#247–Creating cards is addictive . . .

Six weeks ago, I had no cards. I only had books. Then I decided to do three cards with my Haiku poems that I had written about the Coronavirus situation. That was such fun, I did another card where I used my “Sleep! What sleep?” poem. I wrote about that in last week’s blog. I thought that would be it as far as creating cards.

Then I remembered two photos from a trip I took to Cornwall back in 2006 that I always thought would work well on cards. Up to now I’d only designed cards that used poems I’d written. That way, what I was doing went along with me being a writer. And at the gallery, I’m only juried in as a writer.

I checked, and it was okay for me to do cards that had photos and no poetry, as long as they were on card stands with other gallery members’ cards. I would not be able to have them at my space where my books are displayed.

So I went ahead and designed my two Cornwall cards. Two friends and I spent two weeks in Cornwall where we stayed in one location and saw different towns, hiking trails, estates, gardens, and pubs each day and then another week was spent on a sampler tour of the rest of the U.K.  During our stay in Cornwall, we took in at least three activities of the Daphne du Maurier writers’ conference. We signed up before leaving for England.

One of the activities was a hike to a place famous for its Scrumpy cider. The hike was cross-country—right through cow pastures filled with cows and going over stiles when we encountered fences––as we climbed up over a ridge. I stepped out of the group to get the photo of our group climbing. It was quite an experience and was similar to an experience in one of du Maurier’s writings. As we crested the ridge, we saw the empty chair. I was mesmerized by it and thought of all kinds of reasons for it being there.

Heading down the other side, we ended up in a narrow canyon with a small river at the place that served the apple cider Scrumpy–– their claim to fame. Apparently, this hard cider was developed in western England and originally was rather harsh to the taste and made from unselected apples. Any batch of apples would do. But I had read that Scrumpy had become more refined over the years, less harsh.

After the long hike, I was thirsty and had great anticipation. But when I actually drank some, it was the most awful stuff I had ever tasted. And I generally like cider—hard or not. This time, I settled for water. This Scrumpy must have been made the original way—definitely harsh. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps, the Brits have a taste for that sort of thing.

Both Cornwall cards are from that hike. I enjoyed designing them and liked the way they turned out. Once they were done, I figured I was done with card making. When they arrived in the mail, I put them in their clear sleeves, stickered them with price and number, and took them to the gallery and put them on the card stand. I thought I was going to be given six slots, but it turned out to be 12. Since I used one slot for bundles of three Coronavirus Haiku cards tied together with a bow, that meant I had room for five more cards if I wanted each slot filled with a different card. Hmm!

That evening I went through my 4,000+ photos and found five that I thought were good enough. I designed a daylilies card. I made it small with a background that I think complements the daylilies. I loved this photo because two days after I took it, the deer ate the blossoms and did so from then on. I never got to see more than one blossom at a time after that. So this photo was the only way to see more than one blossom.

The next day, I designed the other four. Actually, I did no designing. I simply uploaded a photo and that was it. No words, no background, easy peasy! I just let them have the white paper they were being printed on as the background. And I loved the way they turned out.

One of the four was my favorite photo from Devil Cat where Groucho is sitting on the 6-inch balcony railing with his tail hanging down on one side and a front leg on the other. Good thing, he has good balance. It’s a long way down.

Another horizontal photo was the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I must have taken at least 20 shots of that bridge over the years, but this was the only one I considered good. I took the photo on a rainy day when I was doing a trial run before one of the Lane Community College Outward Venture trips to see the historic bridges. I would be leading the trip. It rained until just before Newport and by the time I got to where I wanted to have a photo op on the trip, the sun came out and the clouds were breaking apart. It became a photo op for me right then. It is a beautiful bridge from any angle and my second favorite of the coast’s historic McCullough bridges. My favorite is the Siuslaw River Bridge right here in Florence.

Then I did two vertical cards. One was my favorite rhody photo. It is of ‘Mrs. Furnivall,’ and I used it in my blog post “#241–Rhodies, glorious rhodies” about six weeks ago. On the day, I  was taking photos to use in that blog, I really worked to get just the right background, composition, etc. on several photos. But not on this one. I just snapped it and moved on to another plant. Who knew it would turn out to be the one I liked best.

The other vertical is one of my favorite shots from The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!! It was taken at the O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden near Reedsport. I thought it wouldn’t turn out so good because no matter how I tried, the white rhody blossoms kept getting in the way. And, of course, that’s what makes the photo so special.

These last five cards arrived in the mail yesterday, July 1. I got them all packaged with their envelopes in clear sleeves and stickered and in packs of 10 before dinner. And this morning, I went to Backstreet Gallery and placed them in their slots on the card stand. They all look fabulous. I am so pleased!

I still can’t believe how happy these cards have made me. Even if nobody buys them, it has been such fun creating them. And when I was on duty last Sunday, I sold three “Sleep” cards and someone else said she would be in to buy two “Sleep” cards tomorrow.

I’ll keep you posted on how they do and if I decide to do any more cards. . . .

There’s this bridge picture I have of the bridge open with a ship going through at sunset. Might make a nice card. Hmm!

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#246-Sleep! What sleep? . . .

Toss and turn, toss and turn. On my back, on my side. Legs curled up, legs stretched out. No matter what I do, I can’t get comfortable. I count sheep, cats, dogs, and anything else that comes to mind. I even count as far as I can. Then I think of all the good things that happened today, this week, last week. I plan out tomorrow, then plan it in detail. I think of projects I need to do and plan them in detail. No matter what I do, I cannot get to sleep.

Sir Groucho loves to sleep in my bed. And he even knows how to use a pillow!

So that night, I finally gave up getting to sleep and got up and wrote a poem “Sleep! What sleep?” This actually happened a few years ago, and I’ve read the poem at a couple of different writer’s forums. And it always goes over well because folks can relate.

And now because of the pandemic, difficulty in sleeping is an even bigger problem. Last week on the radio, I heard at least three different reports on how the stress caused by the pandemic is affecting people’s sleep. More and more people were finding it hard to get to sleep with so much to worry about. And not just adults. One report was on how it is affecting children’s sleep too. And the third report was on the various ways to make it easier to get to sleep.

Because sleeplessness is now more of a problem than ever, I’ve decided to make my poem available to folks.  I’ve incorporated it into card format, and it is now for sale at Backstreet Gallery in Old Town in Florence and on this very blog under the menu item CARDS.  

On the front of the card is the word “Sleep” with a photo of Sir Groucho sleeping peacefully, Inside is the poem “Sleep! What sleep?”

This is the front of the card.

I’ll share a couple stanzas:

Sleep! What Sleep?

You can’t sleep. You’re tired, irritable, and everything is conspiring against you:

As you press your head into the pillow, you realize even your hair hurts.

beneath your leg, the wrinkles of your pajamas begin to bug you

and with each breath, you hear the rustling of the pillow beneath your ear.

With these petty nuisances, you’ll never get to sleep.

Suddenly, your arm lying across your stomach feels much too heavy,

your leg lying on top of the other has made the bottom leg numb,

and your eye develops an unbearable itch.

You get up and look for the eye drops; you’ll never get to sleep. . . .

And on it goes for another three stanzas.

For some folks it’s only an occasional night of sleeplessness. For others it happens more often. And for some it happens so often, it’s considered insomnia.

The poem is on the inside.

Now that I’ve listed through the poem many of the ways to not get to sleep, I’ll devote the rest of this post on how to make getting a good night’s sleep easier. These suggestions are from an article in the summer 2019 issue of Cancer Health titled “Sleep Solutions” by Bob Barnett.

“To fully tackle insomnia, the best treatment, according to the American College of Physicians and other medical groups, is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-1). . . . CBT-1 works by helping you make changes in sleep habits that sound easy but are really hard to achieve.

These include:

*limiting daytime naps

*avoiding stimulants, such as coffee in the afternoon and avoiding alcohol in the evening

*going to sleep only when you feel sleepy at night, yet getting up at the same time each morning.

*not spending too much time in bed (seven hours of sleep out of eight hours in bed is better than seven hours of sleep out of nine hours in bed)

*establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual, such as reading

*making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and free of distractions such as cellphones, tablets, and TV.”

Anytime, anywhere, Sir Groucho has no trouble falling asleep.

So if you are one who has trouble getting to sleep, try some of these and see if they help.

And check out my Sleep card. Even if you have an occcasional night of sleeplessness, you’ll relate.

One friend, after reading the entire poem, emailed me, “OMG! Have you been in my bedroom???”

Like I said, folks can relate!

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#245­–A life of white privilege, who knew . . .

I am a white woman and, therefore, have “white privilege.” Although, I didn’t know that until I was in my 70s and started hearing the phrase. With all the Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd’s death, we’ve heard the phrase a lot lately. It got me thinking, and I tried to remember interactions with the police throughout my life. As far as I can remember, they were all civil. I was never afraid of the police. I thought of them as a source of help in time of need, and I still do. That must be my white privilege talking. As a kid, though, they were scary up close.

I was about six (in the middle) when a policeman visited my classsroom. First time to see a policeman up close.

When I was in elementary school, we lived in middle-class neighborhoods in or on the edge of cities. My first contact with the police was when a policeman visited my first grade class. I was impressed with how big he was in his uniform. A little scary for me. We lived on the outskirts of Vancouver, WA, and a few years later, a police officer came to the door one evening to tell my dad to go pick up the trash he dumped off the side of a back road. This officer as I recall was big and scary too in his dark uniform. Before he left, he thanked my dad for leaving the address on envelopes and boxes, making it easy to find who did it.

I remember the whole situation. We had a bunch of stuff to drop off at the dump. Because it was out in the country, my folks thought we would make a day of it and go for a drive. So the whole family was along. As kids, we were about seven, eight, and nine years old, and I was the oldest. After awhile, we seemed to be driving in circles; my dad simply couldn’t find the dump. So he found a remote spot instead, and we all pitched in, dropping bags and boxes of stuff over the bank. After the police officer’s visit, we went back the following weekend and retrieved it all. It took awhile to find the exact spot. And it was hard work to haul all that yucky stuff up the bank and put back in the trunk of the car. It didn’t help that it had rained. What a mess! That whole experience made such an impression on me, I still remember it..

We were about seven (Edna), eight (Harry), and nine (me) when our family got caught dumping trash in the countryside.

When I was 13, we moved to the Kern River Valley, a relatively remote area about an hour and a half northeast of Bakersfield, CA, in the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas.  We moved into a small community of company housing at a power plant when my dad started working for Southern California Edison. There were two communities of company housing along the river near each end of the valley, and we lived a few years at each of them.  

The law enforcement in the valley in the 1950s was minimal. There was a local rancher/part time constable who I think took care of the entire valley. That seems an impossible job, but I don’t remember anyone else. And there was a deputy sheriff, from an adjoining county, who was in charge once you crossed the county line and headed upriver. This deputy’s family had one of the best steak houses in California quite a ways upriver––McNally’s on the Kern. And in a back room, illegal gambling took place. Everybody seemed to know about it and nobody seemed to care. He was also the father of one of my friends. So I knew him mostly as her dad.

One time when I was in high school and on a double date, which did not include his daughter, I saw him in action as the deputy sheriff. Four of us, two couples, were parked at a wayside upriver. Deputy Sheriff McNally came cruising up to check out our car. He gave each of us a big “Howdy” cause he knew each of us. He told us it was probably time to head home. And his parting words were, “See you in church tomorrow, Judy!”

Terry, my boyfriend when I was about 15. He may have been the one with me when the Deputy Sheriff checked out our parked car and told us it was time to head home.

My next remembrance was a year or so later, I cut my finger on a broken glass in the soapy water where I worked at a summer job as a dishwasher/waitress in a small breakfast place––Cozy Corner Cafe. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So the other waitress ran to another restaurant looking for the constable. She found him. Our constable had no special uniform. He wore his ranch clothes, including his cowboy hat and boots. No police station either. His office was any of two or three restaurants in Kernville—the largest of the towns in the valley. And he used his own car because, you guessed it, no police car. So he came roaring up to the restaurant in his big, blue and white Buick with his portable light on top flashing away. He also had a siren. Off we went siren blaring to a nearby town that had the only doctor in the area. What a thrill! I loved it! My finger needed a few stitches and then he took me home. I can still see the scar.

Those were my connections to the law when I was growing up. There may have been more, but these are the ones I remember.

From the time I was a young woman all the way through middle age, I was pulled over a few times for traffic violations. Here are the ones I remember.

As an adult, I was stopped for various traffic violations from time to time, but I was never asked to step out of the car.

One day in the 1980s I was coming home from work in heavy traffic in the San Jose area. A car in front of me sat at an angle trying to get into the left-hand turn lane and blocked my lane. As soon as the car moved, my light turned yellow. I shot through the intersection, not realizing a police car was on my tail. He pulled me over and told me I had run a red light. I told him that it was yellow and that if he was behind me, he must have been the one to run a red light. Of course, I got a ticket, but no body search, no breath test, no handcuffs, no beating, no jail time.

In 1985, we had moved to Florence, OR. In the mid-1990s, a young policeman pulled me over for going 37 mph in the 30-mile zone. He asked me what in the world was I thinking to be going so fast? I told him that I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner, and that’s what I thought about every night on my way home from work. He gave me a long lecture on keeping my focus on the road and gave me a ticket. He looked all of 20 and was so patronizing. I just wanted to slap him but refrained from doing so. He was just doing his job—albeit, just a bit too sure of himself!

Heading into middle age, my brother, sister, and I are still protected by our white privilege. This was taken at a high school reunion in the Kern River Valley.

In 2000, I was cruising along the speed trap just west of Veneta going about 70. It is the one place along Hwy 126 between Florence and Eugene where the 55-mph speed limit is really enforced. And it’s the only place where the road is actually straight for miles. I suddenly realized that I needed to slow down and got my speed down to 64 before a police carl zipped by. He made a U, came up behind me, and pulled me over. I held my tongue and didn’t say how relieved I was that he didn’t catch me going 70. I was very pleasant. He was very no nonsense as he wrote out a ticket for $210.


Jan at the South Coast Writers Conference a few years ago. She was with me, when we were heading home and got stopped for having my tires hit the fog line too often! I think the officer thought I was on something

Fast forward 15 years, and I’m a senior citizen with gray hair. Now, I not only have white privilege but old-lady privilege going for me. Here’s what I mean.

I was heading home from Gold Beach one February where a friend and I had attended the South Coast Writers Conference. I was pulled over because my tires were touching the fog line too often. I think he thought I might have been on something. After he told us why he pulled us over, my friend in the passenger seat explained that whenever I talked, I used my right hand. She told him how I would take it off the steering wheel and the car would veer slightly to the right each time. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. So the officer told her to make sure I kept both hands on the wheel and wished us both a good day. My friend was also a senior citizen and white.

A few years ago I was coming back home after doing an afternoon program in Port Orford about the historic coastal bridges. It was winter and getting dark. When I got close to Langlois, I didn’t see the slow to 30 sign and drove into town going 40. I slowed as soon as I realized where I was. But there was a police car already on my tail and pulled me over. The officer was very nice and simply told me to be more careful in the future.  I felt I had really gotten away with something, because no ticket.

Heading home after this event, I got stopped for going over the speed limit, but no ticket.

Just last spring, I was coming back from a trip to Gold Beach, where I made 16 stops (some going and some coming home) delivering books. I left Florence about 7 a.m. that morning and was returning about 7 p.m. and it was dark. I was tired and so relieved to be back in Florence safely. That’s what I told the officer after he finally got me to pull over.  

At the end of the bridge as you enter Florence is a sign that says 30 mph. I continued on at 40, not realizing that I should have slowed down and not noticing that I had a police car on my tail. When the officer saw that I wasn’t slowing, he turned on his lights. I didn’t notice the lights either. He expected me to pull over, instead, I speeded up to 43. This irritated him, and he turned on the siren. That, I did notice and pulled over one lane to let him by. But, of course, he followed me. So I turned on a side street and pulled over, and he was right behind me.

Besides white privilege, now I’ve got age going for me when it comes to dealing with law enforcement.

He was very patient and pleasant as he told how he tried and tried to get my attention. And I told him about my long, tiring day. He gave me a brief lecture on paying attention to the speed limit signs and strongly advised me to check my rear view more often. And then he let me off with a warning. I was so, so surprised that he didn’t write me up!!

Evidently, being white as well as old is like doubling down on white privilege. Who knew!

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#244–Mari’s Books is now Books and More in Yachats . . .

Back in 2011, when I published my first major book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, I was given some very good advice from a few authors I looked to as mentors. Bob Welch, one of Oregon’s most well-known authors, was one of them. He said I should check out Mari’s Books in Yachats. I did. It was love at first sight. They liked my book and I liked them and their cozy bookstore.

Mari’s Books was a fixture in Yachats for 14 years.

Them was Mari Irvin and Mary Wiltse, who were sisters and co-owners along with Jeannine Jansen. Either Mari or Mary were always on duty whenever I came in and we became friends. They also sold more of my books than any other bookstores that carry my books. Every time I published a new book, they tried it out.

They even got to know my spiel for my books almost as well as I did. One day, I happened to be there delivering some books. While I was filling out the invoice, I heard Mary telling folks about The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans. Then she said, “How’d I do, Judy?” That’s the kind of close, friendly relationship I had with Mary and Mari. I often spent 15 or 20 minutes having delightful conversations with Mari after our book transaction was completed.

A cozy, friendly place to be.

For the past six years, I’ve been a part of the Yachats Farmers Market. So on Sundays, Mari or Mary would tell folks interested in my books, that if they wanted to buy the book directly from the author, to walk over to the Market only a block away. One cold, foggy Sunday, while I was freezing at my booth, Mary stopped by and handed me a hot, steaming Cappuccino and a chocolate croissant. I don’t think I ever enjoyed anything as much as that.

Mary Wiltse (left) and Mari Irvin of Mari’s Books became my friends over the years.

When doing sales trips up or down the coast, I always call ahead to see what is needed and schedule a time to stop by. But with Mari’s Books, they didn’t mind if I just popped in. A few years ago, Mary went back to the Midwest to be with family, but the wonderful relationship with Mari’s books continued on through this past January.

Then last February, I received a call from Mari that she had sold the bookstore, but the good news was that she had sold it to local folks and that it would continue on basically the same. I was both saddened and relieved. I will miss seeing Mari but was so glad the bookstore would still be there.

In my latest book, The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED, of the 26 places covered, two are in Yachats and one nearby at Cape Perpetua. So the book sells well in Yachats. One of the places covered within Yachats is the Little Log Church. And one of the new owners is Mary Crook, who is the officiant at the Log Church. As you might expect, she is particularly fond of that book. And when folks seem interested in it, she will often point out pages 34 and 35. She was totally thrilled one day when someone came in and bought the book and asked her to sign one of those pages.

Now, the nearly-the-same wonderful bookstore is called Books and More.

So the bookstore continues on, but their timing wasn’t so good. They opened March 1 and had to close shortly afterwards due to the pandemic.

Now, under Phase 2, they have reopened. I could tell because I received a call from Mary Crook saying she wanted six copies of the UNEXPECTED. So I delivered them and got to meet her co-owner, Yvonne Erickson, who was on duty that day. She also owns the shop next door called Just Local.

When I walked into the bookstore, the only difference I saw were some framed photographs on the walls by locals. Besides books, Mari’s, during its 14-year run, always had local stuff such as notecards and felt products. Now there will be even more. The new name is Books and More: Something old, something new, something local. There have always been gently used books as well as new books from locals, meaning as far away as Eugene, and that won’t change.

Mary Crook, wearing face mask, is holding up my Guide to the UNEXPECTED. Her sweatshirt reads, “There is no such thing as too many books!”

It wasn’t even a week later that I received another call from Mary and she wanted six more of the UNEXPECTED. So I made another trip to Yachats. This time it was Mary on duty. The shop is open with masks on the proprietor and requested of the public. And social distancing, while difficult in such a small bookstore, is attempted.

So next time you’re at the coast and near Yachats, check out Books and More. It’s still a wonderful, cozy bookstore––and more.

Note: Hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Located in C&K Market plaza in downtown Yachats.   

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#243–Sir Groucho––a photo essay . . .

This photo was taken after I had had him a few years.

Groucho is a black-and-white, long-haired, tuxedo cat. In a previous life, he was shot with a bee-bee gun and beaten with a bat or club with enough force to break off most of his bottom teeth on one side and damage the eardrum on the same side so badly that only scar tissue remains. Despite all this, he survived.

Back in 2008-2009, he roamed our neighborhood, which is on a ridge overlooking Mercer Lake. A neighbor across the road fed him and he would follow another neighbor when he walked his dog. Groucho was scrawny, bedraggled, and meowed a lot. He was probably in pain because of his wounds, which we found out about later—the infected area around where he had been shot and the infected gums where the teeth has been broken off. He also had fleas, worms, and eye infections.

When the neighbor who had been feeding Groucho moved away, next door neighbor Cliff began feeding him. Then he took Groucho to the vet to have the bee-bee taken out and the roots of the broken off teeth removed. The cat was also neutered. These various surgeries, besides costing Cliff several hundred dollars, required Groucho to be indoors for proper healing. Because Cliff and his wife have a dog, they didn’t want to bring him inside. So Cliff asked me if I would take him in for a couple of weeks.

In the early days, he often peeked at me from behind something.

At first, I fed him about 11 times a day because he would bug me incessantly with loud angry meows whenever I walked into the kitchen. Within a week, that dropped to five times a day.

After his two weeks of recuperation, Groucho and I had developed a routine. More importantly, I had decided not to let him back outside. The world had been a rough place for him. So I told Cliff of my decision and granted him visiting rights. He didn’t complain; he just smiled. Perhaps, this was his plan all along.

Six months later, Groucho no longer sported a skinny look, and his long fur had become soft and fluffy and thick. Even his tail looked better. It had filled out somewhat. With no infection encrusting his eyes, it was easy to see that they were a lovely pale green. Groucho had gradually turned into a handsome fellow. And he was certainly happier. His incessant strident meows had mellowed into conversational murmurs.

For several years, he liked to roam the balcony. It was as close as he could get to the great outdoors.

He no longer ate like a starving wild animal. His feedings dropped from five to three to two times a day. And he went from wolfing everything down before I even left the kitchen to becoming as finicky as a typical house cat.

Now, 10 ½ years later, Groucho is the master of the house. Every room has some accommodation or some cat tower or cat palace just for him. I figure that he is somewhere between 17 and 19. He still likes to play and still is able to race flat out from upstairs sitting in the top of his tower to downstairs sitting at the window next to the front door. So he is doing very well. He also takes some very long naps each day. That’s the only sign of aging. He still looks wonderful. He is just a love, and I’m so glad I helped rescue him.

Groucho has been a wonderful companion, especially during the hunkering down period of the Coronavirus. I’ve added more of my favorite Groucho photos. If you want to know more about him, check out my book, Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known. There is a chapter about Groucho.

Groucho loves to curl up in the warmth of the laundry right out of the drier.
He also loves to lie in the middle of the kitchen floor all stretched out–especially at dinnertime.
Groucho enjoys playing with his toys–especially balls, which he likes to bounce down the stairs.
Grouch loves to sit on all the levels of his tower and even to play going round and round and up and down.

Groucho loves being up high. These stairs to the bed, were put on the bed while I was vacuuming. Groucho thought it was for him!
Hr thinks my bed is his bed too! Even knows how to use a pillow!
Groucho had his eyelid operated on June 2019. Even though, he was quite old for the operation. it was very successful. But he did not adjust well to the cone during his recuperation.
Although, he was able to get up to one of his favorite perches.
It wasn’t long til he was back to being the elegant Sir Groucho.
He has his moments when he is just plain cute.

And sometimes he just looks silly.
But he is always the master of the house. In his mind, he is master of all he surveys

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#242–Besides books, I now have cards . . .

This is very exciting for me. I now have a line of three cards, all concerning the Coronavirus situation. I call it The Corona Series. They will be for sale at Backstreet Gallery in Florence when it reopens in mid-June and also on their new online store. And they will be available from me as of next week.

The cards that I have created, each have a poem or poems on them as well as a photo. I do not consider myself a poet, but I have written some poetry and had one published in two different publications. Another one I shared at a writer’s salon, during open mic. The ones on the cards are brand new and in the form of Haiku.

I love picturing the ostrich with a face mask or trying to put on Nitrile gloves.

It began when I heard a challenge on NPR radio to use Haiku to write about the Coronavirus situation. A poem immediately began to form in my mind. Before I knew it, I was at the computer and typing away. Then another one began to form. After some tweaking, I had two that I liked. A few days later, I awoke in the middle of the night with another one forming. So I got up; and before long, I had two more. A few days later, I came up with another one. This one was more serious and had three stanzas.

Haiku is very structured—five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. When I taught first grade, we worked hard on listening for the syllables in words. One of the ways was through reading Haiku poems that we had created as a class. We would clap for each syllable. It made poetry fun; they loved it.

I’ve always enjoyed Haiku and some are truly profound. Mine are not, but they were fun to write and enjoyable to read. And this Corona Series is very timely.

After writing them, I shared with a few folks who thought they were quite good. So I decided to make cards of them. I asked one of the members of Backstreet Gallery, where many of the artists sell cards, how to go about it. I was so anxious to get them going, that I didn’t wait for her response.

Staying home means comfy clothes and hair that is getting too long with salons closed. But still comb it for ZOOM!

Last weekend, I spent one morning trying to print on just the right place on a piece of copy paper to print my poem. Then I tried to find a piece of clip art to put next to it, while using a Microsoft Word program. It took a couple of hours to get it the way I wanted. Then I wanted background color but couldn’t find any way to do it. Before I knew it, I hit the wrong key and the clip art disappeared. I gave up on creating my own cards from scratch.

Then I went online. One program on creating cards, had a bunch of templates to make specific cards. Not what I needed. Then I found Zazzle. I had used it once before to create a mug. At that time, I created one mug and ordered three. One for each of the three editors at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. That was when I still worked there. We called ourselves “The Team Supreme” and that’s what I put on the mugs along with our names. We loved them.

So I found Zazzle’s section on cards. I chose the size that I wanted and selected horizontal or vertical. Then I was able to make a box for my poem or poems, another box for a photo, and then added a background. The first card took a while, since I was in learning mode. The second and third were much faster, much easier. I put everything on the front and left the inside blank. So these cards could be used for any purpose. They will come with envelopes. I ordered just short of 100 of each.

This poem turned out more serious and three times as long.

Then I did an online search for clear sleeves, since that is how most of the cards at Backstreet Gallery are sold. The second place I searched had what I wanted. So I ordered a size to fit the cards with a resealable flap.  

I really like the way they turned out. I enjoyed the creative process of both composing the poems and creating the cards. Letting those creative juices flow is very intoxicating. And doing something you’ve never done before while stretching your limits makes you feel really good. Like I said at the start of this post, this is very exciting for me!  

Maybe you, too, could write some Haiku!

Note: To order cards, just go to the menu bar and click on CARDS.  

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#241–Rhodies, glorious rhodies . . .

My front yard rhodies backed by the tall Douglas firs and cedars.These are three plants of ‘Jean Marie de Montague’ that have intermingled so they look like one.

I live in rhododendron country, where this time of year the undergrowth is filled with the pink blossoms of the wild rhodies. The acid soil, mild temps, and plenty of rain are exactly what they thrive on. And in people’s yards, the hybrid rhodies abound with multiple colors. In acknowledgment of all things rhody, Florence has had the Rhododendron Festival nearly every year for the past 113 years. But this year, because of the Coronavirus, a couple of the activities were done virtually. The four days of actual events were cancelled. This is a real shame because each year the Rhody Festival kicks off tourist season by attracting 15,000 to 20,000 visitors. Tourism is the lifeblood of Florence.

With my parade bling and festival pin, I am just home from the Grand Floral Parade of the Rhody Festival of a couple of years ago.

Of course, when we moved here in 1985, I wanted a yard filled with rhodies. There were four small ones in the front that had yellowed leaves and looked pitiful. Then there was our ‘mini forest’ of 75 to 100 six- or seven-foot Douglas fir and cedar in a large part of the front yard on both sides of the house. On the east side slope alongside the house were several Scotch Broom plants. They are now considered a noxious, invasive plant that needs to be eradicated. And down below was our drain field surrounded by Himalaya blackberry bushes making the backyard nearly impenetrable.

I fertilized and watered my four pitiful rhodies and they finally came around. I took out the Scotch Broom and planted some rhodies on the east side. And with help from my husband and his chain saw, my dad and I schlepped blackberry prunings away again and again until they were all gone.

Then we started clearing the mini forest. The trees were short enough that I could grab the top and saw through the bottom and toss it and move on to another one. My husband and I were able to thin out the trees to a healthy number of about 20. As they grew, we were able to cut back the lower branches. Finally, the trees were tall enough that with the lower branches removed, we could stand under them. That’s when we planted a number of rhodies and azaleas under the trees on both sides of the house.

Rhodies on the eastern slope are doing fine.The blossoms of ‘Mrs. Furnivall’ are quite sturdy.

Today, there are only two azaleas remaining and they are the Hino crimson, and they are in direct sun. It appears that azaleas and most rhodies really like the sun. The four pitiful plants that I started with are absolutely spectacular and fill the area in front of the living room, where they receive good sun. I am so glad I didn’t just jerk them out. And all the rhodies on the east side are thriving.

The mini forest trees are now about 70 feet tall with lovely gray trunks. Some of the rhodies under the trees are getting too much shade and are producing no or reduced bloom. So I’ll be having a tree trimmer come in soon and trim up all the trees. It’s also for fire protection purposes. I had it done about nine years ago. The branches on these Douglas firs and cedars have grown longer and droop so much that it seems they were never trimmed.

This year, because of recuperating from knee surgery and not being able to drive long distances by car as well as not being able to travel by plane either due to the Coronavirus, I have not traveled to California to see family and friends like I usually do. Which means, I have been here to thoroughly enjoy my rhodies throughout April and May. I’d like to share some of my favorites.

At the edge of the trees ‘Blue Ensign’ does quite well. These blossoms are quite fragile.
Rhodies are spectacular up close or from a distance. This is ‘Mrs. Furnivall’ up close.
Sometimes white flowers turn a rusty color in the rain, but these don’t. I have no idea what the name is, but I just love the blossoms. (Mike Bones read this post and says that it is ‘Helene Schiffner.’)
The last to bloom are on the west side of the driveway––red ‘Leo’ and the well named ‘Pink Walloper,’ which I just discovered has been renamed ‘Lem’s Monarch.’ I love this combination. (Mike says that this is still ‘Pink Walloper,’ and that ‘Lem’s Monarch’ is very similar but not the same. Thanks, Mike!)
A lovely place to see rhodies is the O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden east of Reedsport off of Hwy 138 across from Dean Creek Elk preserve. It is only open two or three days a year and one of those is on Mother’s Day weekend. Very few people know about this garden. It is truly Oregon’s secret garden.

Rhodies bloom once, and then it’s over until next year, but they are spectacular and bring such pleasure. Rhodies, glorius rhodies!

Note: All the photos are from my yard except the last one taken at the rhody garden near Reedsport. For more information on the garden, check out http://www.hinsdalegarden.com or see pp.48–51 in my book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED, that which is odd, unusual or quirky!!!

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#240–In praise of rest stops . . .

For the past 18 years, I’ve spent a couple of weeks of April and the first part of May in California visiting family and friends. In order to see everybody that I want to see, I drive. But this year, due to January knee surgery, I could not drive that 2,000-mile round-trip at this point in my recuperation. I had planned to fly to Bakersfield to see family in May. But due to the Coronavirus and ban on non-essential travel, that trip has been cancelled. Each of those 18 years I’ve driven to California nearly every October and many Christmases too. So I plan to be on the road later this year when my new knee can handle it and when ban on travel is lifted. At least I hope that’s the case. We shall see.

Visiting my sister in California a couple of years ago.

Whenever I head south by car, I drive eight to nine hours or more in a day for two days to get to Bakersfield where my family lives. I also visit friends on both ends of the trip. One friend lives in the northern part of the LA area, another lives in the Bay Area, and a couple of friends both live in the Gold Country east of I-5. Since I drive down at least twice a year, I see family on every trip and friends at least once each year.

I can handle the long days of driving because I get the largest caffeinated caffe latte when I get to I-5 and milk it to the California state line. It keeps me alert because I normally drink decaf. And I listen to audiobooks. Between the caffeine and listening to the works of some of my favorite authors, it keeps me from falling asleep.

Klamath River rest stop with lovely areas to walk.

Drinking all that coffee means I need to make a pit stop from time to time. So I appreciate routes with well-spaced rest stops. I-5 through Oregon and California has well-spaced rest stops, except for just north of Sacramento to south of Stockton. And Highway 101 has pitifully few in California. There are only two on my route between the Oregon state line and Highway 146 where I head east. One is in the redwoods, and one is close to Paso Robles. So gas stations become my stops along 101.

This blog post is in praise of rest stops. I really appreciate them.

The most obvious reason to stop is the restroom. But a rest stop is so much more. It’s a place to walk, to eat, to nap. I need to exercise my legs every couple of hours, and all rest stops have paved walkways and some even have trails. It is also okay to just stay in your car without raising the suspicions of anyone. You can eat in your car or sit at tables. I always carry food, so rest stops are where I eat my lunch. And it’s okay to lean your head back and take a nap at a rest stop. It’s better to take a nap than to continue driving when you find yourself nodding off.

Trail follows right along the Klamath River.

Rest stops sometimes are also welcome centers, such as the Klamath River one, with info on both California and Oregon. Sometimes there is a trailer at a rest stop with folks from a local group offering free coffee. And all rest stops have maps on large posters and some concession machines. Some rest stops have informative signs about the geology or the flora and fauna of the area.

Where there are no rest stops or gas stations, I have turned off on scenic side roads just looking for a safe place to pull off the road. Well, just try to find a place to pull over. There is room by someone’s mailbox. But when I’ve stopped there, the mail carrier came along and honked at me to move on. I’ve pulled over on a turnout and been run off by a school bus and another time by a logging truck wanting to turn around. I pulled over once to eat my lunch alongside a country road, and some locals stopped and asked if I needed help.

At the Weed rest stop, there is a great view of Mt. Shasta.

I’ve had equal luck when pulling into small towns or cities. In cities, I get lost and have a hard time finding my way back to the highway. In small towns, I try to follow the signs to gas or lodging and often still don’t find them and get lost in the process. Often, in trying to find my way back to the highway, I find myself heading out of town on a strange road and not being able to find a place to turn around. So I turn onto a side road and try to find a driveway to turn around in. Then I can’t remember which way to turn to get back to the highway. I can’t count the number of times that has happened to me. One time just after dark, I pulled into an empty Walmart parking lot to hear the last of an audiobook before the last mile to my friend’s house. That time a friendly policeman told me to move on. I don’t think he believed my story. He probably didn’t know what an audiobook was.

As a frequent traveler of highways/freeways, I can’t sing the praises of rest stops enough. Two of my favorites are by rivers. The Rogue River rest stop in Oregon along the Rogue and the Klamath River rest stop and welcome center along the Klamath. Both have trails along their rivers and it seems miles of paved walkways with endless grass. Both are totally lovely!

I just love the very old olive trees at the rest stop near Corning in California.

Another favorite is the rest stop near Weed in northern California with the fabulous view of Mt. Shasta. I also love the ancient-looking olive trees at the rest stop just north of Corning just south of Red Bluff.  

I won’t stop at rest stops after dark, though. I remember reading how Ted Bundy trolled rest stops for victims along I-5. Hmm! Okay, so rest stops aren’t perfect. But for me traveling alone on the freeways and highways between Florence and my stops in California, they fit my needs perfectly––in the daytime.

Suddenly, I’m ready to hit the road!!

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#239–Some assembly required . . .

I am not a “some assembly required” person.

When it took almost 5 minutes to saw through one end of the box with my knife just to get the blankety-blank thing open, I figured the whole project would be difficult. With one end open, I couldn’t budge a thing. Then I sawed through the other end. Still nothing moved because everything was fitted so snugly nothing could budge. I could push all I wanted but nothing would happen. So I sawed through one long side of the THICK cardboard with my trusty knife and was able to open the box and totally expose the parts of the four-tier shelving. 

I finally got the blankety-blank box open with the help of my trusty knife.

The 3-foot long by 14-inch wide by 56 inches high shelving would be used to help solve my office organization problems. The closet is jam packed with a 1964 sewing machine that hasn’t worked in years, pitiful shelves filled with sewing stuff, a chair, two-drawer file cabinet, and all kinds of stuff that is in various tote bags and some other stuff too. There are tote bags on top of tote bags. I think they are multiplying because there are tote bags outside the closet around a larger file cabinet. It is all just crying out to be cleaned out and organized. I have wanted to do something about it for ages. Months ago, I bought clear bins in which to organize everything. Then I was going to buy the shelving and hire someone to put it together.

So why do I, not a “some assembly required” person, think I can put this shelving together? Answer: the cat’s new water fountain.

It was somewhat complicated to put together, but had excellent directions.

The other day, I bought a water fountain for my cat because he likes his water moving when he drinks from it. He used to drag the water dish all over the dining room trying to get the water to move and spilled huge puddles everywhere. Once I figured out why he was doing it, I started putting water in one of the sinks in my master bedroom bath. (Just try dragging that, Groucho!) It’s just that the bathroom sink leaks ever so slowly and to keep water in there for him overnight, I have to use a bowl. Well, when he puts his paw in the bowl to make the water move, it makes a racket and wakes me in the night. And besides his wet paws track up the wooden floors.

So when I saw the water fountain, I thought that it would solve the problem. I got it home, took out all the parts, read the directions, and put it together. Miracle of miracles, it worked––totally amazed me. The directions were excellent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. It was somewhat complicated. So with that under my belt, I was ready to tackle the shelving.

Groucho was in position as supervisor of the project.

Once it was out of the box, I sat down to read the directions. But each page had only the same five words “edge of shelf faces down” with detailed drawings. At that point, it seemed that it would be easier than the water fountain.

There weren’t many types of parts. Mostly four of this and four of that, but 16 of one type and numerous little packaging parts. It didn’t take much of an imagination to picture Groucho chasing parts all around the house. So out came my Tupperware.

Steel bushings, rubber feet, and plastic clips comprise the parts that will turn a box of shelving into a four-tiered shelf.

I got started. I screwed the feet into the bottom portion of each pole. Then connected the top part and bottom part of each pole by screwing in a steel bushing. I always thought bushings were rubbery, but not these. Easy, peasy so far! Nothing to this “assembly required” stuff!

The bottom shelf was the most difficult part.

When I was attaching the bottom shelf, there was a moment when all four legs were flopping around that I thought I had overreached myself, that this was beyond me. But I got control of the situation one pole at a time until all four legs were snug and at the same place on each pole. As it turned out, this was the most difficult part of the whole project.

Then I set one of my clear storage bins on the shelf to help in figuring where I wanted the second and third shelves. They could be placed anywhere. I marked two places on each pole with tape. Then I was ready to get it finished.

Second shelf was much easier.

The second shelf was next. I put the clips on first, slid the shelf over all four poles and down over the clips. I snugged them into place and made sure all were at the same level.

Third shelf easy, peasy.

Then I did the same for the third shelf and then the top one. Total time was two-and-one-half hours from the time I started sawing through the box. That also counted writing most of this blog post and taking photos.

I did it! I got it all put together!!!

Whew! I’m so relieved that it’s done. Putting the shelving together was the only part of the “office reorganization project” I didn’t know if I could do. I knew I could do all the rest, just wasn’t looking forward to it. So I need to start moving some furniture and other stuff out of the closet and start going through all the tote bags, thinning out and organizing what I want to keep. I’ll try to put a couple hours into it each day until it’s done. Now that the shelving is put together, I don’t have any more excuses!

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#238–Books by locals worth checking out . . .

Last week, I used my story of going from my best year in 2019 to my absolute worst with no sales since March 1 as an example of how many local authors are being affected by the shutdown due to the pandemic. The post was a plea to support local authors, and I listed my books with their reduced prices during the shutdown.

To give my readers more choices, this week I’m recommending books from 16 other local authors whom I know. By local, I mean from Eugene, Florence, and towns north and south of Florence on the coast. Some books came out years ago and some just this past year. Most of these authors have written several books, of which any would be good to read. I happen to have picked ones that I particularly liked. They cover a wide range from fiction to nonfiction including murder and madness on the coast that is totally true. All are a good read or a good reference book to have. I’ve also listed where to acquire these books.

  • William Sullivan (Eugene)––Best known as a writer of Oregon hiking guides, he has written quite a variety of books. My favorite is about his family’s cabin near the coast––Cabin Fever. I’ve seen Bill at book fairs and attended more than one of his workshops.  (This book is both Fiction & Nonfiction.) http://www.oregonhiking.com
  • Bob Welch (Eugene)––One of Oregon’s most notable writers and a newspaper columnist for decades, he can write about anything. I loved the books that were a compilation of his columns, especially his first one––My Oregon. And Pebble in the Water which chronicles his four years of research in order to be able to write American Nightingale. I’ve seen Bob at book fairs and attended his workshops. (Nonfiction) bobwelch.net

  • Tracy L. Markley (Florence)––Tracy is a personal trainer with an amazing knowledge of the human body—especially the muscles. I’m partial to two of her books because I edited them––Stroke Recovery and The Power of Your Spine. But the one that is most useful for me is Tipping Toward Balance. (Nonfiction) http://www.tracymarkley.com

  • Marcia Phillips (Florence)––Lighthouses of Oregon: A coloring and history book. There are several books about the lighthouses, but this is the only combo coloring/history book. And it is intended for adults as well as children. (Nonfiction) http://www.drawing4Nature.co

  • Pattie Brooks Anderson (Florence)––Star and Raven’s Legend is also a children’s book about one of the world’s rarest bears, the Spirit Bears of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, and it has the goal of helping children through knowledge become better stewards of the land. I love this book and its wonderful illustrations by the author. It’s another book that I edited. (Fiction) www.amazon.com/Star-Ravens-Legend-Spirit-Rainforest/dp/1544172338
  • Andrea Scharf (Yachats)––Saving Big Creek is the true story of how a persistent group of activists blocked a multi-million-dollar resort. This is a well-researched book that chronicles the nearly 40-year battle. I know Andrea from my years at Oregon Coast magazine. (Nonfiction) http://www.savingbigcreek.com
  • T. McCracken (Waldport)––Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult. Although T. McCracken is a cartoonist, this book covers a serious and unbelievable chapter in the history of the Waldport area that happened more than 100 years ago. T. McCracken and I were involved with coastal Elderhostels in early 2000s. (Nonfiction) www.amazon.com/Holy-Rollers-Murder-Madness-Oregons/dp/0870044249
  • Sue Fagalde Lick (Newport)––Sue is an author of several books and a fellow blogger on the coast whom I’ve seen over the years at various writing events. My favorite of her books is Shoes Full of Sand that chronicles her and her husband’s life after moving from San Jose, CA, to the coast. I could relate, since my late husband and I did the same thing from San Jose some years earlier. (Nonfiction)  www.amazon.com/Shoes-Full-Sand-Fagalde-Lick/dp/0983389411

  • Lori Tobias (Newport)––During my years as an editor at Oregon Coast magazine, Lori was a freelancer who contributed articles. She also was a regular coast writer for The Oregonian. I enjoyed her novel Wander so much, I bought two of them. She is another writer I see at book fairs. (Fiction) www.amazon.com/Wander-Lori-Tobias/dp/1597099899

  • Ron Lovell (Gleneden Beach)––Many of his mysteries take place on the coast. I love reading about familiar places in his books. Although, my favorite of his books is Yaquina White, which is a mystery that takes place in the Arctic. I’ve known Ron for years and see him each year at book fairs.  (Fiction)  www.amazon.com/Yaquina-White-Thomas-Martindale-Mystery/dp/0976797860
  • H.S. Contino (Coos Bay)––Shipwrecks of Coos County and Shipwrecks of Curry County. Because these books are published by Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America Series, each one is filled with at least 180 photographs from south coast museums. Together these books cover the shipwrecks of the southern Oregon coast. Hannah is another author that I see at book fairs each year. (Nonfiction) www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9780738581576    www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467125482 
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