Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding Our Superpower

My youngest granddaughter, Hunter, has a fascination with superheroes.   I know the crusaders from my youth: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but now there are armies of superheroes all with unusual skills and abilities.  I can't keep track of them.  Hunter can be counted on to remind me which ones are evil and which are the crusaders for good.  

Hunter is a prankster, and you can never tell when she is telling the truth or trying to fool you. Last time I was there, after watching her trick her father, I told her "Your superpower is lying.  You have to remember to use your power only for good."  Her sister, Megan, immediately asked me, "Nana, what's my superpower?"  We're still trying to figure out Megan's superpower.

I've had my new car for almost three months, but I'm still learning how all the fancy features work.  The first week I bought it my son and I drove to Walla Walla to see David Sedaris read from his latest work.  Halfway there a strange light on the dash came on.  I asked my son  to take out the manual and figure out what it was.  These new cars should come with secret decoder rings.  After 15 minutes of searching through the two inch thick book, my son exclaimed "All that is in this manual is stuff about the radio!"  

When we got to the theater, I found a second manual in the glove compartment; my son had been reading the audio manual.  In our third row seats waiting for the show to start, I discover that the blinking light was a flat tire warning.  Oops!

After the show we checked the tires.  None of them looked flat.  We drove home and once again the light came on 20 miles into our 40 mile journey.  The next morning I took the car to the tire store and they tell me that the sensors are notorious for giving false readings when it is freezing outside.

This week the spouse and I were driving through the freezing fog to Costco in Tri-Cities.  The flat tire warning light came on and the spouse asked what it was.  I told him about the flat tire light  and that it was like the little boy who cried wolf; I don't know whether to believe it or not.  

"I can't believe you can't tell when a tire is flat.  Can't you feel it in the wheel?  I can ALWAYS tell when a tire is flat...or even just a little low," the spouse says.

"I guess that's your superpower," I tell him.  "Hunter will be so excited that we've identified your superpower."  

I'd like to think that we all have superpowers and it's just a matter of identifying them.  I haven't found mine yet.  Have you found yours?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Sickness and in Health

I’ve been sick for the past five days; not I think I’m going to die sick, but just, I feel miserable sick.  I’ve slept 19 out of the past 24 hours.  I’m hacking up chunks of greenish-yellow phlegm and my throat hurts.  I’m tired of being sick and the spouse is tired of me being sick. 

“That’s what you get for hanging out with the homeless,” he tells me. 

Left without supervision, he manages to find trouble.  I spend the day sleeping, so he decides to figure out why he can’t get the Wi-Fi extender to work.  He wants Wi-Fi in his shop building so he doesn’t have the inconvenience of having to come into the house to use his I pad.  (He solved the not having a bathroom problem another way…just make sure you make a lot of noise approaching the back side of the shop so you don’t startle him “appreciating the outdoors.”)

From my sickbed on the living room couch, I hear him on the phone to tech support in India or Pakistan.

“I don’t understand what you’re asking me to do,” he yells into the phone, “I can’t hear you over the static.” 

This goes on for at least a half an hour with a few silent moments while he waits for Jagavi to call him back on another line.  After four tries they get a connection with less static.  “I don’t understand what you’re asking,” he yells again, “let me give you to my wife.”

He brings me the phone.  After teaching ESL students for many years, I am pretty good with accents, but I couldn’t understand Jagavi. I hand the phone back to my husband and he goes back to the office and continues the discussion.  After another 15 minutes I hear him thank Jagavi and finally hang up.  Unfortunately the story doesn’t end here. 

He decides to research the connectivity problem on the Internet.  As I start to doze again I hear his phone ring and he starts another conversation about the computer.  Ten minutes later he yells for me, “Quick, quick come here.  You’ve got to see this.  We’ve had 1,700 attempted hacks on our computer.”  He’d fallen for one of those phishing scams and now our computer was being hacked.

I tell him to unplug the computer and not to plug it back in.  We’ll eventually take it in to the computer repair and have it looked at….or just buy a new one.  The old one will never be hooked back up to the internet.  We realize our tax returns are stored on that old computer.  The next day I check with our banks and am reassured that our accounts are secure; I order new credit cards. 

I’m glad all that excitement is over.  I’m still working on getting my energy level back.  The weather has been nicer and the warming station for the homeless has been closed.  When I go back, I'll be compulsively washing my hands.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pinterest and the Promise of a Perfect Life!

There's something about the beginning of a new year that demands a fresh start.  Pinterest is filled with articles about organizing your life.  There are to do lists, and menu schedules, and calendars of cleaning and decluttering tasks that guarantee your life will be organized in anywhere from 30 to 365 days.  

I've been seduced by the Pinterest promise of an organized life. Not that I've done anything to create this new improved lifestyle, I've been too busy reading the posts about "How to be the Most Organized Person in the World," or "100 Gorgeous Burlap Projects That Will Beautify Your Life."  I am NOT kidding.  These are real posts!  (Full disclosure...I actually pinned the most organized person one.)

I haven't made resolutions, but I do admire people who are able to make and keep them.  I've never been able to.  I do, however, want to start this year by making some changes.  I need to prioritize my efforts and focus on what is most important to me.  I have come to realize that I miss the enforced structure of working.  I don't miss working, but I am not efficient with time because I don't have to be. Things don't get done because I can always do them tomorrow...or not at all.  I'll start walking tomorrow becomes not stepping outside the house for a week.   I do better with a routine.  So, my objective this month is to identify some weekly goals and develop a daily routine.  I'm going to give myself time every week to blog.  I hope it will once again become a habit and you'll see me post a little more regularly.  I might even update the "Welcome" message on the sidebar to reflect that I retired six years ago, not last year!

Happy New Year!  Have you set goals for this year?

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year and a Fresh Start

It has been several months since I last posted, but the new year is an opportunity to make a fresh start.  It is 1:00 A.M. and I am staffing the local warming station with another volunteer.  It was 17 degrees at midnight when I drove by the big temperature sign at the bank on my way here.  When the temperature gets below freezing, our community opens a storefront where homeless people can spend the night.  There are five "guests" sleeping soundly on mats at the other end of the room.   It's not a solution to the problem of homelessness, only a short-term measure on the worse days of winter  

It's easy for me to volunteer here.  During the late shift from 12:30 to 4:00 everyone is usually asleep and my anti-social tendencies aren't challenged.  Last week I worked the 7:00 to 12:30 shift and had to interact with the guests until lights out at 10:00.    I worried before I worked that night, but it was uneventful.  I even knew one of the guests from my teaching days.  We don't pry into their lives, but some share their stories.  Our job is to treat them with respect while they are here and offer the few comforts we have available...snacks, hot coffee, and a sleeping mat with clean sheets and a blanket. 

At the end of my shift I go home humbled and grateful for my many blessings.  The warming shelter closes at 7:00 A.M. and our guests will be back on the street.  It will still be below freezing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is Summer Over

Where has summer gone?  At some point I'll upload my photos and report on our adventures.

School started this week in Hermiston.  No, I'm not longing to go back to school.  When I drive by the high school, I am reminded that I am blessed to not have to work.  We went camping instead.  We took the RV and the boat to the John Day River.  We thought that since school had started, the crowds would have thinned out.  Quite the opposite, the campground was filled with giant motor homes flying American flags and sporting satellite TV receivers, our peer group, retired people, were there in force.  But out on the river we rarely saw another boat.  This morning we took the boat up-river to Tumwater Falls.  We were the only people there.  

I didn't take this picture; I forgot my camera.  I copied it from

The rocks are worn smooth from the river.  This time of year there isn't much water coming over the rocks.  The river goes on for miles above the falls, but this is as far as we can go in the boat.  

Heading back to camp we were alone in the beauty of Eastern Oregon.  We saw deer and lots of geese.  An osprey caught a fish in the middle of the river.  I am grateful for the beauty and the solitude.  We are fortunate in Oregon to have these public treasures, and I am blessed to have the time and resources to enjoy them.  It is  good to be retired!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Great Summer Road Trip

We're leaving this week on our first extended road trip in the RV.  Although we don't have a small yappy dog like many of our road tripping retired peers, we do have the appropriate wardrobe of casual wear so we can blend into the crowds.  I will not, however, be wearing socks with my sandals!

Those of you who have been following along know that every summer our grandchildren come to Oregon to stay with us.  This summer they will be with us until August.  We are leaving in the RV this week to drive from Oregon to South Dakota to pick them up.  Although they live in Texas, they are attending a family reunion in Iowa and for some reason my daughter decided that Mount Rushmore would be a good meeting point to hand them over to us.

Last week Hunter asked her mother why she and their father didn't spend more time with them in Oregon in the summer.  My daughter explained that although Hunter and her sister had the summer off from school, Mommy and Daddy still had to work.  To which Hunter replied with an astonished "WHAT??"

Yes, Hunter, the majority of the world still has to work.  The exceptions are kids and retired people.  One of the joys of retirement has been having the ability to spend time with my grandchildren who live far from Oregon in Texas.  We spend the summer camping, fishing, and exploring Oregon.  This summer we are venturing out on the open road.  In addition to Mount Rushmore we will visit Yellowstone.  We have no timeline and plan to stop whenever we see anything interesting.  Life is too short to waste a summer.  We'll be making memories on the road.  I hope we'll be able to find wifi and can post updates on our adventures.  

Be sure to wave if you see us on the road!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where Does The Fox Live?

A month ago my son saw a fox in the backyard.  It's always exciting to have a visit from wildlife.  Just this month we've had deer, osprey, and foxes visit us.  Two weeks ago the foxes moved in.  

Where does the fox live?  The whole family, two adults and four kits have established themselves under our garden shed.  The first week they moved in was rather exciting.  We enjoyed catching glimpses of them as they crossed the yard.  One evening we stood on our front porch and watched the kits play on the lawn.  While they are still elusive, they have grown accustomed to our coming and going.  Our foxes are not red, but have mottled coloring.  The state fish and game officer told us they are not indigenous to Oregon, but were brought here by someone hoping to raise them for their fur.  They escaped and are now growing in population.  There is a concern that cross breeding with the native fox population will damage the indigenous bloodline.

It's a growing family...and the kits have to eat.  The field in front of the shed is scattered with abandoned carcasses and feathers.  This morning I was on my hands and knees weeding the flower beds in front of the house, I glanced through the split rail fence and three feet in front of me was the carcass of a dead pheasant, the rib cage picked clean and glinting in the sun.  Last week there was a dead possum in front of the shed.  Every day there is at least one dead chicken and their feathers are everywhere.  We've asked our close neighbors if they are missing chickens, but apparently our foxes are hunting outside the neighborhood.

What started as an interesting sighting, isn't so much fun now...what with all the dead bodies and all.  The spouse filled in the holes to their den with dirt and concrete.  The state fish and game officer told us that would encourage them to move on.  It didn't.  They came home and dug new holes under the shed and brought more dead animals with them.

I worry about the quail that are nesting in the back garden.  I haven't seen the newly hatched chicks for several days.  They may have become appetizers for the foxes.  I hope we can encourage the foxes to leave before all our birds are gone.

I now know what the fox says...they bark like a dog, but only one short bark.
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