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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

1. Yesterday, my back seemed well enough to risk a long drive, the weather didn’t look horrible, I knew my mother-in-law wanted my late husband’s grave decorated for Memorial Day, and I wanted to see the bookstore that’s taking over where I left off (I had to close up shop after David died). So I took the three hour drive up, checked in at the new bookstore (it looks nice), bought flowers, decorated the grave, and came home. The landscape was green, the sky had patches of bright blue, and it was snowing in the mountain passes. Must be spring in Eastern Oregon.

2. I forgot to put a jacket in the car, so after I drove through the snow, I stopped at the first thrift store I came to. I usually stop there anyway. It provides jobs for people who can’t hold regular jobs, whether from mental problems, physical problems, or some combination of that. The young woman who checked me out (with heavy supervision) did a good job, and was calm and cheerful, which is notable with her. When I stopped to buy flowers halfway across town, I crossed paths with her mother in the grocery store parking lot, and was able to make a good report. What the chances are that ‘Mom’ and I would see each other while in pedestrian mode, where we could mosey together for a chat, right after I’d seen her daughter in A-plus mode, I don’t know. But it was fun. Thank you, God.

3. Last Sunday I went to a different church than usual. I ran into people I used to know something like 15 years ago. They had been friends with my husband, but hadn’t heard he’d died. So we had a good cry, and they invited me to a potluck Monday, and to help with a Wednesday afternoon ministry to people who live in assisted living centers. I wasn’t a Christian when I knew them. It’s interesting, picking up with old friends who, for all intents and purposes, knew you as someone else. (If Christianity isn’t transforming you from the inside out, it’s not really Christianity. The changes might be glacial in some cases, but, truly, they happen when it’s the real deal.)

4. I went Wednesday afternoon to the assisted living centers, had a wonderful time, and am signed up to go every week, Lord willing, unless/until I get a job that might require me to work Wednesday afternoons. I think I’ll try to find a job that lets me have that time off, though. I like working with old people. They bless me more than I bless them, I think.

One of the regulars on this Wednesday Bible study ministry is a 13-year-old girl who plays piano for the residents. This week, she brought two kittens for the residents to hold and play with while she visited. I am told that the girl used to be anxious as Wednesday approached, but now looks forward to it. She is certainly a hit with the residents. She’s shy, but poised, if that makes sense.

5. These assisted living centers are not on the industrial model. Both had big aquariums, and one place had a huge bird cage with a pair of what I think were a type of cockatiel. Something like that, at any rate. When we sang hymns, one of them joined in, with a vibrato wordless melody. I can’t sing worth a lick. The bird outsang me.

6. I have several books on Kindle. This week I decided to put them on Nook, too. What worked for Kindle did not work for Nook. The good news is that I’m learning just all sorts of computer skills I never knew I needed to know. The bad news is that it is eating up hours and hours, learning and practicing all these computer skills.

7. I got part of a vegetable garden planted this week. The last time I tried to raise vegetables, deer, earwigs, and other plagues, got all but one green bean. Seriously, my total harvest was one bean. I am hoping for better results this year.

On that subject, nearly every gardening website I’ve visited this year has said, sometimes in capital letters, to be careful not to grow more produce than your household will be able to eat, lest you have to foist some on the neighbors. Excuse me? If you don’t know neighbors who want the stuff, expand your notion of neighbors. Around here, for instance, several churches provide food baskets to poor people, or hold community dinners, or run soup kitchens. If you’re so protected you don’t know people in need, why not find someone who does?

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, go to Conversion Diary.

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I have been leading something of a double life lately. I have been making severe edits in a novel I wrote before I converted to Christianity. It was too long, and a bit too complicated. And did I mention that I wrote it before I converted to Christianity?

But I have also been pumping gas. I live in Oregon, which forbids self-service. (Oregon can be an extremely embarrassing place to live.) Oregon has also jacked the minimum wage and other costs of doing business to the point that a small gas station cannot afford to have employees during all hours of operation. (Did I mention that Oregon can be a difficult and embarrassing place to live?) We have a bookstore inside a gas station. We cannot afford to have people working for us like we used to be able to afford having people work for us. So I have been braving the weather and getting to know the ingenious designs of gas caps through the ages. This, of course, is not altogether a bad thing, not least because it keeps me from spending too much time just thinking.

Spending too much time just thinking makes it hard to think clearly, I have found.

I am, of course, not the only person to have noticed this.

For instance, Amanda Witt, and Matthew B. Crawford, have some things to say about the value of manual work.

The intellectual who has theorized himself into lala land – and expects the real world to adjust itself accordingly – seems to be a stock character from way back. Likewise, the foolish rich. Likewise… oh, you get the picture. Those who do not do, tend to expect reality to somehow bend when they want it to. (Just like their lackeys do, I guess.)

I like to garden. No matter what I do, I cannot get a seed to sprout before it’s ready. Water proves itself essential. Sun and shade have consequences. Seasons come and go. Whether I like it or not.

Oh, good. Reality doesn’t need mankind in general, or me in particular, to operate.

Considering how much trouble I have with some gas caps, this is probably a very good thing. 🙂

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… I sell books and pump gas. It’s good exercise. Trust me. 🙂

Whew. I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I’ve posted here. I’m filling in for an employee at our bookstore cum gas station, and I’m trying to get some more books ready to publish (I’ve self-published two already, and that’s working out all right), and our church observes Lent with extra services, and I’m participating in a weekly Bible study group, plus I’m doing research for future books, and I’m trying to do more volunteer work, and… the house is a mess, and I’m just not getting online. There doesn’t seem to be time for it just now. Well, no, more specifically, it’s way down the priority list right now, and I generally don’t make time for it. Sorry about that. To everything there is a season…

Speaking of seasons, right after I wrote in late February that we were getting hints of spring, we had a snowstorm. And another. And another. Etc. We’re having a respite, but I’m not at all sure winter is done with us yet.

But back to my opening point: Oregon being in contention for The Most Old-Maidish Nanny State Going, it is illegal to pump your own gas in this state. Oregon also being in contention for some sort of Anti-Economics Prize, it has raised the minimum wage and other costs of doing business to the point a small business like ours loses money if it hires people. Therefore, when one of our employees told us she was going out of town to visit a daughter who was expecting a baby, we decided it made far more sense for me to work her shifts than to hire somebody. And so I have been learning which muscles get used a lot in pumping gas for hours at a time, that don’t get used while sitting in a chair reading or typing on a laptop. Oh, well. It’s probably good for me. And the fresh air and sunshine are nice. And, so far at least, the blizzards have been bearable.

I am causing a bit of a stir, though, in that I pretty much live in skirts and dresses (I have a few pants, but rarely wear them), and so am pumping gas while wearing midi length, modest skirts. For some reason, quite a few people think this is odd. I think it’s practical, and comfortable, and no big deal. I figure people will get used to it.

For the record, I am wearing everyday skirts, and not ridiculously fancy ones, or anything that can’t be tossed in the washing machine just like a pair of jeans. In cold weather, I wear appropriate underlayers, as many as needed. I’m too old to worry about whether I’m as svelte as humanly possible. (And, besides, I’ve lost twenty pounds since last summer. Even with layers, I’m better than I was. Ahem.) Long johns can be hidden under thick knee socks or leggings, if the skirt doesn’t reach down to the footwear. There are ways, in other words, to make this work in cold weather.

I am ready for spring, though. Definitely.

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I don’t know about where you live, but in this part of Oregon the forecast suggests there might be lots of snow sometime in the next few days, enough snow that police have been trying to intercept elk hunters before they head into the hills, to warn them they might get snowed in if they aren’t careful.

People from outlying areas, especially those from higher up, have been swooping into town to stock up on groceries and other supplies. I’ll bet more than a few folks have been trying to dream up really good back-up plans for heating should the power go out.

But this is the American West. One thing about the hunters we tend to draw (most of our hunters drive in from elsewhere for the adventure) is that an uncommon number of them seem to appreciate anything that gives them the basis for a good tale to tell later. A snowstorm that gives them trouble but not permanent damage is likely to be thought a goodish sort of thing, or at least not entirely a bad thing.

A man who was proudly 80 years old was telling people at our bookstore-with-gas-station that he and his friends were heading out anyway, despite the prospect of more snow than we usually get in this part of the world. They had three elk permits, and a woodcutting permit, and even if they didn’t get elk, they were determined to get a truckload of firewood. They had enough food to last a while. Besides, he said, they had a snowmobile, so they could send out for help.

Considering that we have trained and experienced volunteers armed with snowmobiles who could go in and pick up stragglers, I guess that’s not too unreasonable, if you’re ready to deal with the snow, and don’t send for rescue if you don’t actually need it. Our rescuers include a few people who like stories to tell, too…

As for the residents, we’re a mixed lot around here. Some, as is the postmodern custom, will undoubtedly be whimpering that somebody ought to do something, and probably will shiver more from the supposed evidence of global warming than from the temperature (to many postmodernists, everything seems to point to global warming, and global warming is their bogeyman – and never mind that climates have fluctuated since pre-mankind, and all our ancestors somehow survived, including cavemen, for Pete’s sake… but I digress… On second thought, before I stop digressing, I would like to note that someone told me the other day that one of the local grade school teachers has been telling her class that ‘carbon dioxide from trees is good, but all other carbon dioxide is bad’. I am hoping that someday the children will learn that trees exude oxygen, and also that carbon dioxide doesn’t float about with certificates of origin attached, but pardon me if I quietly pound my head against a wall for a while.)

But, anyway, I’m proud to say that we still have our fair share of hearty stock. This is a part of the world where the early settlers tended to respond to deep snow by declaring time off from work and gathering for dances and fiddle fests, or holing up happily in cabins cut off from the world for a while. It is also a part of the world where one of the phrases of dismay is “we’re embarrassing our ancestors”. We like to at least try to hold our own with the past.

I am put in mind of an Ole and Lena joke: Ole and Lena were snowed in, twelve feet deep, up over the roof even. A week of this later, they hear a knock on the door. Ole opens the door to find that folks from the Red Cross have dug a tunnel to their house. “I gave at the office,” Ole says, as he closes the door in their faces. He turns to Lena. “I don’t know, Mama. I probably should have given them something, maybe? They must be really hard up to come out in weather like this.”

I love that joke.

I’m not entirely laughing at the prospect of a big storm, though. My husband is on supplemental oxygen, and if the power goes out we lose his oxygen concentrator. We have a back-up oxygen tank, but it wouldn’t last long. This is not to mention that all of our heating depends to some degree on electricity, since the oil stove won’t run without it (a serious design flaw, that). And I can look around and see neighbors who are every bit as much at the mercy of the electric supply as we are. And if somebody needs to go to the hospital, bad roads are not good. And so it goes.

Down here in our little t-shaped valley we usually get spared the snowfall that often blankets neighboring towns and the high country. I’m hoping we don’t have all that much snow and ice and cold to contend with. But I guess we’ll see…

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