Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Welcome to Winter

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.  - Weatherman Phil Connors in "Groundhog Day."

In the natural world, we think of Spring as the season of revival.  In the unnatural world of hip joints fabricated by man of metals and ceramic, Winter 2015-2016 is my Spring.  With the support of family and friends, I greet every day with giddy excitement of what new things I can do today.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Almost Real Time

Dinner Plan
3 m ago: Asian markets dip on China data.

7 m ago: Another round of margaritas.

10 m ago:  Evil terrorist group absorbs rubble town into its caliphate. 

15 m ago: Ease into swimming pool overlooking the Bay of Banderas at Sunset.

1 h ago: Turkey’s strongman unleashes tear gas against opposition.

3 h ago:  Republican “leader” vows to thwart U.S. progress on immigration.

3 h ago:  Margaritas.

4h ago:  Report says 60 million people displaced because of war and persecution, most ever.

5 h ago: Absolutely delicious lunch served to us overlooking pool, which overlooks the Bay of Banderas.

6 h ago: Evil terrorist group brags it killed 224 people in Russian airplane crash.

7 h ago: Excellent massage eases my back and shoulder tightness.

7 h ago: 11 refugees, including 4 infants, drown off coast of Greece.

8 h ago:  Bright morning sunshine over Bay of Banderas. Delicioso Huevos Rancheros. 

Villa Pacifica, Bahia de Banderas

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn arrives.

Sunset in Tofino
9/21/15 8:48 PM

I like walking the city, when I can. 
Sunrise in Portland
(Click to enlarge any photo)

Best when sidewalks are empty:  a dark Monday night, for example, or first thing in the morning.  With fewer others to judge, I come more into view.

Carpe Summer expresses my gratitude for second chances to walk the Champs Elysees, hike in the forests, explore Istanbul and the many other good reasons to have functioning hip joints.  It became my contemporaneous memoir of some the highlights and some of the mundane.

I took walking for granted, again. 
Steamboat view toward Adams
Our mild winter blended into a brilliant spring into a hot, dry summer.  I enjoyed another very good summer to remember, despite my lack of journal entries. 

Simply driving to and from Trout Lake is a scenic treat that often fills the spirit.  The light plays with the topography and foliage in miraculous ways.  For example, a few Sundays ago, just after losing its pink and before rising above the marble cloud ceiling, the white morning light shot horizontally through a gap to highlight the top 1/3 of Mt. Hood with the precision of a stage spot.  I could not stop on the Hood River Bridge to capture that moment, just as I could not stop there to photograph the hundred colorful kites that filled The Gorge two days before, or heart-grabbing sunsets on past trips. 
Vancouver, BC

Bicycle Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Moments come and go.  I’ve got boxes of moments and computers full of moments and brain cells that remember a few, too.

Edgefield Concert

Some people are builders.  They build a business, a family, a structure . . . even empires.  Others are observers and collectors.  More like the butterfly than the flower.  Hopefully, we serve a purpose by touching enough people to keep the world moving in the right direction.

The season is changing.  Deciduous colors, shorter days, and cooler nights lead the way. 

I enter autumn with a renewed gratitude for blessings, including my (limited) ability to walk.  Every day now seems like

9/22/15 5:16:47 AM

Oh yeah,

Every day now seems like its own spring, summer and autumn:  My first steps out of bed range from annoying to excruciating.  If I were a litigation chiropractor, I’d ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how’s the pain?”  Really?  What the Hell is a 10?  A glowing red-orange branding iron on my cheek?  I don’t know what that means. 
Mt. Hood from Trout Lake 
Like the newly born fawn, I gimp a few steps.  I test the “start up pain,” which eases with some movement and time.  How long can I go without Advil?  Can I get by without it?  Is there a walk worth the side effects? 

180 degrees from last picture:  Mt. Adams
There IS always a worthwhile walk.  Today, the colors at Indian Heaven in the Gifford Pinchot Forest are thrilling, they say.  Walks around Portland energize me physically and either inspire me or agitate me, depending on whether I focus on the positive.  Physical labor is another good use of a hip joint:  pruning trees, moving rock, building a path:  endorphins, creativity, and immediate gratification that does not involve taste buds.
With the right dose, I walk erect and do not limp.  My pace is more deliberate, not mindlessly speeding along.  Constantly assessing:  am I doing okay?  Will the distance be too far?  Should I have pocketed a pill, in case?  I’m feeling good!

Joggers remind me that I have not jogged since 2007.  I do not miss it.  It’s a good thing, too.  Pounding is among the factors causing metal-on-metal hip joints to fail prematurely.  My device functions magnificently.  It’s my natural joint that’s down to the last 10%.  My surgeon now uses a ceramic-on-ceramic device.  I’ll research all that when I cannot manage.

Back to the season analogy.  I start rickety – we’ll say that’s the fragile green leaf.  I can get myself to feeling near normal (tree full of leaves), then, when I push too far or Advil’s therapeutic window closes, I need to sit.  Kinda sorta like the leaves falling from the tree signal the end of the vibrant time.  Then, I hibernate until those first steps the next day. 

9/23/15 7:33:19 AM

"Uncle Jeff's Kitchen"

Today is the equinox: ½ day, ½ night. 

I enter autumn knowing that the glass is way more than half-full.   

2015 unveiling

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Life is Good.

Monday, August 3, 2015

People, wine, food & history.

Oregon Map 1840s - Lady Hill Winery grape sources
Summer 2008 was crummy.  Work felt oppressive, and I’d lost my ability to walk, much.  Carpe Summer signaled my joyful anticipation of a fantastic summer with restored mobility.  It has been a great run, and this summer continues to roll along with many highlights, even as my mobility declines with my “other” hip.   Not much time for contemporaneous journaling.  So, I’ll try to catch up when I can, not in chronological order. 

I’ll continue with yesterday.

As a thank you for helping Jennifer and Jake as their attorney for three-plus years, they arranged dinner with their dear friends Jerry and Elaine at Lady Hill Winery. 

As much as Oregon has grown, with Portland continuing to explode, Oregon is still relatively intimate and young.  People we know trace their ancestors to people who came across in wagon trains or traversed Panama between the ship south and the ship north. 

Last night, we spent about five hours in a place of great history, with great people and great wine. 

In the 1840s, settlers gathered near the Willamette River by what is now Champoeg Park.  Among their fist orders of business was dealing with wolves eating livestock.   In 1843, they gathered to decide whether to declare their own nation or throw seek to join the U.K or the U.S.  Although Mexico was nearby (what is now the boarder of California), it did not make the cut. 

The two Frenchmen down the road made it 52 to 50, US over UK.  The story is, the French settler and his wife missed the boat out of there in 1820 and had to stick around.  Who knows how history might have changed if they’d shipped out.  Would we be part of Canada? 

In 1860, floods wiped out the town of Champoeg, and Mr. Zorn added more of the land to his holdings.  Jerry and Elaine Owen call their farm Lady Hill because very few boys have been born there over the years.  There were runs of, I believe, 13 girls in a row. They, themselves, had a ratio of 8 girls to 1 boy.  Tough to keep the same last name with that ratio.

The family gave a small plot of land to the state to commemorate history.  They sold a bit more.  Then, the state condemned even more for the park.  
In 2015, coyotes(not wolves) took 23 out of 25 lambs that Jerry and Elaine Owen and their children raised on their farm.  Last night, in their Ladyhill Winery, Jerry and Elaine shared with us what the coyotes did not take along with their sumptuous wines.

Ah, the farm life . . . .  For dessert, they brought out a plate of delicious and varied fruit from their own land.  What? No strawberries? 

No problem.  Send the kids out to pick a bowl of strawberries. 

Lovely people on a lovely night, in the heart and soul of Oregon Territory.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer starts in The West

Mt. Hood

The smaller part of Oregon is the Pacific Northwest: towering firs, pristine rivers, misty forests, and the vast ocean.  The rest is the West:  Wide open vistas, big sky, sagebrush and juniper where left alone, golden fields where not. 

I’ve missed the West.  I did not get there in 2014. 

On summer’s first day, I awakened in the West.  Bend is not exactly the Old West of John Wayne movie lore, but the location is right.  

Where are the cowboys?

Cowboys still work ranches and rodeos.  I do not see them hanging out in the saloons of Bend.  Rich old White people plus athletic and / or hip young people (slightly less White) patronize booze establishments.  Who herds cattle or performs other agricultural work in the area?  Whoever they are, they probably work too hard for too little money to spend it in the city center of sagebrush and juniper, and houses, and malls. 

We returned to Bend Thursday to see faux cowboy, Willie Nelson preceded by Alison Krause and Union Station.    

The grassy Les Schwab Amphitheater is a wonderful place to sit on a hot summer night.  The sound is good, and it feels intimate compared to big amphitheaters, such as Maryhill Winery.  We joined friends M and E.   As I gazed up at the pink jet trails just after sunset, I thought that life is pretty good, even though Willie’s act was . . . he’s doing great for age 82 with his classic old songs and a ludicrous new one . . .”Roll me up and smoke me, when I die.”  Let me guess his state of sobriety when he wrote that lyric . . . .  These days, Willie is more Jerry Garcia than outlaw cowboy.  

Later at M and E’s home, coyotes serenated us as we sat in the hot tub about 15 feet from acres and acres of sagebrush platted for another development.  No beans or fire at this campsite.

This morning I saddled into my 166 horsepower carriage, turned from the hitching post, and blasted toward the horizon.  The drive from Bend to The Dalles is big sky country, with long, undulating vistas that stretch hundreds of miles.  Some vistas soothe like the Pacific.  Others thrill with ancient geologic violence.

Still other times, I could almost see men on horseback, rounding up the cattle, and the movies’ Indians looking down from the tops of the buttes.  At The Dalles damn, I imagined real Native Americans gathered by the thousands, netting huge salmon, producing pemmican, gambling and living the life that sustained them for thousands of years. 

I know it’s all different.  Nevertheless, The West still inspires me with beauty, freedom, isolation, seemingly endless possibilities and wonder.
Mt. Adams