Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Harvest of the Worm

I'm not a worm fan. I have handled worms, mind you, have considered having a worm farm in my house, and I have used worms to fish in the past. But I do not recall every fishing for bait. Meaning I don't remember ever digging up worms.

I respect worms and their role in life. It's a distant respect though. I like them in the ground, where they belong. Occasionally I am resigned to touch one if necessary to lour a fish. I do not, however, wish to navigate vast seas of them retreating slimily into the ground while I walk across my back yard.

My small town is not known for it's plethora of annual rainfall. Nonetheless there is an occasional bout of precipitation. I think this sends my dry-side minded worms into a state of delirium as they struggle topside in an effort to . . . breathe? Or what is it worms do above ground? Do they have lungs? Do they need to be in the air to absorb oxygen through their skin? And if this is in fact necessary, how do they survive underground, surrounded by close packed dirt? They are indeed a conundrum to me.

Despite my mild curiosity, I still almost gag at the sheer volume of the tubular intruders basking in my backyard during a good rainfall. Just tonight I went out to walk Lewis, and my stroll across the yard felt more like a tiptoe across a minefield as dozens of waterlogged worms retreated sub-level beneath my tread.

Not only this, but they climb my porch steps. How does a worm climb?! I have no idea. But in the morning, there they are, dry and abandoned on the concrete, a good three feet above the moistened soil they were trying to avoid.

So the bottom line is, I don't enjoy interacting with worms. Not grubs. Not nightcrawlers. Not maggoty things. No worms. Period. Fisherman of the world, please do visit my backyard and thin my wormy population. For this, I would be eternally grateful.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sage Wisdom

I'm sure that parents must get some sort of smug satisfaction when their offspring finally give in and follow a long harped on piece of advice. So this is for my mom. Fortunately for me, she never uses a computer, so no smug satisfaction for her!

The tidbit of advice in question would be my mom's constant adage: wear gloves! I am not a glove wearer. Gloves are designed to create a barrier between you and the object of interest. I'm kind of a tactile person, so if I am digging around in the dirt or otherwise working with my hands, the gloves really take much away from the entire experience.

This of course means that my hands are tattered with scars, scratches, hangnails, bruises, dirty fingernails, and the like, but I figure that just comes with the territory. I do have to admit however, that I have encountered one thing that has made me into a glove wearing believer. Allow me to introduce you to him:
This is a grub. I have never encountered a real grub before digging around in the soil of my small town. Around here, they appear to be everywhere. As you can see, he is fat, he is juicy, he has little legs that suction cup to your fingers. These are not things I am into.

So, just like that, I am now a glove wearer. Not all the time mind you, but when digging in unfamiliar soil, these hands are covered at all times. No juicy grub is going to suction his little feet to my fingers any time in the near future. So to my mom, if she ever reads this, she can happily say she told me so.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Early to Bed

I love going to bed early. It makes me giddy. This is exactly what I look like when I go to bed early:

Well, minus the part about that being a boy, but you get the point.

Even though I love going to bed early, sometimes I get a wild hair notion that staying up late would be fun. I will stay up late, I think. I will watch a movie and eat popcorn and it will be fun! So I proceed to select something typically kind of dumb off of Netflix. I settle in with my popcorn, and happily crunch away for about 10-20 minutes.

Once the popcorn is finished and the clock has struck 9:01 p.m., I suddenly start to feel tired. My eyes feel gritty after a day of contact wearing. This is only exacerbated by staring at the movie. I start to wonder why I am even watching this movie, and shouldn't I got to bed? At this point I am so far into it, dumb or not, I still want to see how it ends.

Next my arms start to feel restless. You know how people talk about Restless Leg Syndrome. Well, I have Restless Arm Syndrome. When I get tired, my arms get very restless. They want to move and jump around. No matter how I position them, they drive me crazy to the point of wanting to dismantle them from my body and set them aside for later.

Once again, the thought that I should just go to bed runs through my mind. But now I am tired. And I get to thinking about all the stuff I have to do to prepare for bed. And it seems like so much work now that I am so tired. So might as well just sit there and finish the dumb movie.

Eventually I can't take it anymore. The clock has struck 10 p.m., and I have had it. Grumpy and tired, I drag myself through the getting ready for bed activities, and by the time I am there, this is my state of mind:

People often give me a hard time about my propensity to go to bed early. I have noticed, however, that when babies get tired and fussy, usually people recognize they need to go to bed. They are wrapped in a warm blanket and given a bedtime story and rocked to sleep. This sounds ideal to me. Perhaps I should start training Lewis to be a nanny. Or, I could just go to bed early . . .

Monday, April 16, 2012


Typically when working on repetitious, mundane tasks, I find random songs popping into my head and then running over and over again. (Thanks to a friend on Facebook, a recent song was "Baby monkey, riding backwards on a pig, baby monkey". But that's another story.)

During a recent mundane task, the Cheers theme song was running through my head all day. I believed this stemmed from my brother spending quite a bit of time in my small town lately. Coming from a large city, he is rather flabbergasted by customs of the residents of my small town. People stop by on the sidewalk and talk to us about random things. One of his favorite phrases while here is, "Dude, what is up with the people in this town?"

And this is where the Cheers theme song came in. The song says, "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name". Another line says, "you want to go where people know, people are all the same". And I guess I have to wonder if that is true. Because recent conversations I have had with many people would imply that they would prefer just the opposite. They don't want everyone to know their name. And they definitely don't want people to be all the same.

I have been accused of being old-fashioned before, boring in fact. And many times I feel like I was born several decades too late. I mean, yes, I can see why anonymity has some appeal because then you never have to feel uncomfortable being vulnerable around other people.

But what's to say that feeling uncomfortable with being vulnerable isn't just another part of life that we have to get used to. Over time, it would seem less awkward I think. And I think the song is true. I think maybe there is a part in everyone's heart that wants to be known by name to other people. I think that most people want to feel like they are understood by others.

And I believe that the heart of a small town can be found anywhere, just by choosing to set anonymity aside and introduce yourself by name. By letting someone know that your struggles or joys or whatever are the same. And maybe the song is just repetitious because it's that simple and that true.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I think I might be part bear. I say this because there is definitely a temperature above which my body and mind function optimally. Anything below that and I am ready to hibernate. Unfortunately I think that optimum temperature is 70 degrees, but hey, we all have our limitations.

This is a common North American Wood Frog. Every winter the frog freezes solid, then thaws in spring to go about doing whatever it is frogs do. I'm North American, so it makes sense that I would do the same thing. And to support my cause for less than optimal functioning at low temperatures, I would imagine that the frog's motivation gets a little lower when it is frozen, not to mention it's kinda hard to move. I'm just saying.

Hibernation is characterized by slowed metabolism, slowed breathing, and lowered temperature. Typically animals hibernate during periods of food scarcity so that they can conserve energy. Prior to hibernation, they consume large quantities of food to build up body fat off of which they survive during hibernation. I like this idea. Eat a ton, get fat, work it off by sleeping, wake up and do it all over again.

The alternative is moving to Florida, which I wasn't planning on doing until I was 95 or so, but it is starting to look more appealing all the time.

Yeah, that's more like it. True, Florida has it's drawbacks like alligators and man-eating pythons, but hey, they don't hibernate right? So it must be warmer. My mind and body are starting to function more optimally just thinking about it . . .

Friday, April 13, 2012


You know how they say that most women are multitaskers? I would like to make a case that what appears to be multitasking is actually just being caught up in a series of distractions while trying to accomplish one task.

So yesterday I needed to go to the grocery store. This required a list because no matter how few items I actually need to get at the store, I will always forget something unless I have a list. The list required paper, which I swore had just been lying on the kitchen counter the other day. My small pad of post-it notes were missing. Despite the fact that they were obviously not there, I continued to stare at the counter top because, I swear, they were just there the other day.

After they did not magically materialize, I finally gave in and headed to the office for some more post-its. On the way, I noticed my computer and decided to write yesterday's blog about windmills. This required searching through many windmill photos trying to find just the right one (which I never did. I just had to settle). After getting that all finished up, well, what the heck, why not just check Facebook since I'm already on the computer.

Forty minutes later I am ready to head to the office for the post-it notes. This is not before checking in the kitchen just one more time in case they had decided to return. While there, I see some papers that need shredding lying around, so I figure, since I'm headed to the office anyway, may as well get those in a pile and take them with me.

But suddenly I decide to be hungry. I doubt I even was hungry, but I was in the kitchen, and since there is food so close by, may as well eat some. So I grab a carrot. Since the fridge is so close to the back door, I walk over and look out the back windows at Lewis in the yard, just to make sure he looks like he's doing okay. And of course I love Lewis and love to look at him, so I stare at him for awhile, thoughtfully crunching on my carrot.

Walking back to get the papers to shred in the office, I remember I need to start some laundry, so I take a detour into my closet and get the clothes. I get the washer started and then grab the papers and take them to the office. I shred them. Then I get the post-its, take them into the kitchen, and make a list.

Finally I get all ready to leave for the store but notice some flour or something on the counter next to the stove. While cleaning it off, I look at the little shelf right at my eye level and there, sitting with a pen conveniently located next to them, are the post-it notes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feels Like Home

Having driven through Palm Springs several years ago, I was startled by the vastness of the ugliness of the fields of windmills down there. Here in the Columbia Gorge, we have been working for years on our own wind project: a supposed cash cow that mars the landscape daily with its rows of white giants and nightly with its ceaselessly blinking red lights. No longer is the night sky filled with stars and infinity, but rather glaring red reminders of the boundaries imposed by the constant sentinels.

Despite my distaste for our wind project, I have grown accustomed to the presence of the windmills. I even have to admit to a certain fondness for them. Please allow me to explain myself. I grew up in the Portland area, west of there really, and while my time was predominantly spent growing up in a subdivision, I was a mere 10-15 minutes away from the bliss of country and open spaces.

Growing up on the west side, it never actually occurred to me that there were places in the world where it didn't rain nine months out of the year. Not until moving to the east side for college were my eyes opened to the wonderful world of the dry side. Suddenly I was able to go outside every single day of the year. Even during the fall and winter it may rain some, but it always stopped at some point during the day and the out of doors were mine to be had. Now I had arrived: rural land and little rain. I knew I had found my place.

So here is the windmill correlation. I visit family in the Portland area rather frequently, but my spirits always lift when I leave the big city behind. Driving east, I wait in eager anticipation to see one thing. Just before I get to highway 97, there is a big curve to the right, then to left. On the start of the curve to the left, the tips of large blades emerge over the hilltops, slicing their way through the Gorge wind . . . and I know I am home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Splash Down

Several summers ago I was camping with a group of friends and decided to take Lewis for a walk. I think it was late summer in Eastern Washington, and the ticks were out with some force. Not that that is a necessary point in the story, but I just wanted you to know there were lots of ticks.

Anyway, Lewis and I are walking through a wheat field. Okay, wait, it couldn't have been late summer because the wheat was still green. So it was whatever time of year wheat is green and about three feet tall and there are lots of ticks.

So we are walking, or rather I am walking and Lewis is frolicking. Keeping in mind that Lewis is only eleven inches tall, he can't exactly see over the three-foot-high wheat. Lost in my own thoughts, it took me a second to register that Lewis's wheat frolicking movements were headed toward the five foot cliff and the rushing river. Next thing I know, the little guy emerges from the wheat field and flies off the cliff, splashing into the rushing river.

Initially he swam for an island, but at the last minute he looked over his shoulder and saw me standing on the opposite shore, so he changes course and attempts to swim for me. Meanwhile he is being swept away, and I am running (yes, Cherelyn, I did run) along the edge, trying to figure out where I can jump down and try to grab him.

He sweeps by an eddy, just out of my grasp. Then he gets snagged up in some debris further down the river. In a moment of Indiana Jones bravado, I grabbed a dangling tree root and repelled down to where he was, only to have him be swept under the debris and come out on the other side.

Fortunately there was a sandbar on the other side that he swept onto. I told him to stay there, climbed back up the cliff, trotted down to the sandbar, and hauled him up to safety. And I'm telling you, if a dog could talk, this is what he would have said: "That was awesome! Can I do it again?!"

I think this experience could be taken two ways. One way is to tread safely and slowly through the wheat, making sure to check carefully before plunging ahead. Another way is to frolic while you can, swim like crazy, and no matter how scared you were, look at the whole thing as a great adventure. I think I'm with Lewis on this one.