#267–Victorian Belles in 2020 . . .

I felt excited to be out in the world selling my books again. Last year between mid-October when my sister and I returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to DC and when I headed back to California to spend Christmas with family and friends seven weeks later, I did three PowerPoint programs and participated in two holiday craft shows. In fact, I was busy all year long with a similar schedule. This year, nada, zilch, nothing . . . until this weekend in late November.

I assembled my card rack and got my cards ready to go in preparation for the Christmas Bazaar.

It’s the Victorian Belles Christmas Bazaar at the events center at Three Rivers Casino on the edge of Florence. This group of talented folks started out as a dozen tole painters and has grown to encompass other types of arts and crafts such as jewelry, ornaments, and many other forms of Christmas décor. Three authors—Karen D. Nichols, Connie Bradley, and myself have been invited to participate year after year. Connie could not make it this year. For me it’s the 10th year to participate and the ninth for Karen. The Belles have been doing this for many years.

It is taking place Friday through Sunday. It’s a marathon for those of us participating. The hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. There are not as many members participating this year. I miss the crocheted and knitted hats, as well as the funky earrings and decorations made by another one of the members. I wore my funky earrings today that I got years ago. They are presents—one red and one green. They are just a little over the top, but I love ‘em!

My over-the-top holiday earrings.

I also miss the fellow and his family who have the produce concession at the Florence dock area in the summer. They have long been a part of this holiday show with their fresh produce and kettle corn. He also has special salsa, jams, and small pies. All of which I used to buy.

I would spend time checking out every table and display and buy a few gifts as well as some goodies for me. I’ll do my shopping tomorrow.

Yesterday, I spent an hour setting up and then almost an hour tying sets of two books with ribbon and fancy bows. I also tied bundles of three cards. These bundles sell at a reduced price and usually sell well and look festive. My first sale of the day was a bundle of bridge books.

Today folks couldn’t just come into the events center. They, as well as all of us participating in the holiday show, had to go through an identity and health check where a young man took your temperature and photo and checked your ID and made sure you were wearing a mask. It was the most thorough Covid check I’ve encountered since the outbreak began. Casino personnel were in and out of the holiday show all day. Some on a break looking for gifts and others checking to see that mask wearing and social distancing were being adhered to.

Not as many tables and not as many attendees but still a terrific event.

The first hour had a fair number of attendees but for several hours it was slow and the last hour very slow. I only sold five books, but at least three people said they would be back today. We’ll see!  Folks liked my cards but no buyers.

Typically, Saturday is the big day. But it’s more rigorous to enter this year, and there are social distancing markers all over the floor. I was glad to see folks all wearing masks and wearing them correctly.

Me with mask and earrings at my table with my cards and books.

I feel excited to be doing one of the events I most enjoy, but also feel guilty to be participating because this type of event is not being allowed right now in the state. The only reason it’s happening at the Casino is because it’s located on sovereign Indian land, which has its own rules. And I’m also a little apprehensive regarding the virus because I converse with lots of people and I’m a high-risk age. But the Casino’s entry health check is reassuring as is the fact that everyone is wearing a mask. So I’ll return on Saturday and enjoy the second day of the Victorian Belles Christmas Bazaar of 2020!

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#266–Grocery Shopping–pandemic style

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Checklist:

Bags to put groceries in––check!

Mask—check!

Nitrile gloves—check!

Grocery list—check!

Besides grocery list, you need bags, mask, and gloves!

Nowadays, when you go grocery shopping, besides the grocery list, you need a checklist. Steve Inskeep on NPR said the other day on the radio that stopping by the grocery store to pick up a few items is a much more complicated process than it used to be. He got that right!

Shopping early involves few shoppers and no lines to wait in.

Also, I will only go when there are the fewest people in the store. I set the alarm an hour earlier than I normally get up, which means a certain amount of planning ahead. The hours between 7 and 8 a.m., Monday through Thursday, are set aside for seniors. And since Florence is a tourist hotspot, weekends and mid-day any day are busy. So I go between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday. And there really are very few shoppers in the store.

Before I got into this habit last spring when the lockdown first hit, I, along with everyone else was out looking for sanitizing products, which were nowhere to be found. Then it was toilet paper’s turn to be the “missing product.” It was during my several week’s long search for TP that I discovered that if you arrive when the store opens at 7 a.m., you have a better chance of finding sanitizing products, toilet paper, and anything else that may be hard to find. And I discovered that very few people were in the store. I was hooked. This became my time to go grocery shopping. As we’re heading into winter, I’m going in a little later.

This is typical weekly shopping haul. And all of it gets sanitized before being put away.

Once the mask mandate came into being, most everyone started wearing masks. Then I started feeling safer when entering the grocery store. Now there are signs to wear masks and someone to remind you that you need a mask if you forget. Since I am no longer young, I fall into a high-risk group. I have friends my age who have their groceries delivered. They wouldn’t dream of going grocery shopping themselves. I don’t want someone else shopping for me I want to do it myself as long as I feel safe.

And when I get home, I don’t just put everything away right away. I don’t park everything in the garage for three days like some people. But I do sanitize every item except produce, and the fresh produce gets washed with soapy water. Some people put a few drops of bleach in their wash water with the produce—I don’t do that.

Freshly washed produce has been rolled in a towel to dry thoroughly before being put in plastic bags and placed in the fridge.

Also, I used to go to the store more than once a week. I never went for just one item, but I’d go when I needed a few. And I’d go whenever I wanted to. Now, I go once a week and usually the same time. If I have an appointment on Friday morning, I’ll go on Thursday or Saturday, but I stick to going early and once a week.

During the week, I write down items that are getting low or running out. And I go online and “clip” digital coupons. I also check the paper and when what I want is on sale, I add them to the list. Overall, I’m a more efficient shopper, and I’m saving money. So when the virus is over, I’ll try to stick to the same routine. Perhaps, some aspects of grocery shopping pandemic style are not such a bad thing after all.

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#265––Surviving election week . . .

A pandemic is still part of our lives, and at this point in time, it’s worse than ever all over the country, all over the world. I still stay home and have had no social life except with folks who come and work for me, like Todd my yard man, and chatting with my neighbors. I go out early in the week to run errands and try to do most of them in one trip. Later in the week, I make my early morning grocery run.

Off to my once-a-week grocery run with my bags, gloves, and mask.

I do see folks briefly—some from other parts of Oregon and from other states—when I am on duty as the clerk behind the counter at Backstreet Gallery a few times a month since July and just these last three weekends as a docent on duty at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. It has just recently reopened.

At each location, everyone is required to wear a mask and at the gallery to use hand sanitizer as they enter. There are also vinyl separators between me and visitors as long as I stay at the counter. I use the sanitizer a lot and spray the counter between customers. And we encourage social distancing. If more than 10 are inside at the gallery, I’m to shut the door and not let anyone else in until someone leaves. The Gallery and Museum are the riskiest activities I engage in, but I enjoy the social interaction of conversing with the customers and visitors. I seem to crave it, after being home alone so much.

Back to their brass color. So much better!!

Change of subject. No matter how positive I tried to be when I looked at my newly spray-painted brass cranes and duck, they looked like they had been dipped in mud—not the brass look they had before. I should have gone to TrueValue where I had bought the original paint instead of getting something similar when I was doing my grocery shopping. So last  week, I took my can of left-over spray paint from five years ago to TrueValue, and got the exact same paint and redid them this past weekend. Now they have the wonderful brass look they had before, and I’m a happy camper.

Monday

This week, election week, I’ll be a happy camper if Biden wins. I have friends and acquaintances who will be happy only if Trump wins. I have tried arguing various points, but mostly we’ve agreed to disagree. That way, we remain friends.

I firmly believe that Trump is a threat to our country, has handled the pandemic badly, and is a man of very questionable character. I find it hard to believe that anyone would vote for him. But others feel equally strong for him.

My Biden-Harris yard sign!

I have a sign in my yard for Biden/Harris and within 100 feet is a sign for Trump. I’ll keep it there until I know who wins.

ELECTION DAY

It’s a gray day with wind and rain expected later. Don’t know if that’s an omen or not! I plan to get stuff done this morning, soak in the walk-in tub this afternoon to de-stress before turning on the TV at 6 p.m. to watch PBS election coverage. Whew! This day has finally arrived! I sooooo hope Biden is ahead when the day ends.

Well, the rain began early, I didn’t soak in the tub, and Biden wasn’t ahead when the day ended. I discovered that election coverage began on the radio at 4 p.m. and made the mistake of tuning in. I was glued to the radio instead of soaking in the tub. I can’t just sit and listen, so I started on my T-shirt project while I listened.

Loved the sayings but not the fit. I thought they were too long, too big around, and the sleeves too short.

This may sound crazy, but I love the messages on four T-shirts that I have but dislike the way they fit. They are too big, too long, and the sleeves too short. Soooo . . . I figured that I could cut off three inches and hem them. Then I could use the excess fabric to lengthen the sleeves. I will also take in the sides. Since I no longer have a sewing machine, it will take forever to make these alterations by hand. But it gives me something to do while I listen to the election coverage. I’m a Type A; I can’t just sit! Today I figured out exactly how I would do it and got one shirt cut, pinned, and ready to sew.

At 6 p.m., I switched to TV and watched PBS’s election coverage, while fixing and eating dinner. I watched until after Biden spoke shortly after 9:30. He was confident and said that the vote counting was continuing as it should because of all the additional mail-in voters due to Covid. He said that It was okay that there was not a decision reached on election day. And to be patient.

It was not a slam-dunk for either one. Although, Biden had more electoral votes when I turned off the TV shortly before 10 p.m., it seemed as though all the battleground states were still going for Trump. But the early votes still needed to be counted, so the suspense continues.

All cut, pinned, and ready to sew. As an editor, this is my favorite shirt, but I have to be careful where I wear it! Everyone won’t think it’s funny!

In the middle of the night, I awoke and turned on the radio and heard Trump declaring himself the winner, even though all the votes have not been counted. Thought i was dreaming, before I realized it could be a real life nightmare!

Wednesday

It’s a cliff hanger between Biden and Trump. The counting continues, so I’ll check in again tonight. Nearly every candidate or measure I voted for was winning. It was DeFazio and Merkely on the national level, and in Oregon, challenger Shamia Fagan for Secretary of State and incumbent Ellen Rosenbloom for Attorney General both won.  And all four measures seem to be passing. I was also pleased to hear that nearly all bond measures for schools and libraries mostly in the Willamette Valley seemed to be ahead.

During the evening, I listened to an hour of election update on NPR and felt better. Biden was within six of reaching 270 for the Electoral College!!! Any of the states left—Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, or Nevada––will put him over. But, of course, Trump is pulling out all stops, filing lawsuit after lawsuit in all the battleground states that now have Biden ahead. Even while the count is continuing, he has declared himself winner and is bashing the election process––totally unacceptable but not surprising. So the saga continues.

I like the fit better, and this is another favorite. It says, “I do all my own stunts, BUT NEVER intentionally!”

As to the T-shirts, I got one finished and another ready to sew.

Thursday

The same states are still a toss-up. And now Arizona, which had been called as going for Biden, is now trending toward Trump. Biden continues to tell everyone to be patient as the vote counting continues, and Trump continues to file lawsuits and bash the voting process. One is behaving presidential, and it’s not the President. Should know more tomorrow.

Today I finished two shirts, and two are ready to sew. Will finish the last two tomorrow or this weekend for sure. Sure glad I had something to work on while listening to the election coverage.  

Friday

The good news is that Biden is now ahead in Pennsylvania and ever so slightly in Georgia too. The bad news is that Trump is spewing ever more lies, no doubt, setting himself up to be the victim—not the loser. By Friday afternoon, there’s no decision, but it seems more and more likely that Biden will prevail. I sure hope so. It’s certainly been a rollercoaster week! Hang on everyone; the ride isn’t over!

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#264–Walking Circles in the Sand . . .

My friend Carole said Circles in the Sand was Sunday. I thought it was Saturday, so I changed it on the calendar. I had marked it months ago and only remembered that someone had told me about it. Later Carole let me know that I had been right, that it was Saturday after all. I almost missed it again.

A few years ago, when my sister was visiting, we went to Bandon particularly to see Circles in the Sand but were too late. So late that the labyrinth had already been washed away by the waves.

This was the third year for Circles in the Sand to come to Florence, but I had been gone the last two years at the time they were here. So I was really looking forward to finally seeing it this year.

The Circles in the Sand form a giant labyrinth for people to walk.

For years, Bandon has had Circles in the Sand labyrinth events. It has become part of the Bandon experience. Denny Dyke is the originator and artistic genius behind each event and has a talented crew that he works with. Normally, Dyke selects a starting point from which the Dedication Circle begins and then swirls extend outward. They lead to hubs that are all designed differently. Dyke determines the route each takes and the team designs each hub. In the design, some use only sand and others add shells, stones, etc. After the design is determined, the sand is raked to differentiate the paths.

Folks can watch the labyrinth being created but are asked to only watch until it is completed. Then the walking begins. But first, Dyke says a few words, which usually have to do with appreciating the beauty and bounty of planet Earth.

The Circles in the Sand labyrinth was elongated to make it easier for people to social distance.

Because of the Covid-19 virus, the group had been on hiatus and had serious concerns about coming to Florence. Dyke determined that his usual round circle to start from was not such a good idea. He decided to stretch the labyrinth, to elongate it. The paths would be narrower, making it less crowded. This would make it easier for folks to social distance. Once this decision was made, they decided to come to Florence.

Dyke does not plan ahead except for knowing the tides. And that this one would be elongated. He creates each unique labyrinth directly on the sand; there are no rolled up plans to refer to. In Florence, the event was held at Heceta Beach on the sand in front of Driftwood Shores Resort.  

And I think there were three or four actual labyrinths to walk that covered nearly a quarter mile. It was really elongated.

Saturday, October 17, was not only the date of Circles in the Sand, but of the opening of the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum from noon to 4 p.m. It was the first time to be open since mid-February, and I was on duty as a docent. Because the Circles in the Sand walking portion was slated to begin about 5 p.m., it would work out for me to be a part of both. So I put a warm jacket and different shoes in the car before I left for the Museum.

Some designs were decorated with shells, rocks, and other stuff.

The Museum had a good turnout for the first day back, and I was able to lock up by 4:30 p.m. As I got closer to Driftwood Shores, I noticed cars parking everywhere. But I continued on heading to the little County Park parking lot. It was bumper to bumper, going 5 mph. Every spot was taken. It was just sinking in that I was going to have to follow traffic all the way back to find a spot and walk about half a mile or more. But then a car pulled out right in front of me, leaving an open spot. I didn’t hesitate, just pulled right in. Lucky, lucky, lucky! I only had to walk a short distance to the beach.

The sun was heading for the horizon and the shadows were long. And there were at least a couple hundred people, but because the labyrinths were so elongated, people were spread out. It was not crowded anywhere.

Some designs were elegant perfection using only sand.

I did a no-no by entering at a narrow spot and stepping over the raked sand to the path within. Every few steps was something of interest. Some hubs were decorated and some elegant, intricate designs just using the sand and others were whimsical drawings, such as a couple of octopuses.

And others were drawings of creatures like this octopus!

The concept of mindful walking is a central concept of Circles in the Sand. After a bit, I settled into a peaceful revery. I had to be careful, though, not to bump into folks ahead of me. Every few minutes someone would stop to take a photo—including me.

If I could change anything, it would be the wind. It was strong right on the beach but only a breeze in the parking lot. I wished I had brought a hat because my ears got very cold.

It wasn’t long before I came to the end. And nearby, I saw the proper way to enter with a person in a beach chair welcoming each person or group and answering any questions. So I entered and saw the rest of that particular labyrinth and redid the last third of it.

Walking at sunset––a magical time!

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the artwork up close. I marveled at how perfect some of the designs were. I laughed at the whimsical ones. I enjoyed the camaraderie that existed between me and the groups I was walking with (six feet apart). And it was almost sunset, a magical time. It wasn’t the quiet contemplation found when walking a garden labyrinth by yourself, but it was profound in its own way. I’m very glad I went.

Note: To learn more about Circles in the Sand, check out http://www.sandypathbandon.com.

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#263–Fun with unusual painting jobs . . .

I had two relatively easy painting jobs lined up and had a couple of dry, non-windy days to work on them. Although, as I was finishing up awhile ago, it started misting, which soon turned to drizzle. So the second day was almost dry all day. This time of year, that’s all we can hope for.

This is mid-day, but all light is blocked with my crazy quilt covering. This enabled me to see what I was doing when I painted the door.

Garage side door

When I painted the side door to the garage a couple of weeks ago, I did the outside and it turned out great. I could see every detail while I was painting, and I was adding another coat of the same color. I also painted the inside of the door that same day––or tried to.  The door has a window, and with the sunlight coming in, it blinded me to really seeing what I was doing. I painted it, anyway, but it definitely was not my best work. And I was covering up a different color. So for more than one reason, it needed a second coat.

I decided to do it after dark. No light coming through the window then. But when I thought it through, I decided not such a good idea. I would need to leave the door open part way for a few hours for the paint to dry, and I did not want to do that after dark. So I decided to cover the window and then paint the door.

I had just gone to the dump the day before and had no old newspaper or flattened cardboard to use. So I used a smallish piece of cardboard that I use to cover the driveway drain empty point when I am sweeping out the drain, and I borrowed a few paper bags from my bag of bags. Then I got my trusty blue masking tape and went to work.

I had to stand on a stool to reach the top.

It took awhile but I got every bit of the window covered. I used a ton of tape—especially on the backsides. Everything was still up long after I was through painting. Even though it looked like a crazy quilt of sorts, it worked; it kept the sunlight out. It would win no awards for beauty, or anything else, but it was fun to figure out a way to get the window covered to totally block the light.

When I got started on the painting, it was wonderful to see what I was doing. I was really pleased with how it turned out, and it still looked great the next morning. Since it was totally dry, I took out my crazy quilt window covering and put the curtain back up.

Brass Yard Critters

f loved the blue/green patina when they were new.

I have two cranes and a duck, which I bought the summer of 2008. They were not cheap, even though they were on sale. I loved them––especially their blue/green patina. Within a few years, it started flaking off. I was very disappointed.

I spray-painted them with a brass color in 2015 that I didn’t like as well but got used to. Again, they looked good for a few years before the flaking started again.

This is their new brass color in 2015.

Now, it was time for another coat. I got out my can of spray paint left over from 2015. It was not going to be enough, but I got them ready anyway.

I flaked off all the patina that was loose. Then I brought them in the house and gave them a bath. What a hoot to see each of them in the soapy water. When I was drying the tallest crane, the phone rang. When I came back, it was such a funny sight to see the towel draped over the crane, I just had to take a photo.

This morning when I was doing my early Friday morning grocery run at Fred Meyer, I checked the spray paints and got the closest to what I had. Not exact but should work.

After the bath. All three had a bath.

After sanitizing the groceries and washing the produce, I got ready to paint. I pulled my car out of the garage, spread an old sheet, and the few pieces of newspaper with ads that I got at Freddies. Then I pulled out some paper bags to put under the duck. I got out my large cardboard that a six-foot table came in. I use it to block the spray from getting all over everything whenever I spray paint. Today, I simply moved it from critter to critter when it was their turn.

Waiting at the door. You can see where some of the patina has flaked off.

It didn’t take long, thank goodness. The fumes were bad, even though I had the garage door partially open. When I finished, I opened it all the way and got a fan going to disperse the fumes. Within a couple of hours, the critters were dry. I put them aside and brought in the car. They look a lot better than they did, and I think the color will work. After a couple of days, I’ll put them back in the yard.

Looking good again. In a couple days, they will be back in the yard having fun.

These two painting projects turned out to be more fun than I thought. I seem to be painting, staining, lacquering everything in sight. That must be what happens when your normal life stops and you’re home most days. Hmm! What should I paint next? . . .

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#262–A strange day . . .

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Last Monday wasn’t normal from the get-go. Instead of taking the time for breakfast, I just had a small container of yogurt. Then when I headed out of the house to my car to deliver three dining room chairs to be reupholstered, I didn’t make it to my car for a half hour. This was when the first of two strange things caught my attention.

The tree limb was about 18-20 feet long with lots of branching.

There was a giant tree limb down in the driveway that Carole, my renter downstairs, uses. It was mostly dead. She always backs in and the limb was between her car and the mailbox. It was about 18-20 feet long with lots of branching. I’ve never seen such a large limb come down from one of my trees. The trees where it came from were worked on earlier this year. I wonder if that had anything to do with it. I’m glad it didn’t hit Carole’s car; it would’ve caused damage.

As it turned out, Carole had gone out to the garage she uses about 10 p.m. the night before to get something. And she heard the crash when the huge limb came down. She went out in the storm to see what had just happened and was very grateful it had not hit her car. And she was grateful to see that someone had cleared it away when she headed for work the next morning.

My trusty Christmas tree cutting saw.

I cleared it away. I got my Christmas tree cutting saw from the garage and sawed off about six branches before I could move it. Where it broke off from the tree, it was about five inches thick. With many of the smaller branches cut off, I could handle it.  I carried a couple of loads of branches to my debris pile and then drug the remaining big limb to the same place. I’m glad it wasn’t any larger.

These are the trees that the huge limb came out of.

Then I headed for my car and into town. After dropping off the chairs, I went to the eye clinic. I had been there last Friday for my every other year eye appointment. Good news! I don’t need new glasses. Bad news! Both eyes are almost ready for cataract surgery, which I’ll schedule for next year.

After the appointment, I went home with my cool, stylish wrap arounds under my regular glasses, since I had had my eyes dilated. When I pulled into the garage and stopped, my glasses fell into my lap with one handle still on my ear. They had just come apart after seeing the eye doctor. How ironic is that!

So I collected both parts, put them in my pocket, and went in the house. I called the eye clinic and told them that my glasses had just broken. They asked if they were really broken or had just come apart. I checked and they had just come apart. So they said to bring them in Monday.

I also discovered that no screws were missing cause no screws were used. However, I saw two tiny prongs and poked them in. The glasses appeared to be fixed; I wore them all weekend with no problems.

These are the glasses that fell apart.

On Monday morning, after the stop at the upholsterer, I stopped by the eye clinic and the gal said I had done a good job of putting them back together. She tightened everything and fitted them to me better because they had been sliding down my nose the past few months. Now, I won’t be constantly adjusting them.

Here’s the second strange thing: After my two appointments, I pulled into the garage and the low tire pressure message appeared. It hadn’t appeared before. One tire looked a little soft, and the other three looked fine. I figured that later I would go to Les Schwab. Right then I was hungry and wanted more breakfast. I fixed it, ate, and then became quite sleepy. I hadn’t slept much the night before. So I lay down for a nap and actually slept for a couple of hours.

It had been quite stormy with terrific winds most of the night. So after I got up from my nap, I swept all the tree debris off the deck and balcony and the driveway. Then I picked up downed branches in the front. None were very big, but there were lots of them. 

One of the tires that looked just fine a few hours earlier was now totally flat.

That was when I finally checked my tires again about 3:30 p.m. Surprise, surprise, one was totally flat. And it was one of the ones that looked fine before. I called AAA. They said they could be there in an hour. So I went out and emptied my trunk to make it easier to get to the spare.

When the tow truck driver arrived, I told him the story and he said that it sounded like a slow leak. He suggested that he fill the flat tire with air and if it held, he would follow me to Les Schwab. That made sense to  me, so that’s what we did. The guys at Les Schwab discovered that it was a fairly large piece of metal that had punctured the tire. And it had done enough damage that I needed a new tire. So now, I have a new tire.

Who knew when the day started that I would have to deal with a huge downed limb in the morning and a flat tire in the afternoon!  Neither were on my daily to-do list. . . . You just never know what the day’s going to bring!

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#261–Frenzied Fall Fixups . . .

Notes:

  1. To buy books or cards, check menu bar above.
  2. Sir Groucho is back to normal—thank goodness! Confirmed by lab tests today.
  3. The Florence Festival of Books dates for 2021 are September 17–18.

It is fall. It is October. There are only a few days left before the rains begin. Listen. You can hear blowers cleaning off roofs and cleaning out roof drains. You can hear chain saws and other kinds of saws as well as drills too. You can hear the clank of metal ladders being moved around houses up the hill and down the road. All this frenzied activity is to get as much done as possible before the rains begin.

I live in a wooded area with a number of tall trees in my yard. After the wind storms of the first three weeks of September, every inch of my yard in the front and on the east side were covered with tree debris especially around the redwood as well as the driveway. I got the driveway cleaned up, but the rest had to wait. There were a couple of wet weeks, which really helped the firefighters throughout the state.

The front door is very sheltered, but the steps showed lots of wear as did the porch before I re-stained them.

Once the weather improved, I spent most of a week cleaning up the yard. I had three large tarp loads of branches that I had picked up. I drug each load over to my upper debris area. Too heavy to lift. Then I raked about 25 piles in the front and the same amount on the east slope. I was able to load about three piles at a time into a carrier that I carried to the debris areas.

The yard work took place last week. This week, I concentrated on using my paintbrush. On Sunday, I stepped out of the front door and stained the porch and steps leading up to the house. They get a lot of wear and need to be done every few years.  With the front door blocked off by wet stain, I wisely left a sliding glass door off the dining room unlocked, so I could get back in. Once long ago, I didn’t. Lesson learned. I roped off the steps and put up a “wet paint” sign.

I got out my “classic burgundy” this is the color of doors to the garage and basement, the gates and fencing on both sides of the house, and the mailbox post. They all needed a new coat. And I wanted to stain the posts and railings that were put in on the east slope and down below two years ago. They were still raw wood. I have asked Todd, my yard man, to clean and then re-stain the fences and gates. I just don’t think I’ll have the time.

The garage side door looks much better.

On Monday. I taped around the window in the garage door on both sides. The front side was already red, so it covered beautifully. But the back side will need a second coat because it had been tan. Since the brightness from the window partially blinded me to seeing what I was painting on the inside, I will do the second coat in the evening soon. I also handwashed the curtain. It dried overnight and I was able to put it back up the next morning. The whole door looked so much better.

After lunch I scrubbed the mailbox, which really needed it. Then I had to trim away some of the salal before painting the post. It too looks better.

While I was working on the mailbox, Todd came by. He took his blower and climbed up on the roof to blow it off and clean out the drains. This would be the first time to blow off my new roof, but, boy of boy, the wind was incredible for hours Labor Day night and into the next day. That was the same east wind that propelled those destructive fires.  No fires here, just lots of tree debris everywhere including the roof and drains. Todd spent a lot of time up there. Later he blew off all the gravel areas. It looks much better.

Looks almost brand new!

Meanwhile I moved around to the eastside to paint the upper railing. It is a fairly steep slope. I did fine on the railings and on three sides of the posts. Doing the backsides of the posts I was no longer on the steps and had to really work to keep my balance. Twice I had to dodge stuff flying my way from the blower on the roof. Finally, Todd saw me and apologized. I also had to remove debris from where I had just painted.

On Tuesday, I had errands in town in the morning. So didn’t get started until after lunch. I grabbed my “classic burgundy” and paintbrush and headed for the lower, longer railing. It is not quite as steep, but I still had to be careful doing the backsides of the posts. Then I gave the upper railing a second coat. The second coat made such a difference. I love it. The longer railing will need a second coat also. Hope the weather holds.

Dang! Wednesday had drippy, close-in fog. Yuck! Couldn’t stain railings, so I worked on the front door. It’s sheltered from the drippy weather. But first, I had to go into town to get more “classic burgundy” and more clear gloss lacquer. I had ordered them days earlier.

Upper railing is shorter but steeper. In the background some of the gates and fencing that also need to be cleaned and re-stained. I depend on both the upper and lower railings to get down below.

It had been five years, since I last worked on the front door. So I did a fair amount of sanding, which meant, I had a lot of grit to clean off. Then I had to touch up with walnut rubbing stain. After that, I took a break for lunch before applying the lacquer. It is sooooo hard to keep it from running down corners and to keep whole sections from sagging. It’s best to do the door flat.

Back in 2009, I had a replacement front door for a week, while I put the actual front door on a table in the garage under great light. Then I took a rotary sander and got all but the inner sections sanded down to bare wood. I had never used a rotary sander before and learned (the hard way) to never pause with it still running. If you look closely, the door no longer looks like it came from a factory. There are dips and such that give it an artisan quality. At least, that’s what I call it.

The lower railing is longer but less steep and needs a second coat. These four tiers of flowerbeds of perennials are mostly ready for winter. I have the top row to do and to prune back the llithodora on the third tier that needs pruning at least twice a year.

I then cleaned it really well and re-stained it. Then I got up early one morning and applied a coat of lacquer before breakfast. Let it wait two hours. Then applied a second coat and waited two hours and then applied a third.  When the door is flat, the lacquer doesn’t run. It is sooooo much easier. And the door was gorgeous! In a few years, I’ll try the replacement plan again.

I had to leave the front door open part way for the door to dry without sticking, and I have a cat that I do not let out. So I put everything I could easily find to prop it open and not allow Groucho to get out. It looked crazy, it looked jury-rigged, but it worked.

This oddball collection of stuff kept the door partially open so it could dry without sticking and kept Groucho inside.

Thursday was another drippy, close-in foggy day. I was able to paint the door to the basement because it is under the upper deck and protected. I had cleaned it thoroughly a few days before. It looks so much better. The gravel gets rained on and splatters all over it, making it look terrible. So this morning while at Freddies grocery shopping, I bought a large enough welcome mat to put in front, so the rain won’t spatter it. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it works.

Then I took the brush I used on the front door out of its plastic bag where I had it sealed to keep it from drying out. Because it was too wet to go outside, I did an indoor painting job that I’d been meaning to do for months. I spread lots of newspapers and then sanded lightly, cleaned, and then gave a second coat to the wooden trim in the kitchen/dining room counter and both bathrooms. Because it was three different places, it took some time. I had to move furniture and put up barriers to keep Groucho off the countertops in the bedroom and kitchen.

Back in June, I hired a friend who is good with wood, to refurbish all this wood trim. After 38 years of wear, it looked awful. He sanded and re-stained and put a coat of lacquer on all of it. Then he said that I could put on a second coat whenever I wanted. The only problem was that he used semi-gloss, and I used gloss. I didn’t even realize it until I was half through with the kitchen and wondered why it was so much shinier. Duh! Actually, I like it better in all three areas.

The door to the basement has a fresh coat of stain plus a new mat to keep the rain from hitting the gravel and spattering it.

The drippiness had stopped, but it was too wet and too late to do any staining. So I went outside and weeded and pruned until dark. I also want to get those chores done down below before the rains hit. Basically, I cleaned up the beds and prepared the perennials for winter. And I’m about half done.

So I’m thoroughly caught up in the annual ritual of frenzied fall fixups, and I’m loving getting things done, of crossing things off my list.

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#260–Reckonings . . .

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I’ve been thinking about two subjects this week. First, an update on Groucho, and second, the Florence Festival of Books, scheduled this year for September 18-19, but cancelled due to Covid-19.

Groucho

When I went to pick up Groucho last Friday, September 25, Dr. Barstow said that if he continued to have trouble urinating to take him to the Emergency Animal Hospital in Springfield that is open 24/7. She had just removed the catheter. She also injected him with a long-lasting antibiotic, when she realized what a wild cat he becomes when you try to put anything in his mouth. With assistance, they had tried to give him the Amoxicillin that I was to give every 12 hours for two weeks, and he wouldn’t let them! (I don’t think they ever believed me when I said that Groucho and I don’t do his medicine by mouth. I took a month getting over an infected puncture wound that he gave me once.)

He is just a love until you try to administer medication by mouth. Then he turns into a wild cat.

After I got him home, he tried over and over and over to urinate and couldn’t. I got the directions to the animal hospital, but it was raining and I don’t do well going long distances with the glare of headlights and rain. So I was very relieved when at 11 p.m., he finally urinated and pooped.

The next few days were like riding a roller-coaster. Some days he seemed to be doing okay and others he had trouble. Tuesday and Wednesday he urinated totally normal. Then today the pee balls started getting smaller. Last Sunday was the start of a new problem. His new antibiotic caused his poop to become very soft. He has stepped in it and tracked it around; then he got it on his fur and spread it wherever he sat. Lots and lots of clean up.  The vet gave me some probiotic to make his poop firmer, and it seems to be working. Next Friday, I’m to take in a urine sample. So we’ll see!   

Groucho has lived a long life, and I realize that this may be the beginning of the end. If it clears up and is no longer a problem, I’ll be thrilled. If not, then I’ll not put him through endless painful cycles. I’m trying to get myself in the frame of mind to let him go, if we (the vet and I) feel that it is for the best. This is not easy!

Florence Festival of Books

For the past nine years, the Florence Festival of Books took place on the last weekend in September, which would have been last weekend. Although, this year the FEC asked us if we would have it the weekend before because of a big convention coming to town. So we were bumped. As it turned out Covid-19 bumped everything. I got to thinking about and missing the FFOB.

Here I am with Dick Smith and my publisher, Bob Serra, in 2011 when Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges first came out.

I blame Dick Smith, one of Florence’s most respected citizens, for turning me into an author and for starting the Florence Festival of Books.

Dick asked me to put his research on the historic coastal bridges into a book. After a couple of years of asking, I finally said yes. It was just before I retired from working for 21 years at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.  When I finally figured out how to organize his research, I discovered that I would need to do even more. As it turned out, the resulting book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, took a year of working all day every day. Then that book led to another and then another. Without Dick’s prodding, I would never have written the first one.

Because I had a book to sell, I started going to book fairs with Connie Bradley, who had also written a book. One day, Connie and I were talking about all the things that we would change if we were putting on a book fair and Dick Smith was right there listening. Without Connie or I knowing it, Dick went to the Florence Events Center and talked to Kevin Rhodes, the director. They thought the book fair was a great idea and put it on the calendar for the end of September. Then the next day, Dick called me and said he and Kevin thought Connie and I would be great co-chairs for the new book fair. I called Connie, and after we got over the shock, we put Dick and Kevin on the committee.

This was taken at the fifth FFOB in 2015 of me with Dick and co-founder Connie Bradley.

We didn’t know what we were doing, but Tara, the gal who was the outreach person at the events center then did. She and Kevin were at every meeting of the committee the first two years and helped us get it figured out. Mostly Tara was the one who knew how to deal with applications and publicity and advertising. As to funding, Connie and I got on the phone and within an hour, we had sponsors willing to pony up $600. (Now we have a much larger budget and received $7,000 from our sponsors in 2019. Who knew!)

We figured maybe 20 authors would show up the first year. So Kevin planned for one section of the flat floor for the book fair. Soon there were 40 and before long 60. We ended up with all five sections of the flat floor. It was a success from the get-go.

The committee decided to add additional activities. About the third year, we tried having the participating writers who paid extra for the privilege read from their books in a special area. We had them on a schedule that was announced over a loudspeaker and posted on the wall. The reader’s area was right next to the participants tables and it was just too noisy and very few attendees sat down to listen So the next year, we moved the reading area to the stage and had a terrific set-up with no noise interference, but very few attendees showed up to hear the authors read from their books. By then the reading schedule had been in the newspaper, in the program handed to each attendee as they arrived, posted on the wall, and announced over a PA system. After three years and few folks listening to each writer, we gave up.

Here is committee member Ellen Gunderson Traylor with New York Times bestselling author and Keynote Speaker Philip Margolin in 2016.

We started having keynote speakers on Friday evening starting in 2014. We had Jane Kirkpatrick, Phillip Margolin, John Daniel, Amy Stewart, and Bob Welch––all fabulous. This year we had Melody Carlson scheduled. She is one of America’s most prolific romance writers with more than 200 books to her credit who just happens to live in Oregon. And she is willing to wait until 2021 to be our Keynoter.

We also started having panel discussions on Friday afternoons about the fifth year. Not only was the panel on the main stage, but so was the audience. We’d set up about 50 chairs. The panels covered various aspects of writing or publishing. All have had good crowds–sometimes standing room only.

During my nine years working with the FFOB, I learned how to put together 30-second spots for the radio. The first year, I worked with Callista Cates at KCST for more than an hour to get two recorded. The past couple of years, it took us 12 minutes. And I’ve been with one or two others to talk about it on the radio—sometimes live and sometimes recorded. I also went to Eugene, Coos Bay, and Newport in various years to do TV segments. And I wrote many press releases and several articles about the event for a variety of newspapers. I also delivered fliers up and down the coast and throughout Eugene and mailed packets to other parts of Oregon.

For several years, I sent the acceptance letter with everything a participant would need to know after they had filled in an application and paid their fee. So I was the main contact for eight years. By the ninth year, I wanted to cut back. So the acceptance letter was sent out by the FEC.

Here is Jane Kirkpatrick, one of Oregon’s foremost authors, in 2015 when she was our Keynote Speaker. She is speaking with regular participant Gary Hartman.

I enjoyed talking to the participants at the meet-and-greet Friday evening prior to the Keynote Address. Then again as they arrived and set up Saturday morning. As co-founder and co-chair for all but one of the years and secretary for all nine, I would go around and try to briefly chat with all participants. The last several years, we had 70+ authors and 8 to 10 publishers participating.

I ‘ve also been a participant each year. I participated with my first book the first year (2011), then added books as they were published, until this past year I had five.

Here are authors networking with other authors in 2018. That’s just part of what I missed about the FFOB this year.

I miss the camaraderie of the committee meetings from April through September. And I miss the actual festival in three ways: It‘s so rewarding to see all our hard work turn into one of the most popular book festivals in the state. Secondly, I enjoy participating and meeting with the attendees. And thirdly, I miss networking with the other authors. It’s always such a treat to be surrounded by other writers. I love the Florence Festival of Books and really missed it this year.

I’m looking forward to next year. Some of our long-time members are no longer on the committee, and we have two new members, so we may do some things a little differently. And who knows how Covid-19 may change things. As expected, we plan on having it on one of the last weekends of September in 2021 at the FEC. As soon as I have exact dates, I’ll post on my blog and FB page as well as see that it’s on the FFOB website.

That sorta sums it up! Mark your calendars for next year!                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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#259–Groucho, not doing so good . . .

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I know he’s an old cat—somewhere between 18 and 20. I know to expect problems with his health. But he’s just been doing so well. In June at his annual checkup, he passed with flying colors. But after a checkup yesterday, his teeth need serious cleaning, his ears have some kind of discharge, and most serious, he’s having trouble urinating. All at once, he’s falling apart.

Sir Groucho loves to sit at the top of his tower.

I called the vet because of his urinating problem. I started noticing it last week. But it might have been going on longer. He has been using a very loud meow for the past year––not all the time, just when he wants my attention . . . or so I thought.

It is very loud. The first time, I thought he was being attacked, but, no, he was sitting under the chair ready for me to start swinging his favorite toy on a string for him to bat at. He loves this game; we play it every night. Then he wanted to play it during the day. Before long, he started his loud meowing for other things—water in the bathroom sink when it had run through and was empty, he would sit at my computer desk wanting me to sit there so he could be in my lap, and so on.

He wants me to sit down on the chair at my computer desk, so he can sit on my lap.

When he started meowing loudly at his litter box last week, I thought he was unhappy with the litter. It was due for change, so I changed it. But he continued the loud, insistent meows. I noticed that they were before and after he urinated. And there were a couple of times when he tried to urinate, but nothing happened. He was always successful on a second try. When I realized this could be a problem, I called the vet and we went in yesterday.

That’s when his vet, Dr. Barstow, found the problems with his teeth, ears, and urine. Apparently, there is blood in his urine. They took a sample and it is undergoing analysis. The thought is that there might be crystals in it, which may mean that he has cystitis. We should know by tomorrow, Friday.  I have bladder control dry food that I give him after I’ve put a dollop of hairball stuff on top. He eats the hairball stuff and a little bit of the dry food, but not much of it. I supplement with moist food in the morning and in the evening, shredded, cooked chicken and dry treats for dental control (which apparently are not working). Dr. Barstow says I should only give him the dry food (which he doesn’t like.)

He is yawning here, as I’m unloading the groceries.He tries to be a part of whatever I am ;doing.

She gave him a shot to control inflammation and another shot for pain. And I was given some pink stuff with an eye dropper—Amoxicillin, an antibiotic that is Pepto-Bismol pink––that I am to give him every 12 hours for two weeks. Oh joy! Generally speaking, we don’t do pills or anything around the mouth because this sweet, lovable cat has given me a puncture wound before. So this will be great fun!!! 

Yesterday after we got home, he peed immediately and then sat in one spot on the rug in the bedroom and didn’t move for hours. I think that was the result of the shots he was given. Later in the evening, he acted more normally and even played a little. He peed again too. Never knew I’d be so thrilled to see him pee.

Last night, I had him on my lap petting him, and he was totally unaware that I was about to give him some medication orally. Because it was such a surprise, I succeeded in getting all of it in his mouth. This morning, I put him on my lap and was petting him, and he wanted down immediately. I persevered and got most of the medication in his mouth. Some got on his bib. I tried washing it off later, but that pink must have a potent dye for he now has a pink spot on his white bib. And we’ve only just begun!

He loves to have me swing something for him to bat at–a rope or a toy tied on a string will do.

Today, instead of his loud, insistent meows, he makes tiny sounds. I’d rather have the loud meows. However, his movements are normal. He’s not just sitting in one spot.

He also urinated once during the night, which was good. But this morning he tried and couldn’t. Then about 1 p.m. the same thing and again at 2 p.m.  That’s when I called Dr. Barstow. She had said that if he couldn’t after trying two or three times to call, and they would want to see him right away.

So I took him in and waited in the car. After awhile, as assistant came out and told me they would use a catheter and keep him overnight. So I headed home. The house felt really lonely with no Groucho around.

Guarding his toys. Hope he’s home soon to play with them.

Later, the vet called. They had sedated him and inserted a catheter, and his very full bladder was able to empty. The urine was clear and looked much better than it did yesterday. They gave him a shot of penicillin instead of the amoxicillin to take care of tonight and tomorrow morning. Tests showed that there had been a lot of bacteria, so an antibiotic had been needed. Hope that takes care of the problem. The vet will call tomorrow as to where we go next with his treatment. Maybe by then, she’ll know if there are any crystals in his urine.

I’ll keep you posted.  Think positive thoughts about Sir Groucho and keep him in your prayers.

Note: About 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning, I received a call from the vet. No crystals in his urine. Apparently it was a bacterial infection. I get to pick him up today at 4 p.m. Whew!!!

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#258–Go bag, kit building aka disaster prep . . .

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As I sat here writing this a couple of days ago, the radio coverage was of Hurricane Sally and wildfires continuing to burn in many parts of Oregon, California, Washington, and more parts of the west. And the wildfire season isn’t nearly over. On the coast of Oregon is the ever-present danger of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami as well. We are told over and over that it is not “if” it will happen but “when.” I keep saying, “Someday I’m going to get prepared.” So this post is one more “someday has arrived” item. Last week when I tried to put my go-bag together in the middle of the night when the temps went from mid-50s to 74 and the wind from nothing to about 45 to 50 mph between 11 p.m. and midnight, I got spooked. So now, I think I’m finally ready to get serious and do something about it.

I packed like I was going on a trip and had very little food or water for me, but I did for Groucho and that is in white bag. There was more stuff in the suitcase, but I’ve been borrowing back since I packed it.

Wednesday night and yesterday morning, I dug out what I’d clipped from the newspaper over the years and then went online to read blog posts. My source is Dave Robinson who has written columns about disaster preparedness for more than one coastal newspaper and is the author of Disaster Prep for the Rest of Us.

Go-bag

I didn’t know what to put in a go-bag. When I put mine together last week, I got some things right, but I left out some necessary items. Robinson’s recommendation is not to buy a ready-made go-bag, but to personalize it to your needs. Here are the basic ingredients: food, water and something with which to purify water, medications, walking shoes, a few clothes and a poncho or jacket, and cell phone charger cord. (He recommends to keep a second one in the car.) For Sir Groucho, I had dishes for his water and food, canned food, dry food, medications, and leash and harness. Of course, I have a carrier for Sir Groucho to travel in.

These carry-ons that I no longer use for travel will be my new go-bags. They should hold what both Groucho and I will need.

Robinson recommends sticking to foods you are used to. Freeze-dried foods may have a shelf life of 25 years but may not be good for your digestive system during a time of stress. And he suggests some band-aids, pain medication, and flashlight and batteries. He also suggests a small water filter such as a LifeStraw or Survival Spring, both available for about $20. And Lightning Strike to help start a fire. These last two might be handy if you are stuck with your car between Florence and Eugene for several days.  

He thinks of a go-bag as a get you home bag if away from home when disaster strikes, which means that you need to have it in your car. And he thinks of it as the bag to grab when you are home and need to leave your house due to wildfire or earthquake. So it should be in your car whenever you are in your car and under your bed when home to be handy when you need it day or night.

We’re always told to grab important papers, which I did (I forgot insurance policies and passport), and I had them in a separate bag. I don’t want those sitting in a go-bag in the car. So Robinson’s suggestion is to make copies of them and put in the go-bag. Or photograph them, upload to your computer, and put on a flash drive. Then put the flash drive in a go-bag. These documents may include insurance policies, deeds, passports, birth certificates, and titles to your vehicles.

There is a lot of stuff on my desktop that I would not want to lose. So I think I’ll put those on flash drives, also, and put in my go-bag. And I’d also take my laptop.

Kit Building

In the event of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami, those of us on the coast may be on our own for up to two weeks. And that may be true also, if we happen to be on the road between Florence and Eugene. (This might be a situation where freeze dried food would be the best, because it takes up less space.) So having a kit to survive those two weeks is important. This would be in addition to the go-bag.

These are some foods, tea, soap, and face lotion that I got as a start for my survival kit.

I attended a disaster prep workshop taught by someone else a couple of years ago, and I remember her saying that the survival kit needs to be away from the house. If the house is damaged, you might not be able to get to your survival kit. It should be close by, but not in the garage or basement or anywhere else in the house. And it will require more than one large, sturdy container.

Food and water will be the major items. Robinson has a list of 19 food items that should be in the kit as well as a hand-operated can opener. And he recommends five gallons of water per person or more. To purify water if not bottled, have a small container of unscented regular household bleach. Experts recommend 8 drops of bleach per one gallon of water. So have an eye dropper also.

Here is some of what was already in my pantry that could go in the survival kit. Water and canned spaghetti sauce and beans.

Here are more of his suggestions for the survival kit:

* Two flashlights for every person with several backup batteries.

* For insurance purposes, it’s good to have a record of what your house and possessions look like before a disaster—an inventory through photos or video. These could be put on a flash drive. This morning a gal recently evacuated was interviewed on the radio and mentioned to photograph what’s in drawers too. She is from California and this was her second evacuation in the past few years. (After a disaster, if there is damage, document that through photos or video also.)

* Have some common-sense items like scissors or a utility knife (something sharp to cut with), sanitizing wipes, heavy duty trash bags, matches in waterproof containers, and a whistle to signal for help. Robinson says over and over that you cannot have too many batteries, zip ties, and duct tape.

* Have some cash on hand in small bills because ATMs may not be working and banks may be damaged or closed. And in a widespread power outage, debit cards won’t be helpful.

I should be able to do this. With Dave Robinson’s expertise, I now know what to do. In this blog post, I’ve listed some of his recommendations that I hadn’t thought of. To get the full list of foods to put in your kit ( two blog posts July 2016) and more recommendations that he calls ‘timely tips” (two blog posts July 2013), check out www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com..

If I can do this, so can you!

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