Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Weird Portland Wednesday: For the Love of Trees

American elm at 1111 SW 10th Ave. was named Portland's first historic tree in 1973
We love our trees, oh yes we do.  We have a law that you need a permit to cut down any tree on private land that is more than 12" in diameter at breast height.  And you may need to plant new trees that, combined, equal what you cut down.  Once known as "Stumptown," Portland has become "Tree Town."

In 1990, Portland resident Phyllis Reynolds published a book dedicated to the Trees of Greater Portland.  She was worried that these beautiful trees would be cut down to make room for development.  She drove up and down streets throughout the Portland area, talking to land owners about their trees, giving life to these beauties throughout our city.

We love our trees so much, we have named almost 300 of them as Historical.  Heritage Trees are trees that have been formally recognized by City Council for their unique size, age, historical or horticultural significance.  Once named as such, the tree is given a plaque and can not be cut.  If on private land, landowners must agree to this listing.  This safety from cutting belongs to the tree, not to the owner; therefore, successors are also not allowed to harm the tree.  BTW, in the US, the first state-sponsored heritage tree program began in 1995 in Oregon with the Giant Sitka Spruce.

We love our trees so much, we don't allow anything to get in their way....  We decorate, on all occasions, this little pine located in the World's Smallest Park.  And here's my friend Cece standing next to a glorious tree that has decided not to allow civilization to take over.    It's just one more thing that helps keep Portland Weird.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

And Dem Republicans Be Like...

I've been around for a long time.  Not nearly as long as my mother nor my aunt of course, but you know...a fairly long time.  I've had the pleasure to watch television come into our lives, first as black and white and then move into color.  What a joy it was when Mom and Dad finally bought a color TV and we could watch Disney's Wide World of Color!  

We moved into the little transistor radios and then into audio cassettes.  I remember walking to school carrying my transistor and dancing to the pop music along the way.  When I was still in high school, Telstar came along to broadcast telephone and television signals.  That's how I could watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

I've watched different social media come to life.  I jumped into it feet-first in the early 90s through Internet Relay Chat (IRC).  Met thousands of people along the way, including my husband.  When our IRC #41plus channel started waning, one of our members created a new venue for us on this new thang called "Facebook."

Okay, back to the main idea of this entry...  My first time to vote was just after 1971 when President Nixon signed in the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  This Amendment gave people 0f 18 the right to vote.  I was 21.  There were Republicans and there were Democrats and there were Libertarians and there were other parties out there.  And they were sending mean and dirty television ads toward one another.  But without this newfangled immediate social interaction, we tended to keep it local.  Hell, in the beginning there were battles between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.  But there were no memes of sarcasm and hatred and shaming to spur each other on.

Not no more no how.  Boy howdy!  Daily we get hit by memes and polls and meanness on a minute-to-minute basis.  We get to see how much we think differently.  How Republicans are angels to those dirty Democrats.  We get to see how Democrats are forward-thinking patriots to those education-hating Republicans.  Conservatives are great!  Liberals are fanatic!  Conservatives are bad: holding back the future!  Liberals are good: looking at where we need to go to stay a world!

Aren't you tired yet of all this?

There is no other purpose to post such trash than to create divisiveness.  I recently heard in an interview that we are no longer attempting to change people's minds with our political posts on social media, but to create more division.  To nanner nanner in people's faces.  To stick out our tongues and play with our wagons in front of those who aren't of like mind.  I also heard that the newest charged Russian admitted to plastering Facebook with such memes in hopes to split us apart.  It has seemed to work, didn't it *sigh*

So let's stop.  Yes, just stop it.  Let's find what we have in common.  We are all worried about a great deal of issues.  NBC News found these 15 things are what we all are concerned about--the issue if not the possible solution:

54% - The availability and affordability of healthcare
53% - The economy
51% - The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.
46% - The Social Security system
46% - The size and power of the federal government
46% - The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.
43% - Hunger and homelessness
43% - Crime and violence
39% - Illegal immigration
38% - Drug use
37% - Unemployment
34% - The quality of the environment
28% - The availability and affordability of energy
28% - Race relations
25% - Climate change

If we all tend to share these concerns, then we are not so different as the magic memes say we are.  So whadya say we start finding ways to be chums again.  Stop pissing off others just for the joy of "gotcha."  (You can also leave off pictures of your dinners on social media, but that's a whole separate issue.)  Remember the "be respectful" part of being out in public (and always wear clean underwear just in case you are in an accident.  But again, another issue).


Monday, October 01, 2018

Given a Little Time

Marline, me, Richard, September 2018
No one leaves a high school reunion shrugging their shoulders, thinking, "Well, that's over."  We either leave it wondering why we came, happy we came, or totally energized that we have reconnected with old friends.  This year we celebrated 50 years after graduation.  Fifty years having left teen years behind.  Fifty years as adults.  There were 130 of us celebrating our youth.  Fifty years.

It was a grand celebration.  Thanks to social media like Facebook, many of us have kept up with each others lives to some degree; so having a face-to-face party was grand.  Some of us haven't seen one another in 50 years.  It was a total love fest.

The first day of the Reunion Weekend was a pizza party.  I spent most my time flitting around, camera in hand, hugs available.  The pizza parlor was glad to have us; the line for orders and drinks was out the door :)  Old friends greeting, chatting, laughing...the best of times. 

The second night of the weekend was the actual reunion
dinner.  We held it at Kellogg West at Cal Poly in Pomona, CA.  My good friend Richard and I spent the first half hour greeting incoming.  Everyone looked so good,  We might be older, but damnit we were pretty :)  

We honored five of our former teachers.  What fun that was, chatting with the teachers like we were peers.  But, laughingly, we all still called them "Mr." or "Mrs." rather than their first names.  They even asked us to call them by their first names...most of us couldn't. :)

Some of the fun things we had was a photobooth, some goofy trophy give-aways, and a presentation of Quilts of Valor to our veterans.  The idea of a photobooth was great--all of the committee were pleased with the idea but it almost didn't come to be.  We sent out notices early so people could rearrange their lives around the event, so confirmations were slow in coming.  Fortunately as the event neared, we swelled to over-expected.  

The Elizabeth Taylor Award was a tie--it went to Patti and to Mike with four marriages each.  The Ponce de Leon Award went to Nancy, who still looked 18.  The Marco Polo Award went to Alan, who came out from Maine.  The George Burns Award went to Gary and Char, who were married a week after we graduated.  And finally the Rose Kennedy Award was a tie--it went to Harriett and to Patti, who each have 18 grands and great-grands.

The short ceremony in presenting Quilts of Valor to our veterans was moving and lovely.  We presented 10 quilts during the reunion.  I also presented two others during the weekend to two Vietnam vets who were friends of mine, but not of our class.

The final day of the weekend was the picnic.  By now us old people were pretty tired.  The group was smaller but the chatting and laughter was just as grand. 
This bbq gave we who party hardy a chance to relax and talk more.  We had plenty of food, a nice group of about 50, and lots of hugs.

The amazing thing about a reunion is that the older we get, the less we hold grudges and the more we seek out childhood memories.  People we really didn't care for became interesting classmates we wish we would have known better 50 years earlier.  Old loves became mellow loves.  Playmates became precious to us again.  Our 10th reunion was fun to see each other after 10 years but our 50th is much more nostalgic, softer, mellow..with still great life to play and goof around.  For a few days we were 68, but 18 again.

Steve and me October, 1967

Friday, March 09, 2018

Buck Up, It'll Be Okay...

“It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.” ― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

About 19 million American adults are living with major depression.  Blogger Brittany Graziano  describes depression insightfully: Just imagine. Imagine having a flood of emotions run through your entire mind and body, causing all sorts of physical changes and intrusive, unwanted thoughts. Now, imagine that feeling, that nervous, anxious, overwhelming feeling that would give you... 

Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch--hell we've all be through those times and know it will be okay in the end.  No, it's a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care; it can be devastating to the one with depression as well as their family.

I can only speak as a mother who wants her sons to be healthy and loving and caring.  Both my sons are great men.  They care about others and communities, about politics and fairness, about love.  I adore my sons.  I look up to them as they find their ways through life.  But one of my sons suffers from depression.  His depression manifests itself in anger, in frustration, anxiety.  These emotions can guide his way.  His phone calls to me are at times long and ranting and rambling until he exhausts himself and we can move into more cheery discussions.  I often leave our conversations exhausted, depleted, anxious.  I mother-worry about both my sons; my worry focuses more on one than the other.

The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:
Depression signs and symptoms vary from person to person. They can include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren't your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent mention of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

As a family support member, trying to help someone who is depressed is a challenge, leaving us feeling helpless and overwhelmed.  I haven't yet learned how to be a better support.  I try to be a good listener.  I try not to argue or tell him it will all work out.  I try not to solve his problems...but I am his mom and I do want it to work out, so the pollyanna in me says so.  I'm his mom and, as a single mom to him for over half his life, a problem-solver.  Plus I get defensive when his ranting and raving move into my faults as his mother.  So yeah, I eventually argue the I see them against his facts as he sees them.  *sigh*

Again the Mayo Clinic:
What you can do for your loved one:

  • Encourage sticking with treatment. If your relative or friend is in treatment for depression, help him or her remember to take prescribed medications and to keep appointments.
  • Be willing to listen. Let your loved one know that you want to understand how he or she feels. When the person wants to talk, listen carefully, but avoid giving advice or opinions or making judgments. Just listening and being understanding can be a powerful healing tool.

  • Give positive reinforcement. People with depression may judge themselves harshly and find fault with everything they do. Remind your loved one about his or her positive qualities and how much the person means to you and others.
  • Offer assistance. Your relative or friend may not be able to take care of certain tasks well. Give suggestions about specific tasks you'd be willing to do, or ask if there is a particular task that you could take on.
  • Help create a low-stress environment. Creating a regular routine may help a person with depression feel more in control. Offer to make a schedule for meals, medication, physical activity and sleep, and help organize household chores.
  • Locate helpful organizations. A number of organizations offer support groups, counseling and other resources for depression. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, employee assistance programs and many faith-based organizations offer help for mental health concerns.
  • Encourage participation in spiritual practice, if appropriate. For many people, faith is an important element in recovery from depression — whether it's involvement in an organized religious community or personal spiritual beliefs and practices.
  • Make plans together. Ask your loved one to join you on a walk, see a movie with you, or work with you on a hobby or other activity he or she previously enjoyed. But don't try to force the person into doing something.
Depression is harsh.  Depression is all-consuming.  It can make every day tasks seem overwhelmingly impossible.  Self-esteem plummets.   It is exhausting.  

It breaks my heart. 
Link to Telephone, Hotlines and Help lines

Monday, March 05, 2018

Dream a Little Dream

When my sweet Aunt Jenny died, the community where she lived held a memorial.  She had been making quilts since she was young--my grandmother made them, my cousins make them; it is a family thing.  She often sewed the bindings on charity quilts for her group.  People displayed some of the gorgeous quilts she made or worked on over the years.  I wandered around the open room, looking at these works of art, thinking, "WOW."  Then I started looking closer at the quilts and realized I could do that!  I could make a quilt.  

When I returned home, I bought a book of blocks with directions, some fabric, some batting and started sewing.  That year everyone received something.  Mom, the large block I made was framed and hung with the needle and thread woven into the frame (it is in my sewing area in the apartment in California).  My sister, my sons, all received decorative pillows with some block on it.  And I made a little block wallhanging for us.  I was on my way.

Over the years I have now made hundreds of quilts.  The majority of them have been given to kids or organizations for kids, but the family and friends have received a few.  At first I pieced and quilted all the tops on my little Husky Star.  What a trooper it is.  I still use it when I take classes because it travels nicely.  I upped my sewing machine to a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire (I love Husqvarna's and as you can see, they have been my dream machine since I started sewing on my little Singer back in 1968; it was my graduation gift from my folks)

Then I started paying people to quilt the larger ones like double bed size through king...and dreamed of owning a longarm quilting machine.  Alas, no space.  No money.  Nada.  So I continued to quilt what I could on my sweet machine.

I thought through many scenarios where I could get my longarm.  The neighbor's house was for sale and the back door is just steps away from our would make a PERFECT sewing/quilting space.  I could even have retreats there with sleepovers.  We could rent a space in the neighborhood and make that into a quilting space.  We could build onto the house and create a complete studio.  Then when we sell, it could be a den or music room or whatever.  I really like that idea.  I could see the French doors leading off into the space, the sewing station, the quilting frame, shelves and cabinets.  Doug vetoed that one. 

Then I decided to convert my half of the garage into a 200 sq ft quilting space and we set off to have it become something real.  Now you don't really want to know all of those hassles...but alas it didn't happen.  Instead we built a shed.

We hired Tuff Shed to build us a marvelous quilting studio.  As it is no more than 200sq ft and doesn't have it's own electricity, it didn't need a building permit.  YippeeSkippee!  Space built...longarm machine and frame delivered--a Juki TL2200QVP Quilt Virtuoso Pro Longarm with Grace Virtuoso King Frame.  And after a year-long battle with JUKI to get it running right (thank you Montavilla Sewing!), I had my space and my magic quilting machine.

I am trying to improve my quilting but I am still rather shaky.  I can't do fancy stuff, but I keep trying.  Those little kids who receive the quilts only care that they are warm and cuddly and filled with love.  Friends send me tops to quilt and donate; great to help me practice.  I have made a couple commissioned quilts and warn the receivers that I am learning...learning...learning.  It works.

And now...oh yeah and now.  I named the studio and Doug is making me a Barn Quilt for the outside wall.  It will be a Jacob's Ladder block with the name through the middle: Daisy Quilts.