Saturday, September 29, 2012


and this is why.


But at least I have a great view from my toilet…


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Far Blue Mountains

We’ve been studying Oregon geography this week.  Did you know that Oregon has the Coast Range, a line of mountains (you guessed it) along the coast, and also the Cascade Mountains, a line of mountains running south from the Columbia River?  We live in between the Coast Range and the West Hills of Portland, and that’s good news for visual me.  Because it means that a lot of the time when I’m driving around, I’m seeing these beautiful layers of mountains in the distance.


There are some places now, like the parking lot of the library, passing the Hillsboro airport, or coming out of Portland, where I know that if I look up I’ll see increasingly distant mountains in the distance, and I love it.

My other favorite place for seeing mountains is driving on the interstate in the Columbia River Gorge.  At one point (where I haven’t managed a picture yet) the road curves so that you look straight down the river, and the river appears to end in layer after layer of mountains.  Every time I’ve driven there I’ve regretted the lack of places to pull off the interstate and take pictures.  And the spots on my front windshield that show up in the pictures that I do manage to take, or get my kids to take.  But at least you can get an idea of how beautiful these mountain ranges are…

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PS—in case you’re wondering (which you probably weren’t) about the title of this post, I’ll tell you.  There’s a Louis L’Amour book titled “The Far Blue Mountains.”  I can’t even remember what the book was about, but when I saw these mountain ranges in the distance for the first time the title came to my mind immediately.  And the thought: oh, this is what he meant by the far blue mountains…

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Living on the corner of Bitter and Sweet

A few weeks ago my Goodreads update contained the information that one of my friends was reading the book “The House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.”

I have no idea what the books is about, though I’m told it’s good.  I can’t even remember which friend was reading it.  What I do remember, though, is the feeling that went through me at that moment.

That is where I’m living right now, I thought.  On the corner of bitter and sweet…

There is so much about Oregon that we love.  I find I don’t miss being sweaty every moment I’m outside very much at all.  I love Russ’s super-short commute.  I love the kids being able to go to the elementary school for 30 minutes every day if that’s what we want.  I love that Josh can walk or ride his bike to school.  I love the amazing produce that’s available so easily.  I love that we can drive an hour in one direction and hike in beautiful mountains around incredible waterfalls, and that we can drive 80 minutes in the other direction and be at the coast.  There are moments when life is sweet, indeed.

We started moving into our house this week.  I’m afraid of living in a three bedroom house.  I miss being around people who really know me.  I miss crepe myrtles in bloom and I already know I’m going to miss them like crazy when the leaves have all turned colors.  I miss my wonderful calling and the women I got to associate with.  I miss having friends who can come over on the spur of the moment for dinner and games; I miss the perfect comfort of those friendships.  I am afraid of the long gray wet winter.  I am afraid that my friends will stop needing me.  I am afraid I will never stop needing them.  There are moments when life is oh, so bitter.


Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at these conflicting feelings—bipolar seems to have been a major theme of my year.  I was talking to Russ’s dad a couple of weeks ago and he made a comment that made me take a look at my internal calendar.  What I saw there shocked me.  In 4 weeks, it will have been a year since Russ was laid off.  Since my comfortable life was turned upside down.  I could be Pollyana-ish and talk about how much we’ve learned and grown, how glad I am this happened, whatever.  I won’t, at least not yet.  It’s still all too fresh and the grief still too frequent.  So I guess, at least for now, I’m stuck in this place at the corner of bitter and sweet.  Maybe one day I’ll get to  the corner of bittersweet and sweet.  But today is not that day…

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Homeschooling Meets Food Network

You get “Chopped: the Lunch Edition”

ingredients: salsa, eggs, and pears and pearsauce
(otherwise known as the only things in the fridge)



Jared may not have been impressed (though he was grateful that Rachel made him lunch), but I sure was!

Field Trip #2

Once we got back from our extended vacation and got ready for school to start and started school, I made a new resolution: we must enjoy this glorious weather while we can.  (Which means while it lasts.) 

Our primary method of enjoyment is going to be a field trip day each week until the good weather ends.

When I announced our plan for last Wednesday, it was met with moanings and groanings of all sorts.  No one wanted to go.  Everyone was tired of being in the car.  Couldn’t I go by myself???

But I persisted.  And I insisted.  In they went, and away we drove.

We stopped first to go to the bathroom.

At Multnomah Falls.


Now Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and as such is pretty famous.  Busloads of people speaking all sorts of different languages arrives all day long to look at the beautiful waterfall.

But not us, we were just there for the facilities.

I was a little concerned about the weather, since at noon it was still only about 60 degrees and breezy.  I had been watching the forecast all week and it had promised a beautiful day, but I was worried.   At Multnomah I was a bit afraid the girls would freeze to death, when it was discovered that both of them had come away without jackets.  (Oregon rule #1: always bring a jacket.)

After we left Multnomah the sky began to clear.


It was a very interesting combination of weather patterns in just a small area—sun, haze, clouds, we had it all. 


Fortunately for the jacketless girls it warmed up a few degrees by the time we got to our destination, Horsetail Falls.

The main waterfall is right beside the road,


but my plan was never to stop there. 


Instead we started hiking to see how many more waterfalls we could see in the time we had available.



By this point in the journey my previous cranky companions had disappeared and three delightful children had appeared in their places—running ahead, singing songs together, telling riddles, they had a great time.




The second waterfall, Ponytail Falls, was unsual.  Over time the water has eaten away at the earth behind the falls and now you can hike through a small cavern behind the waterfall.


If you’ve ever wondered what the world looks like from behind a waterfall, here you go.



Very lovely, actually.


We could see signs of fall all around us.


Every now and then (but not very often) there would be a break in the trees along the trail and we would see the most beautiful views.


Everything everywhere was covered in moss.


Our last stop before we ran out of time and had to turn back was in a gorge that was so narrow in some places you probably could have touched both walls.  We could see those places from where we were, but there was no way to get there from where we were.


There was a small waterfall above us,


with a sort of scary footbridge near it.


After we passed the footbridge I decided that we were out of time, so we turned around and headed back down.


On our way we decided to see if we could count the rings on a fallen tree.  We got to 60 before we gave up.


Our trip back home was uneventful.  Once again I enjoyed the views along the way.


Once again we were entertained by driving through the tunnel and seeing the houses & apartments just above.  We can’t help asking—do they hear all of the traffic?  Do they feel it at all?  Will we ever be so used to driving under houses that it’s boring to us??


Remember those cranky kids, the ones who hadn’t wanted to go?  Well those same kids can’t wait to go back.  They think we need to take Russ & Josh back with us because we had such an awesome time.  Well…the truth is, we probably won’t go back to that exact place, but that will be because there are so many other amazing places here we still haven’t seen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It’s Official!


We have a new lawn to mow.  Which is a good thing, because I found this awesome lawn mower the other day at Goodwill for 5 bucks!


(The realtor said, “This is a lot of lawn to mow with a hand mower.”  Russ & I looked at each other and thought “Lady, it’s clear that your definition of “a lot of lawn to mow” and ours are entirely different…”)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Dilemma

What’s a gal to do when she makes a piece of toast for breakfast and has to choose between homemade strawberry freezer jam and homemade blackberry freezer jam???


The best of both worlds!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Hate Politics


During the 2008 election cycle we were at the beach when a presidential debate was broadcast.  Someone turned on the tv to watch, but after just a few minutes I left the living room and went somewhere else.  So much animosity, so much ridicule, (subtle or not), so much posturing to make one’s own point—all of it made my stomach hurt.


I am so ready for this election to be over.  I almost don’t even care who wins at this point.  I’ve learned over the last 12 years that the president actually has a limited amount of power.  In this era of uber-partisianship he has even less power than ever before, especially if the members of the opposing party are determined to block him at any and every turn.


I pulled up a browser just now and this is the first headline that popped up.

Romney ridicules Obama on ‘change’ remark.

That’s all the news is, all day every day, as the candidates criss-cross the country bad-mouthing each other.


I’m sure that Mitt Romney is a good guy.  I’m actually certain of it—that he is a kind and compassionate man, and a loving husband, father, and leader.  But the politics of our country distort people, make them pander to the most extreme elements of our society, make otherwise nice and decent people spend their time saying as many bad things as they can about the other guy.

And the other guy?  I actually think Barak Obama is a good guy too.  He seems like a decent husband and father, especially considering the life he’s chosen.  Anyone who could put up with the insults and abuses that have been thrown at him for the last 4 (really 6) years is a much stronger person than I.  I may not appreciate all of his policies, but I appreciate his concern for the less fortunate, for those who weren’t born with all of the advantages that Russ & I were born with.  And I appreciate the huge benefits that his health care policy is bringing to my daughter’s life every day.


I have no idea why anyone—ANYONE—would EVER decide to run for president.  My personal philosophy is that someone who’s dumb enough to run is suspect enough right there that I shouldn’t vote for him, and that any person we really would want as president is too smart to run.  (Colin Powell, anyone?)  But regardless, I want it to be over.  I want people to stop talking trash about other people because of what they believe.  I want them to remember that in this country we are so blessed to have agency to choose what we believe and to choose how we vote, but that neither of those rights absolve us of the directive to love our fellow man. 

I know, I know.  I haven’t changed at all since those long ago days on the playground.  I just want people to play nice…

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today’s Adventure

No time to write about all of it now, but let’s just say that it included this guy.