to break up this gloomy day.
With the boots and raincoats on, he opened the door and let the kids head to the van while he snapped Charley's leash to the collar. Charley didn't seem as eager as the kids but he finally agreed to get up and move to the van. As Ryan urged Charley into the back, he noticed Jamey had the sword in hand. Why had he ever agreed to a Halloween costume with a sword included. Even a plastic sword with no point was just too tempting for a four year old boy.
As he got in the driver's seat, he looked at Jamey, "Remember, you tease Kelly with that sword and it goes away."
Jamey didn't respond. "Jamey?" Finally Jamey nodded.
Ryan started the van and headed toward the dog park. He was relieved to find the parking lot nearly empty. They could all get some fresh air and exercise without the problems of dogs that didn't socialize well.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I've taken on a new project, meant to be of value to someone else. It may be but I'm finding it an excellent learning opportunity for me.

I agreed to help a woman living with severe macular degeneration write her life story. I meet with her weekly, set up my tape recorder and try to guide her with talking points and questions. I take basic outline notes while she talks.

Back at the home computer, I play the tape and try to catch the essence of her story in her own words. The process has turned into the most informative lesson on developing a character's dialog possible. A chance to listen and listen again to the language, flow patterns, and traces of dialect as my lead character talks. Then to use what I'm hearing to tell her story in her words without the pauses, fill ins, and repetition we all use in our daily speech. The elements that would distract from her story and cause her embarrassment.

The attention I'm giving her dialog is more intense than I've given the characters in my fiction. It's an exercise that will change my attitude toward dialog in my own writing.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Barnes and Noble.com to the rescue. I've been squeezed! Like many other authors published by small or non traditional presses, I'm caught in the strong arm twist by Amazon.com. They still list my books, rank them, and carry the reviews, but they don't sell them. There is no buy button. Not because of my books, my writing, or me but because they are now owners of a publishing company and want my books redone by their company.
When I protested, I received a lengthy letter of explanation, saying in essence, that the new policy is to speed up the process and better satisfy the customers. A story I'll believe when they begin remaking all the toys, clothing, and appliances they also sell.
On the upside, Barnes and Noble.com does the same job at the same price and just as quickly. www.barnesandnoble.com

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Oregon, the Valentine state, celebrates it's one hundred fiftieth birthday on February 14, next year. A place of great diversity, in the land itself, in the people who were here and those who have come after, there is richness in it's history and in it's growth.

The Oregon 150 organization, led by our Governor and Senate, is planning a year of cultural celebration that should call out to the writer in all of us. There are stories to be told. For more information, go to www.Oregon150.org

Monday, March 03, 2008

As a child, I visited the beautiful brick school my grandfather was helping build as a WPA carpenter. As an adult I've visited incredible lodges in our national parks, built by WPA workers. I've also read political cartoons making fun of the program and studied the concept in history classes. It wasn't until another writer turned me on to a different part of the program that I discovered many authors were also employed by the WPA. One of their projects was to interview and record the lifestyles, culture and history of people from all over the country from 1936 to 1940 Those records are in the Smithsonian but are available on line, arranged by state. The address is www/rs6.loc.gov/anmem/wpaintro/wpahome.html
I've been reading the stories told by the people of Oregon in their own words and discovered they are fascinating and rich with history not taught in the classroom.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

After weeks of Oregon rain, freezing rain and a mix of rain and snow with no birds in sight, I made a drive north in a morning drizzle. The country road I chose passed through grassy fields that have been soaked for weeks and now have standing water in large puddles.

I knew my choice of road was right as soon as the Canada Geese flew over, headed toward the river, not one wedge but many. I could count ten in the short time I was under them.

My next reward was passing by a large flock of Tundra Swans settled in a field close enough to let me watch as one or two changed locations like children at recess. Not much farther, a sheep pasture alive with hundreds of gulls mixed with the sheep caught my attention. Not usual since our gulls typically prefer parking lots near a food source over soggy fields. In that same field, a pair of wood ducks had found a temporary large puddle attractive for a swim.

Of course, I could spot the usual hawk in a bare tree or sometimes a fence post, and once in a awhile a pair of crows along side the road.

Before I got to an urban area, I'd also spotted one field hosting a huge flock of starlings, probally gathered for a general meeting before they divided and headed out in smaller groups to search for food. Those big flocks always make me wonder just who is in charge and if there are sub captains.

My last spotting, the one I always think of as lucky, was a Great Blue Heron in a sheep pasture bordering the river. A satisfying morning drive for me. The winter dearth of birds hasn't meant we're deserted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For Oregon Readers
Join Jane Kirkpatrick, esteemed Oregon author, for Brunch at 10:00 on March 8, 2008 as she does a special presentation honoring Women in History at the Eugene Hilton, 66 E. 6th Ave. Eugene, Oregon. For reservations, send a check made out to AAUW to A. Hinman, 236 Greenvale Dr., Springfield, OR 97477 by March 1. The cost is $18.00. This special event is sponsored by the Eugene-Lane Branch of the American Association of University Women.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

To Start The Day
Trying to gird myself to tackle the needed changes to make for the beginning of a new year, I picked up my January edition of the Willamette Writer Monthly Newsletter. Contemplating the dreary end of year chores on another grey morning, the article, Keeping Hope Alive, by Jessica Morrell turned out to be the spur I needed.
Above all else, the steps she suggested, ideas she put forth, and her way of looking at the Writer's Life reminded me that my mind set and what I do about it are up to me. It's not the housekeeping gods, the filing inspectors, or even the IRS in charge. It's me who decides my attitude if not my activities. One more time I have to make the decision to stand up and take charge. My day will be what I decide it can be.