Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Friday is not for the dogs

My cats were really happy to see me go back to work on Monday, after I'd had four days off with them. Apparently, I annoyed them. I wouldn't let them fight, or saunter across the counters, or snuggle on my black, velour jacket. The worst part of it, though, was while I was sleeping through the madness of the middle-of-the-night-Black-Friday-frenzy, one of them knocked over my purse and took my credit card. Later, just in time, I found him at my computer. He was on the Petsmart website, trying to buy cat treats. He already had 700 dollars worth of cat toys in the shopping cart.

Wilson Afonso from Sydney, Australia

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sometimes orders are useless

End of Thanksgiving Weekend

I drove down to Oregon to visit my parents today. It was a high-speed windshield wiper drive, both going down and coming back. The kind where traffic is traveling under the speed limit, and passing a truck is like crawling through a car wash.
So, by the time I got near my parents and saw this Peet's Coffee and Tea truck, and read the "Follow me to the grocery store!" on the back of the truck, I was ready to obey the order.

It took a half hour for me to realize the truck was parked.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankful for Vancouver

Thanksgiving Week

Every year, around this time, I try to notice all the wonderful things worthy of heartfelt thanks, because I'm thankful, yes, but also in case someone gets the bright idea--around the Thanksgiving table--to make everyone mention why we are thankful. During those times I gaze at the ceiling, and can think of nothing. I'm hoping by posting this, that I'll remember enough to blather out some of the below, instead of having to say the usual, "Um...I'm just thankful...ah," and all the family gathered round the table stare, with eyebrows lifted in encouragement and some of them even nod their heads as if that will help me think of something, " family. Yes. And, um, for this meal. And for dessert. There is something for dessert, right?"

How lame is that?

So without further ado, let me take you on a tour of things to be thankful for in Vancouver, Washington. Because it really is a beautiful place, a nice photo opportunity.

Photo of photographer, photographing a family on Officer's Row

Ester Short Park

Ester Short Park is located in downtown Vancouver and is the oldest public square in the state of Washington. It was given to the city by Ester Short back in 1853. If you look all the way across the park, you'll see a silver vehicle which is parked in front of the Ester Short Starbucks. This is important information in case you are planning to visit our city.

Army Air Corps
Pearson Field

Pearson Field is a lovely, small airport, located just behind/beside Fort Vancouver and houses the lovely Pearson Air Museum. If you look in the background you'll see our own Mt. Hood.

Mt. Hood

Okay, I took a close-up of Mt. Hood. Technically, it isn't Vancouver's mountain, since it is actually located in Oregon, and we don't pay any taxes on it. Which makes it all the more endearing to us.

Columbia River, taken from Fort Vancouver Park with PDX in the background

Technically, the part of the Columbia River from the east side of Vancouver, to the west side, belongs to Vancouver. It is what separates the "Normal Vancouver" Washington from the "Weird Portland" Oregon. However, we let Oregon share in the taxes, and even allowed them to place the airport along its banks.

Fort Vancouver is also the home of the Fort Vancouver Fireworks on the 4th of July every year. It is one of the best shows in the nation.

Fort Vancouver Promenade

One of the loveliest spots in Vancouver is the above promenade. It runs along the river and provides ample opportunity for runners, power walkers, dog walkers, strollers, skaters, bicyclists, joggers, and people on scooters to breath in the fresh air while watching sailing vessels and barges floating along the Columbia.

Vancouver Library, 2011

Vancouver has new condos, hotels, parks and libraries, but it also has old, historic sites. This picture shows the old and the new. Above, you see young trees outside of the library, but in the reflection of the library building, you see old, tall Douglas firs.

Fort Vancouver, Tower

Vancouver is fortunate to have its own fort, located along the Columbia River. It was built in the 19th century.
Hudson's Bay Company

Fort Vancouver was not a military fort, but was a fur trading post for the Hudson's Bay Company.

Fort Vancouver

It is now a National Historic Site and is part of the U.S. National Park Service. You may stroll behind the gates of the fort to experience life in the mid 1800's at this facility. They make hard-tack and have trading beads, and Hudson's Bay blankets, and lots of people who appear to be straight out of history.

Marshall House, Officer's Row

The Marshall House is on Officer's Row, and is available to the public to rent for weddings, parties and my birthday.

Lantern Tours

Schedule today. You won't be sorry. Unless you are afraid of ghosts.

Officer's Row

I've read that most of the houses on Officer's Row have ghosts. I've not seen one, but others claim to have spotted them.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and I'm thankful to live here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anything you say can be used against you

Do you ever have privacy in a cubical jungle? No, but let's not admit it to anyone.

Today, my co-worker in the next cubical, told me she'd invited another co-worker, Cory, for Thanksgiving.

"Her kids are going over to their dad's house, so she would have been alone. All her family is in another state," Ronnie said.

"So is she going?" I asked.

"Yes, she accepted." Ronnie confirmed.

"I'm glad," I said. "She is so sweet."

From across the room, Lynn's soft voice floated over the tops of the cubicals. "Who's sweet?"

"We don't want to say," I chirped, teasing Lynn. "We don't want to spread rumors."

"But I want to know. Who's sweet? Who are you talking about."

I snorted. "We don't want to say. What if we're wrong?"

A moment followed when only the click of keyboards could be heard. "I still want to know who you were talking about," Lynn said from across the room.

I grinned. "We were talking about you, Lynn. You are sweet."

Silence followed for a couple of computer beeps. "Huhn," Lynn said. "And I thought you were talking about Cory."

Good thing we hadn't been discussing government secrets. They have cubicals there, too, don't they?

Note: Names changed to protect the guilty.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Success Story

I went to my friend, Susan's wedding reception on Friday, 11/11/11. She was married at 11 am, and although I wasn't there for the wedding itself, apparently my name was mentioned in the wedding ceremony. Years ago, Susan wanted to place an advertisement on some dating website. The horror of these websites is that you must post a picture of yourself. I discovered quite by accident that if you are leaning over something, like a counter, or desk, that all of the double chins disappear, making you look way younger. But how do you make that look natural?

Susan said, "I know just the place. We'll go take pictures of each other this weekend, and we'll each post an ad on Sunday evening. We can compare the responses we get, and weed out the ones who aren't serious."

I wasn't enthusiastic. I didn't think posting an ad was the best way to find the perfect man, but agreed just to be supportive. That weekend, we went to downtown Vancouver where Susan had found a post we could lean over, and in the background were the Columbia River and the I-5 bridge connecting Washington to Oregon. I brightened. With an interesting background, the men looking at the website would be less inclined to study the person, and more likely to check out the background. Perfect.

I posted my ad on Sunday, and Susan posted hers. Very quickly, she received some lovely responses, met with some nice gentlemen and finally settled on Stuart. He sent her roses, and chocolate, took her to the ballet, the symphony, antique shows, and eventually took her to Seattle to meet her daughter and son-in-law.

She removed her ad. She didn't need it anymore.

And now, years later, after a very long courtship, they are married. And, in the ceremony, they said they owe it all to me. He still has that picture she posted on his desk.

How sweet. I love a good success story. And theirs makes me smile.

I don't have her picture, but above is the one of me. Look at that nice background. And notice you can hardly see any of my chins? How did my ad go? Well, my first response was from a rodeo clown.

No, really.

The second response, I met the man for coffee. He tried to sell me some weight-loss program and, after an hour of trying to be polite, I finally picked up the check for the two coffees and said, "I'll pay for the coffee if you leave the tip."

He left a quarter.

I removed my ad too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good vs. Evil

I suppose you all think this is a blog about writing heros and villains, about the struggle for good to triumph over evil, fairies against warlocks, or the living vs. the undead. And in a way, it is. Sometimes the protagonist/hero we write is not a sword-swinging, swashbuckling, caped crusader, cutting a pink "Z" into the blue fabric of sunset. Sometimes our hero is a quiet, well-mannered, gentleman, whose good deeds go unrecognized by the heroine, until the very end.

Somewhere out there, in Vancouver, is a quiet, unsung hero. No one will ever thank her/him for the good deed. She/he won't be asked to join a talk-show host, or have a reality television show, or make the "good deeds" minute on the local news. But I like to think the cosmic universe will extend a benevolent hand to that person, just the same.


It is such a simple thing, and yet so powerful. It matters. It mattered in 1805, during the time- frame I write. It matters now. I hope it will continue to matter in the future.

A co-worker lost her wallet in Vancouver. She inquired at a grocery store, remembering she'd had it there two days earlier. It had been turned in. We all speculated. Would everything be in it when she got it back? We asked her to let us know, not because of idle curiosity, but because we all wanted our faith in humanity to be validated.

After lunch, she returned to our cubical city, clutching her wallet and beaming. "It's all there," she said. "Everything. There was even $80 in it. I didn't even remember having $80."

Several of us let out a gush of relief and smiled. There are still good people out there. Honorable people. I wonder if our hero added the $80? Maybe she/he opened it and thought, "Wow, this woman is poor," and slipped in a couple of extra twenties. Or maybe I just think of someone with honor as being the kind of person who'd so such a thing. Just like a good super hero.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumn in Oregon City

Oregon City
The end of the Oregon Trail

Today, just above the Willamette Falls on the Willamette River in Oregon City, the sun lights the autumn trees with fiery colors. It is a peaceful scene, but if you listen carefully you can hear the distant roar of the falls and the clickety-clack of the rails as a train approaches on the far side.

Union Pacific engine 7607 is in the lead, matching the color of the trees around it. Very clever of a railroad to paint their engines the same colors as the foliage.

While you are floating down the river, pay attention to that buoy in the top picture because this is what awaits you just a little bit downstream. Pull up your kayaks unless you think you can navigate the 40 foot drop of Willamette Falls.

Taken by Cacophony on September 18, 2004