Friday, January 24, 2020

Oh the Adventures We Had!

Mom always said, “He’s such a handsome man.”  Every time we’d get together with Bill and Candy.  Dinner or bbq or neighborhood chitchat.  “Such a handsome man.”  To me, well he was just Bill.

He and Candy bought the little store across the street from our home in 1978. Candy was as sweet as they come, a little naive about the ins-and-outs of running a neighborhood market, and soft-hearted. Oh she learned!  But to start with...well we worried about her. But Bill was an old hand at dealing with all the riff-raff. He had an outwardly curmudgeonly approach, giving the stink-eye to any rebel-rousers. He had a great voice that demanded to be obeyed. And the kindest heart around.  You needed anything?  Both he and Candy made sure you got it.

Bill loved gadgets.  He and my dad got along so well; they could compare gadgets.  He loved trains that ran around the Christmas tree.  And beer. He liked having ice cold beer on tap in the reconfigured refrigerator he had in his garage.

I started working for Bill and Candy at the store the summer of 1979.  I had just finished my freshman year in college and my job at Portland Public School was finished for the season. I asked if they needed any help. I think they felt I might as well get paid as I was over there visiting all the time.  I started working from 3p to closing at 11p. 
Not long after I started working there, we hired Nellie—she lived across from me—to work the weekend days, me on nights. Then Shirley—she lived next door to Nellie—started throwing freight on Wednesdays.  All our kids were hired as bottle kids.  Bill and Candy became an important part of the neighborhood.  They became family.

And they took wonderful care of us.  They paid above minimum wage. There was a time that I could not afford to pay my water bill.  It wasn’t much—maybe $10–but just one too many bills that month.  They paid it for me.  They hung a filled stocking when I opened the store on Christmas Day.  They made sure I had a ham or a small turkey for my kids on Thanksgiving.  They co-signed small loans for me in order to build up my credit and so I could get through humps and bumps.  

Fourth of July was a great time to hang out at their house.  Lots of noisy bangs, sparkles, flying stuff.  One year the man I was dating and I went to their house to play with them and their family.  Unfortunately Scott's wheelchair ramp on the van broke right when we arrived.  It wouldn't go down, so Scott couldn't get out.  Bill took out time, trying to fix it so that my fella could get out when we got home. Didn’t work, so we decided to just go with the flow and celebrated the holiday anyway!

They celebrated with us at my sons’ high school graduations, my college graduation. They mourned with us my father’s death.  They celebrated my son’s wedding, my  wedding.  Together we celebrated their kids’ ups and outs, Candy’s mother’s wedding.  Our lives were all intertwined in a glorious and loving way.

I worked for them until 1998 when I took a teaching sabbatical.  Even as I stopped working, Shirley stopped, and then Nellie, we continued to get together to celebrate our friendship by having summer potlucks at the park, Christmas dinners at the buffet. As time went on, our dinner gatherings became smaller.  Shirley passed in 2015; Art, her husband, the next year.  Nellie’s husband Bob and Bill’s health declined.  Bobby passed Christmas Day in 2018.  Candy would join us for lunch or dinners but Bill was too fragile to come along.

Yesterday our dear friend Bill passed away. I will miss his wicked teasing, his beautiful smile, his cranky voice that was meant to be obeyed. And his delightful laugh, his handsome face.  He and Candy are a blessing in my life and one of the best things to ever happen to me and to our little neighborhood.  And if they were still with us, Dad would tell me what a great guy Bill was, Mom would remind me that he was such a handsome man and they would also mourn his death.

Rest In Peace, my dear friend.  Know you are loved.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

smokin hot!

I was a junior in high school.  My boyfriend had just broken up with me and I wanted to make a great change in my life.  I thought maybe I was too much a "goody-two-shoes" and wanted to be more of a bad girl.  So I stole one of Mom's cigarettes--a filterless Pall Mall no less--and smoked it!  That'll show him I'm a bad girl!  No coughing.  No queazy stomach.  I was a natural.

And talk about a Bad Girl!  These ciggies were FILTERLESS!  I became good at tamping down the cig and spitting off that little bit of tobacco that wanted to be on my lips.  Oh yeah I was a. Bad. Girl.

I switched to filtered Kools when Mom did.  At 16, my choices of what I smoked pretty much depended on stealing my mother's brand. *singing* You're not smokin cool enough 'til you come up to Kool!

By a year later, I was buying my own.  Oh, still hiding them from my parents, but buying my own.  Marlboros were the youth brand of choice.  We still tamped them down tight but that was just to look cool.And that flip-top!  Very cool.

And talk about being cool, I smoked clove cigarettes when in college.  I felt so college-studentish. The scent of cloves alone was cool, like coffee shops were cool and poetry readings. I stopped smoking cloved cigarettes when I couldn't breathe well and was coughing up thick clovish phlegm.

The best part of smoking was the friends you can make with all those other smokers.  When I first started college, professors would actually smoke in the classroom.  Then the college moved smoking to the halls, to the out-of-doors, to eventually no smoking on campus.  I was teaching college when we hardy smokers would stand outside the building and talk about the cold winter air.  Then we became friends.  Then we hung out together when we weren't smoking.  Got to be great friends with some of my students that way.

I smoked for about 35 years and was up to about three packs of smokes a day.  Finding the Internet increased my smoking to three packs because I would sit in front of the computer screen for hours and hours and hours, smoking while chatting online.  I had once postponed a cigarette for about three months but was a pretty consistent smoker over those 35 years.  I liked smoking.  I liked the camaraderie that smoking brought.  And it was still, you, in my head anyway.

And then I just quit. Cold turkey. Quit. Why? No reason except it was time. Tough thing, quitting.  At first I would light a match, blow it out, and inhale the smoke HA!  I would say out loud, "I really want a smoke!" and move on.  I would say it because I just had to get that OUT instead of allowing it to fester and explode. I became that person at work who never left her office unless she had a class, a meeting or needed to get a people intake. I usually ate lunch at my desk. I gained weight, got into the Altoid thing--curiously strong mints were a nice substitute--and cut my hair.  Never have been sure why women cut their hair when they are going through stuff, but we do. Break up? Cut your hair. Quit smoking? Cut your hair.

I forgot how to argue. Previously, I was a very good person in an argument.  Smoking allowed me to think through what I was going to say.  Quit and every thought that ran through my head came out my mouth. There was no stopping that flow. At one point, my fairly new husband said, "I just want my wife back!"  Well, that never actually happened...but a new version of the same wife emerged. I'm okay now...usually.
I've been a former-smoker for 19 years now. I still miss the smell of fresh smoke. I miss the social aspect of chattering with smokers. Interestingly, when e-cigarettes came out, I wanted to try them...wasn't like really smoking, right? Still do if I think about them, even with all the horrible things happening to people who do use them...but glad I never did, never will.

I'm not quite as cool as I was back then, but cool enough.
And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Weird Portland Wednesday: Oregon Christmas Trees

Photo: The Oregon Forest Resources Institute
I love to celebrate.  Anything.  Birthdays should last at least a week, anniversaries a couple of weeks, and weddings for the first year.  
**Whoa!  The sun is out!  Celebrate!  
**Hey! It's raining again!  Celebrate!
**YippeeSkippee!  I found the thangy that was missing!  Celebrate!

So of course, simply because Christmas has come and gone doesn't mean we should forget to celebrate little things that come up over the following year.  I mean, Christmas is only 345 days away :)

Oregon harvests more Christmas trees than any other state, nearly double what our nearest competitor, North Carolina, will harvest.  About 63,000 acres are planted and managed specifically for Christmas trees; the majority Douglas Firs.  In Oregon, Christmas trees are considered an agricultural crop and their acreage does not count as forestland. (The Oregon Forest Resources Institute)

Forty-five percent of the crop will go to California.  The rest are spread out among other Western states (10%), Atlantic and Gulf states (13%), Mexico (16%), and overseas to foreign markets (16%).  

We do have beautiful trees and a Christmas tree lot on about every corner—you know like Starbucks (which is on about every corner in Portland) but without the coffee.  Just trees and happy people selling them.  

So how do we get people to buy from a certain lot?  ADVERTISING!  Tell Portlanders what they want to hear!  

It's just one more way we keep Portland weird.

And so it goes

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Quilty Stuff: What's Been on My Design Board?

I have been busy in the quilting studio and in front of my sewing machine but now Christmas has come and gone and I'm ready to start some new projects.  

Some of the Christmas gifts I made this year were for family and a few friends. 
  • Kiddo Placemats:  All three great nephews and niece received a placemat for their breakfast.  I think they turned out so cute.  Here's Kayden enjoying his waffles.  I love personalized placemats for kids.  We didn't grow up using placemats and I always wanted them.  Finally got some for the grandies :)

  • Microwave Bowl Cozies:  These are so fun and easy to make.  I'll post the pattern next week. I made a couple for the house--kept them because one corner of the first one wasn't sewn well so I couldn't give it away.  And then I made one larger, thinking it needed to be.  But it didn't.  So I kept them :)  My fella loves them!  I made one for all four nieces.  Here's Ami enjoying hers. 

  • Coaster:  I made a batch of coasters and gave them to some of my friends when we got together for an annual luncheon.  Last time I made them cozies...perhaps that is what my nieces will receive next year!  I also gave one each to my sons and my sister.  It was fun to make these scrappy coasters.  I used lonely little spare blocks I had hanging around.  Now they all have homes and are happily absorbing fluids that are dripping down the sides of mugs and glasses and cups. 

  • I made pillowcases for my nephews.  Nathan is a huge University of Oregon fan, so made him a Ducks case.  Danny graduated from Western Illinois University where he played football, so made him a purple and golden case.  And Ope graduated from NYU Medical School, so his was purple and white.  

Richard's Quilt
Thre was one last thing I made for a gift.  I made my good friend a quilt.  Boy howdy was he surprised.  He's such a good guy, he deserves every gift out there. Except ice cream. 

I didn't make as many quilty gifts this year.  I was busy with student and clients quilting.  So not as much was made; just enough :)

Magic Boxes
So now what?  I have two projects I am currently working on.  My Winter quilting class is making Magic Boxes, a free quilt design from Donna Jordan of Jordan Fabrics.  It is a fun string pattern design that, when put together, makes these fun squares.

The second project is a Block of the Month project through Facebook.  I created the overall quilt pattern using different sized blocks that are on Marcia Holmes' website Quilter's Cache.  In December 2020 we will put it all together. Here's our first block.  It's called "Another Star."

Both projects will take some time to complete, so I will be working on other quilty stuff all year long.

And so it goes

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Sunday Funday: Hiking in the Rain

(Photo: Oregonian)
People who live in arid areas of the U.S., like Southern California, don't understand how we Oregonians can ever leave the house because it rains and rains and rains.  How silly.  Meanwhile, I am not sure how anyone who lives in Georgia in the summer can ever leave the house *wink*  But we do.  We have real lives and do things.  

Portland averages 43 inches of rain a year; the national average is 38.  Between Seattle and Portland, it depends on the year.  Seattle's average is 38 inches a year.  But Seattle rains more days with lighter rainfalls.  Portland has more rain per day, but less days raining.
Of course, most of us are without an umbrella in both cities because umbrellas are for tourists ;)

Okay now that we have that out in the open, let's get hiking!  A little rain shouldn't stop you from getting out in the elements and checking out the sights.  We would select a spot to hike around, grab a few extra towels and some water, put the harness on the pup and hit the hills.  We felt like we were unstoppable!  We also thought we wouldn't find many people along the trails. We were wrong!  It seems like rain brings everyone out.  Boy howdy.

Columbia Gorge is a great hiking place.  Plenty of trails for the kids and the dogs and you to run off some winter steam.  There are 11 hard trails and many easy children and old people like me trails.  

(Photo: Chris Henry / Kitsap Sun)
Silver Falls State Park is an incredibly beautiful hiking area, with more than 24 miles of walking trails.  The park has 10 waterfalls, dog-friendly trails, and an off-lease area but note that some trails dogs are not allowed, including in the canyon.

(Photo: bobcat)
Sometimes we simply drive over to a Portland park that we had never walked and played around through the spaces.  We live near Pier Park in the North. We were enchanted on our first visit. The park is almost all shade, with Douglas-firs, sequoias, madrones, and cedars forming the canopy.  All those trees help keep the rain out of your collar. There are over 90 acres of park that hold many interesting aspects, like moss engulfed power stations.  Conjoined is Chimney Park, an off-leash dog park.  There is now a steel truss bridge from one park to the other over the train canyon. This is part of the 40-mile regional 40-Mile Loop trail system. The trail eventually will connect Cathedral Park to the Smith and Bybee Natural Area and Kelley Point Park. Pier Park is one of my favorite parks in Portland.

(Photo: Jensen Adams)
But so is Forest Park.  Incredible hiking trails. Incredible views.   With 5,200 acres, it is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. It has more than 80 miles of trails. You can hike day-after-day and see something new each time. Overlook the Willamette River.  Hike to the other side to the Pittock Mansion.  Find an overgrown castle.  Forest Park has everything a rainy day can offer.

So get up and get those kids and pups out of the house for some fresh air and puddle splashing.  Enjoy your Sunday Funday.

And so it goes