Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Thanks for sending "Dam It" (yes, the real name) to Osprey Magazine (no, not the real name) -- and forgive me for the amount of time that has passed since your submission. (four months) All of us at Osprey Magazine were happy to have the chance to consider the piece, but I must take credit for the delayed reply. (um, okay, and ?!)
Though we admired many things about the piece, (that’s nice) we unfortunately must pass. (that’s not) As you know, Osprey Magazine only publishes six issues a year, (even though you get an email from us weekly) which means decision-making is always quite difficult.
Thanks again, Kelly (at least he didn’t call me Kitty), for considering Osprey Magazine as a home for your writing. (but sorry, you’re still homeless) Best wishes for a peaceful and productive fall.
James Audubon (not his real name)
On behalf of Osprey Magazine's editorial staff
Sunday, July 22, 2012
and mascots if they depict Native Americans. I was personally relieved to see Siletz on this list, since they are our neighbors back home in Waldport. Waldport, incidentally, is the home of the Fighting Irish until someone named Paddy gets a wild hair about that one. Siletz High School is actually located on a Native American reservation and my kids and I have attended powwows in their gym where everyone simply danced together. As a soverign nation, I think they should be allowed to judge for themselves whether or not their mascot incited any bullying of, well, themselves.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
We set up chairs and an umbrella, slathered sunscreen on our glowing rainforest skin, and hit the water. It was calm, clear and warm. We were in Lake Michigan! I swam down the shore while Mike played with the kids. Happy when wet, I was in Heaven. We spent the entire afternoon enjoying every minute. The kids played for hours in the water while Mike and I relived our Peace Corps days, reminding me of the saying, “Old people like the olden days best because they were younger then.” We immersed ourselves in Jamaica so thoroughly we were surprised whenever the kids interrupted. “What? Where did you come from?” we asked, feeling like we were 24 and sipping a Red Stripe on Doctors Cave Beach.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The kids were lost in the land of Mordor so I began listening to Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” in which he set off in 1960 from Maine to rediscover America. It was interesting to hear his observations from the year just before my birth (yes, Bella, they actually had cars when I was born) while observing this fair land for myself some 50 years later. And on its birthday. “Nearly every American hungers to move,” he informed. No kidding, I said to myself, shifting in my seat. We met in Fargo which, as I learned from John, is the halfway point of our land, east to west. Sure enough, we folded Bella’s map and there on the edge sat Far-go. Steinbeck’s Fargo had a population of 40K but three times as many folks had flocked to the state’s largest city in the interim, along with the four white pelicans I spotted circling in the ND sky. “The only good writer is a dead writer. Then he couldn’t surprise anyone any more, couldn’t hurt anyone any more,” Steinbeck reminded me. Hmmm.
At 45-feet, the Casselton Can Pile is actually the world's largest pile of, yes, cans. It was created in 1933 by Max Taubert at what was then a Sinclair gas station. Max, who I like to think of as a frustrated artist stuck pumping gas in the squirrel capital of North Dakota, began tossing oil cans in a pile around an old windmill tower, perhaps as an act of rebellion, perhaps simply because recycling wasn’t an option. Until one day when he finished yet one more oil change and had an epiphany. A glint of sunlight shone straight down from the heavens and Max began to visualize his life’s purpose. Most of the cans, naturally, were Sinclair oil cans whose logo is the dinosaur-formerly-known-as-Brontosaurus, which is now called Apatosaurus or by the more technical name of “long-necks,” thanks to the Land Before Time series.
Fun fact. Maybe you already know this, but the Brontosaurus “mix-up” goes back to 1879, when a paleontologist who shall remain nameless (hint: a male who was also clearly terrible at jigsaw puzzles) stuck the wrong head on an Apatosaurus body and called it a Brontosaurus. Sticking with the less-controversial Land Before Time nomenclature, this “plant eater” was displayed at Yale for almost a century until scientists discovered the mismatch. Woopsy! But instead of politely playing along like the Native Americans at Pompey’s Pillar, they struck Brontosaurus from their books. And when the US Postal Service tried to issue a stamp in 1989 with the Brontosaurus on it? Well, it’s been all downhill ever since for them. Even though the incorrect name still lingers in people’s minds, like my own. But I still struggle to say sea star too.
Anyhoo, in 1932, a lengthy campaign was begun by Sinclair to choose their mascot, the squirrel already being taken. They discarded the more frightening T-Rex and Dino was born out of a desire to express the fact that Sinclair oil came from Pennsylvania crude oil, which was millions of years old, and had been around since the age of the dinosaurs. The company believed that the oldest crude oils make the best refined oils, and they felt that a dinosaur would get this point across to the public. The peaceful plant eater, whatever his name was, appealed to the public and garnered the most interest. According to the internet, like most of this, people thought that the Brontosaurus represented power, endurance, and stamina, which are the qualities that Sinclair Oil Corporation wanted people to associate with their products. But in spite of how much brain energy Sinclair credited us with dedicating to oil, be it crude or refined, the truth is I rarely, if ever, think about it. Although unlike what I dare to say are “most” Americans these days, I did actually know that oil and gas are fossil fuels which means they may or may not include the remains of dinosaurs, a subject of much healthy debate, it seems.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Our book on tape for the day was “Witches,” a good Roald Dahl selection which kept us entertained from Butte to Bozeman to Billings. After 450 miles on I-90, we’d traversed 13 counties, all bigger than the state of Rhode Island with or without the water (http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/how-big-is-rhode-island-anyway-214) and switched to I-94 at Billings for the last little 250-mile stretch to North Dakota. (Fun fact: you can fit 95 Rhode Islands in Montana.) As you probably already know but I only just now discovered on Wikipedia, I-94 is the only purely east–west interstate to form a direct connection into a foreign country, namely Canada. Facinating. Here, the Rocky Mountain high receded in my rear-view mirror like a John Denver song as the landscape changed from the majestic peaks the state was named for (Montana is Spanish for, you guessed it, mountains!) to simpler sandstone buttes which appear to be the inspiration for those layered candles we used to make as Girl Scouts at the beach. As depicted by these photos which are not from Wikipedia. Although they could be.
But before we move on, the reeeallly interesting thing about PP is that the monument bears the only remaining physical evidence of the entire Corps of Discovery Expedition, appearing today on the sands of time exactly as it did 200 years ago, as far as we can tell. For it was right here on July 25, 1806 that Captain Clark, perhaps not realizing that some day this would be illegal, saw fit to carve his name on the face of the butte. By then, he was on the second half of his two-year stroll across the country so perhaps was feeling a bit nostalgic and wanted to leave his mark as a momento, fearing he’d never return. It was, indeed, the trip of a lifetime before I-94 and cars and all.
Now, mind you, the Native Americans had already given this big butte the perfectly fine name of "the place where the mountain lion lies," which I actually prefer. I like to imagine the possibilities of how the story might have ended if, say, a mountain lion had jumped on Clark as he was busy defacing our national monument, perhaps even breaking his carving tool. I know kids who’ve been kicked out of school for doing the same thing, after all. (Yet another reminder not to try this at home.) But, as usual, the Native Americans were too cool to correct Clark’s ambition. Or perhaps they were all preoccupied with party planning for Custer’s welcome hoopla which was coming right up just south on I-90 in another 70 years or so, a mere blip on their calendar.
Had we been driving at the end of July on or around the 25th, we might have enjoyed “Clark Days” with the PP Historical Association. Then we could have “reenacted” Clark’s canoe voyage by floating down the Yellowstone, arriving in the afternoon at the Pillar-formerly-known-as-the-place-where-the-mountain-lion-lies to stroll along the boardwalk where we could view the defacing signature and then enjoy a traditional buffalo barbeque complete with entertainment. Most of which didn’t actually happen after Clark sharpened his stick in 1806. But it was only July 3. We were too early and all this was lost on us anyway as we sped on.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
On Monday I chaperoned Bella’s class field trip to Yaquina Head, a point of land jutting into the Pacific featuring a lighthouse and tide pools. It used to be an easy diversion for whale watching or tide pooling and we stopped there many times but now it’s an outstanding natural area run by the BLM which translates to $25 per car if you want to find some sea stars in your spare time. Sigh.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
. . . some days feathers, as my Mom is fond of saying. And that is how I found myself cursing both the electric company and my husband this morning.
The hardest thing I have to do each day is get up. I am not a morning person. I abhor alarm clocks. And I am not fit for conversation until at least one sip of coffee has burned my tired lips. But each morning as a single parent with a husband, I make myself get out of bed, hit the cold floor, struggle to pull my UGGS on, shuffle to the stove, turn on the flame beneath the kettle by giving it a little blow to connect the gas with the pilot light (a tiny idiosyncrasy which takes morning breath to a new level), wake up the kids, skip to the loo, and crumple up school papers and AARP bulletins to start the fire in the wood stove. By then, the kettle is screaming at me and I commence the ritual of making Tico coffee--pouring hot water in the opening of a sock stretched around a wire frame into which I have already scooped what remains of my Costa Rican coffee stash, then witnessing with delight the miracle of clear water going in the top and coffee pouring out the bottom into the waiting pot below which used to belong to my Gringo coffeemaker until it broke.
In the meantime, I heat the milk and slice bread for toast or throw a couple waffles in the toaster for the kiddies. By the time they emerge from their yurt, their breakfast is ready and I am savoring the first sip from my bowl of coffee in lieu of an IV and greet them, pretending to function, while the caffeine infuses my bloodstream. I gulp down as much as I can before we rush off to catch Isaiah’s car pool, drop Bella at school and I drive back home, slowing to admire one or two elk herds along the way, where the mudroom is now warm and the yurts are all mine. I heat up another cup of kindercoffee, stuff more wood in the stove, fire up my computer, and savor the caffeine and silence while the world wide web warms up at my fingertips. The morning is mine, usually. The afternoons are not. Nor are the evenings.
And so it was this morning. As usual, I perused my email for things that needed doing, searched the web for issues from my morning NPR fix, opened Facebook and checked my Words with Friends, scanning posts for need-to-know items like what my FB friends are making for dinner (which is always better than anything I’ve planned, like Top Ramen) opened my latest book project, and began to multi-task for the morning between all these things and more.
By 9:30 I had already looked up the author of a book like mine (except that his is published) as well as opening an email message box to him while pondering whether or not I should actually write to him and, if so, what I should say as well as checking the submission requirements of his publisher. I was in the middle of six games of Words with Friends and was actively playing with two of them on and off. I’d read the morning email trail which included a potential afternoon field trip I might want to go on today. I was in the middle of writing a press release and had my book project open and had jotted down some ideas for that. I’d noted that there was an earthquake in Alaska but no tsunami was expected. Good. And noted that there was an office depot order tracking email in my inbox for a Kelly Kittel-Roby on an order I definitely did not place under an alias I've never used for something called Premium Protection and Optimization, $77 and, of all things, Internet Security Service at an additional $12.50.
I had a row or two of documents open on the bottom of my screen, effectively in the middle of at least eight different things and just getting started on all of them, really, when the power went off. The computer screen went black. The yurt became silent except for the crackling of the wood in the stove. Just like that.
“What the *&%^?,” I said out loud.
Now, the last time I checked, the Oregon coast was not considered a part of the third world. But this was our third power outage in two months and the last one was just last Tuesday. I looked out the window even tho I already knew it was an unusually stellar day because they’d been talking about it all week like they were expecting the second coming—sunny, no wind, warming to the ‘60’s no less. After snow and temps in the 30’s the past few mornings, it was rather like a miracle. Clearly, the weather was not to be blamed. But perhaps that solar storm I'd heard about on NPR? I double-checked, but no, I had not somehow forgotten that I'd moved to Costa Rica either.
So I ran around the yurt unplugging all major power cords with fun solar storm NPR facts running thru my head like "a solar Katrina traveling at 2.7 million mph" and "interplanetary magnetic field" and, my personal favorite, "coronal mass ejection." And besides all these fun phrases, when the power came back on after the first outage in January, it came on with a vengeance that blew out two different power outlets and we don’t have many to begin with here in the "simple" life.
Then I plugged in the old-fashioned dial phone we got after the January outage when we went with no phone or power for three days.
Then I found my colorful cheater glasses and looked up the power company number in one of our 50 phone books which are all slightly different but with equally tiny text and arrive weekly in our mailbox like some kind of collusion between the phone company(-ies) and postal service to justify their outdated existence in a changing world. "See? You still need both of us to deliver these weekly updated phone books!"
Then I proceeded to call the wrong company (because here in the third world we have three electric power providers for this great service, don't ask me why), calling and pressing one three times as well as entering my phone number and whatever else the recorded voices asked with no success, possibly because I was calling Central Lincoln PUD and later I found out our provider is Consumers Power. Who knew? (More on that later.) So, I called the local number and left a scathing message asking the likes of why on earth on a sunny day I had no service and had I forgotten to pay my bill or was it the solar storm and this was the third time this year and on and on until I ran out of breath and hung up.
Then I did what I should have done in the first place. I called Andy. Except that I didn’t call him first because I knew if I did he’d ask if I’d called the power company to report the outage and I knew this because that was what he'd said last Tuesday when I called him first and had to admit that, “no,” I had not, conditioned as I was to living in the tropics with regular outages and simply waiting it out. This time I could reply, “why, yes." In fact, of course I had. (Later I would receive a nice message from Terri at Central Lincoln PUD saying that I must have dialed the wrong number. Andy, of course, as usual, being the guy "who knew.")
“Good morning, honey,” he said unsuspectingly.
“Do you know why we don’t have any power? Again?” I asked. (I might have said "hi," first, I forget.)
“Oh, ah, yeah, they scheduled an outage for this morning from 9 to 11, they called last night and left a message on my cell phone and I got it this morning,” he said.
Do I really need to describe to you my reaction upon hearing this “news” from my husband of 23 years who asked me 8 years ago why I couldn’t read his mind yet and who was happily going about his power-filled day three hours away in Portland? What did he think I did all morning anyway? What if I wanted a piece of toast?
“Yeah, well,” I began, “why on earth didn’t you call and tell me? This is the third time the computer has had a hard shut-down,” I began, the lecture I’d received from our computer guy about the perils of a “hard shut-down” beginning to scroll through my head.
“Oh, the computer . . .,” he said, after which I began to unleash the torrent of my fury on him and he said, “I have to go,” and hung up.
That was helpful. I hoped he could read my mind right about then.
And so that is also how I came to be sitting in my car at the Waldport Laundromat wasting my sunny day waiting for our clothes to wash while listening to NPR who was finished with solar storms apparently and had moved on, informing me that today is International Women’s Day which is celebrated in a variety of lovely ways around the world and that, for example, in Italy, right then, men were giving the women they love bouquets of flowers. And I was sitting there eating a maple bar. Which I could barely taste because I have the second of what will hopefully be only two colds in succession but I was eating it anyway because I could recall how it tasted and because I am just plain sick of soup. Plus I wanted to chew on something sweet to pair with my salty frustration.
The only thing that might have made me feel even less celebrated (besides having selected the bavarian creme-filled maple bar) would have been if I’d glanced down at my lap and realized, not for the first time, that I was still wearing my Grinch pajama bottoms. As it was, I sat there licking maple frosting from my fingers in what was rapidly becoming way-too-warm black fleece pants and an equally unflattering thermal shirt while picturing the signoras of Italy flouncing about in lovely floral print designer dresses and equally colorful shoes, happily receiving matching spring bouquets, Grazie!, while lunching at outdoor cafes overlooking ancient fountains, sipping chilled wine and sharing forkfuls of fresh pasta and arugula with their adoring lovers. Who may or may not have been their husbands. Probably not, I thought, crumpling up my donut bag.