Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the Pink

Yesterday evening, for the first time in probably two years, I started to have all the signs of a cold... sneezing, stuffy head, feeling a bit chilled and grumpy.

I looked at the symptoms and asked myself, "What is it about all these elements that I am drawing toward me that I need to look at?"

I decided I could best evaluate all this from under the down coverlet and climbed into bed early. Historically, going back many decades to when I was little, faking a cold meant I didn't have to go to school. I got to be so good at it that my mother hated to take my temperature because she knew it was going to be higher than normal and she would have to call the school and tell them I wasn't going to be there. Sometime around lunchtime, when it was too late to take me to school, I would have a miraculous recovery and my temperature would be back to my normal, which is lower than 98.6. And I would have had a lovely day reading and listening to the radio - back in those days, when horses had toes, we didn't have a television.

Jey-hu and I have had a lot of intense things to take care of recently and so when I began my reflection, I realized that it was my mind and body saying, "We need to have a retreat from the activities and go from the very busy "doing," and shift gears from stop to just "being." Kind of like letting the car be in "Park" or at idle. Idyll. Ideal. Yeah.

This morning when I woke up to sunshine and the magnolias just dripping petals all over the yard, I knew I was back "in the pink," and ready to see what the day had to offer. The morning drive to the post office to pick up the mail was crisp, but clear and bright - a respite from the rain and greyness which is about to come back... forecast is for wet weather probably through the weekend.

Later this afternoon on the drive home from a visit with a friend I noticed (and the shutter was too slow so it's a bit fuzzy) that "the pink" was still present... can you see it, too? You can probably see the rain falling over our house as well because we live almost dead ahead of the roadway up on the hill.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is sprung...

and the rest of the poem goes like this:
the grass is riz,
I wonder where the birdies is...
But I've actually seen a few of the birdies... a chickadee, some sparrows, a woodpecker. But I wonder if I'm just preoccupied or if the bird count is down, because there do not seem to be as many birds in the yard just now.

But the apple tree (see top and close up to the left) and the plum tree and the neighbor's magnolia are fairly screaming to be noticed. "Look at me! Look at me! Smell me!" they are all yelling at me when I go outside. And according to the various reports on pollen counts, it is the worst year ever recorded for pollen. But so far I'm not much affected by it. Jey-hu has had a miserable reaction, however - coughing, sneezing, sniffling, stuffy, etc.
He is ready to leave right now and return to Colombia where he never had any kind of reaction to their blooming things. And this coming from a Northwest native! He is stupified by his body's negative response to spring. I think the two and half months away just gave his body a chance to reconfigure - go figger!
Still, the bursting forth of new life is always such a hopeful sign and with all the peculiar activities on the national and global front, stopping and smelling the apple blossoms is comforting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Remembering today all the wonderful people in my life who were Irish, but particularly Patrick "Pat" O'Leary who was like a saint to me. He taught me to love the earth and find joy in turning it. His favorite song to hum when I was following him around was "Annie Laurie" and "The Rose of Tralee." (If you click on the song name, you can hear it, I hope. The link also has all the words and loads of other Irish songs.)Lucky Shamrock

My father loved music and although he was not Irish, one of his favorite songs was "Danny Boy," which still makes my eyes get wet when I hear it. This is also the anniversary of his death several decades ago. He was such a remarkable man. Is it enough to simply say I still miss him?

Here are a few Irish poems to cheer you, whether or not you are Irish.

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

Sure and begorrah, this is for the Leprechaun in each of us....

May those who love us, love us
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!

And if you are traveling on this day....

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Rainy Weekend

We headed out early on Friday, and crossed the mighty Columbia River around lunchtime. There had been a break in the weather long enough to get this grey-toned shot. The rest of the ride was mostly rain until we went over Grant's Pass and then we got a nasty bit of both rain and snow mixed.
So our plans to enjoy the outside weather in Medford were curtailed by rain, and apparently it is cold enough down there for snow to fall on the surrounding mountains down as low as 3,000 feet! That made it cold enough that when there was a spot of sunshine, it was brisk, to say the least. This shot of Table Rock (about seven miles N of Medford) taken near Central Point, was taken on Saturday as we were sort of touring around. It looks more like Arizona with that beaute of a butte! Apparently there are two of these identified as Table Rock 1 and 2 or Bigger and Smaller, but I'd have to see a map to confirm this.

When we stopped for a lunch break, we were near a town called Gold Hill, that has, according to one fellow we spoke with - not the Census man - 600 residents. It is also the place where the Oregon Vortex is located. According to Wikipedia, "The Oregon Vortex is a roadside attraction located in Gold Hill, Oregon, in the United States. It consists of a number of interesting effects which skeptics believe to be optical illusions, but which the attraction's proprietors claim are the result of paranormal properties of the area (see gravity hill). It is located at 42.49313°N 123.085113°W" And as I said, the weather was less than conducive to walking on a long dirt path.

I didn't have my camera handy to catch a lovely bluejay flying overhead with a beakful of twigs for a nearby nest. Or to stop action of the ten or so bicylers in their yellow windbreakers pedaling past. And we could smell the apple blossoms, which is really hard to get on film!
But I did get this lovely view of the mountains in the area.
This was taken a few miles south of the Rogue River and all the wonderful outdoor fun to be had on the river, in the parks and mountains. I would definitely make a return visit to this part of the world, but my preference would be for a sunny and warmer - lonnnnnger - weekend.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heading south again...

But not as far as Colombia, unless you count the Columbia River. We plan to drive as far as Medford, Oregon to meet up with some friends, spend at least one night in the area and possibly get some decent "fun time" in after many weeks of dealing with various corporations on multiple issues.
The other morning when I went out to go and run an early morning errand, I was totally caught by surprise at having to wait - wait! (I'm beginning to think I might be getting infected with the Hurry Disease...) before I could drive anywhere. This is why. The frost on my windshield had to have a chance to melt. Kind of looks like Pluto from one of the Disney cartoons, don't you think? (I never did well on the Rorshach tests, either.)
Although it has been much cooler here, it hasn't stopped the buds from continuing to swell in preparation for what promises to be a fullsome spring. I planted four blueberry bushes in the back yard and they are racing each other to see who will come into flower first. And because our plans to return to the Colombia we love are dependent on several other things happening first, I am not sure if that will be before, during or after blueberry season.
With the help of my son, I was able to upload our bus trip video to YouTube so if you are interested, you can see what it was like to ride on the windy Colombian roads to Bucharamanga. (here's a short portion.) He is moving away, so this was our last chance to share a meal together for awhile. The promise of his journey is very exciting and will doubtless guide him toward doing more of the things he is skilled at with computers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We've been back in the U.S. for a month

A sunset from the ridge on San Jose Alta, Barichara, Santander, Colombia.
And there are a number of observations I can make about both the people and the living style that is continuing here vs. Colombia.
1) Everyone seems to be in a terrible rush here. No one appears to have any patience with anyone else and yet they complain that no one is patient with them! Colombians demonstrated they were willing to take time to listen to a couple of gringos/gringas struggle with the language so they, the natives, could provide a service. Here, if you take too much time trying to explain what it is that you are looking for, people are literally rude enough to begin drumming their fingers on the counter!
2) It has always been my policy, being in Public Relations at one point in my life, to return phone calls. I found this to be true in Colombia as well, even though there were times I couldn't interpret all of the message, the people I called did call me back. Here... well, it's no wonder things are in the mess they are. I have called some people several times and do not even get the courtesy of a return message - ever! Or we may call someone and it's not a good time to talk, which is understandable - and we're told, "We'll call you back in (fill in a time slot)." Only the call is never returned. Must be the rush that everyone is in...
3) Fear... a lot of conversations overheard in U.S. malls, shops, grocery stores, etc., seem to be about fear - "I'm afraid the world is....", "Aren't you afraid your retirement funds will disappear?", "Did you hear that Social Security is likely to be stopped?", and "What if we have an earthquake?" It is true my Latin American Spanish is not high-level functioning but I was able to eavesdrop a little bit on conversations in similar locales down there and the message I got there was significantly more hopeful: "Aren't you glad we got a little rain today?", "We are excited about our daughter's school report...", "It was nice that the doctor took time to explain that procedure to us...", and "It was good that the cost of dinner was less than we expected." Much of the phrasing seems to be aimed at a positive view of things instead of fearful.

I am not complaining. There are many things about life in the Northwest that are pleasurable, but the speed of life here isn't one of them. And there are some aspects of life in South America that are significantly more challenging than in the U.S. (like having good quality water all the time!) and harder to overcome. Still, I miss the kind of "shut-it-all-down-it's-dark-outside" way of life and waking up to the crowing of the rooster in the finca nearby. And the noise... or lack of it. I really miss the country quietness. Sigh.