This hardy guy actually saw service as the “Christmas flower” until finally covered by the multiple snows we received the week before Christmas.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This hardy guy actually saw service as the “Christmas flower” until finally covered by the multiple snows we received the week before Christmas.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas Day circa 1956.
That was the year both my brother and I received gray-plastic robots, batteries not included. They actually walked, well sort of, the eyes flashed, and they made a grinding sound. Oh how I wish I still had that robot, it might fetch a bundle on eBay!
This year for Christmas, I presented my lovely wife with a LED headlamp. Now before you say that I am whacked, understand that the office in which she works has no windows so when the power goes off, it gets pretty dark. Our wedding anniversary is also a few days before Christmas and I always give her roses; so hopefully that shows that I have some understanding of the concept of gift giving.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Today’s shift hosting on the museum’s Lightship was foiled by near blizzard conditions. The museum’s staff wisely decided to keep the ship closed as the gangplank and deck are covered with snow and ice. Now certainly, snow is not unheard of in Astoria, in fact in my thirty-one years as a resident, my snow shovel has received plenty of use. How today differs is that it began snowing at about 8:30 AM and it still continues to fall nearly eight hours later. If the forecast is correct, it will continue until late this evening before turning to freezing rain. Oh, I can hardly wait!
At any rate, if you are from Delaware or have even lived there, why not plan a visit to the museum on Saturday the 27th between 12 and 2 PM and stop by the Lightship and say hello. Not only will you enjoy your tour, you will leave knowing that you completed my goal for 2008!
The dock with nearly four inches of fresh snow
Thursday, December 18, 2008
On Thursday evening, the lovely wife informs me that perhaps her Sunday afternoon would be better spent writing Christmas letters so perhaps I could get the tree on either Friday or Saturday. I do not think it was the call of the Christmas letters she heard but more likely she saw the weather forecast for Sunday which called for snow and temperatures in the mid-twenties!
So Friday morning after completing my work at the food bank, under threatening skies, I gathered my saw, boots, and rain gear and headed out to a local tree farm that I knew well. Over the years, I have cut many fine trees at this lot and as I had brokered the purchase of seedling for the former owners, I often received a professional discount on my tree. As the tree farm is located about twelve miles out of town I had lots of time to watch the sky grow darker with each passing moment. About half way there, I noticed the wind was rocking the trees on a distant hill and the rain was beginning to pelt the windshield of my truck. It was at this point I remembered how much I hated working outside on days like today but since the forecast called for worse weather, it was now or never!
I arrived at the tree farm and was greeted by the new owner; his first comment was something on the lines of how I should have been here yesterday when the weather was nice. He then goes on to explain how to choose a tree and finally what species were available and how to identify them. My first thought was to tell him that as forester with over thirty years experience I had a good idea what a good tree looks like and further, it was because of my efforts several years ago he now had a crop to harvest. My second thought and the one I went with was to stand there and keep my mouth shut and hope that he would soon have the good sense to get inside out of the rain. Just as he turned to leave, he added that all trees are only $6.50 per foot. If the weather had not been getting worse by the minute, I would left. As I hiked into the field, I began to calculate the cost of the perfect tree; since I was looking for one in the neighborhood of eight feet, I was going to be writing a check for fifty-two bucks. Now I realize that in some places, Christmas trees are extremely expensive, but Astoria is not one of those.
As I head over the hill, I begin to develop my strategy, find a short tree that’s fat or speaking more politically correct, full at the bottom. Since this tree farm does not culture their trees, they all have a more natural appearance; therefore they often lack that “full figure appearance”. After five minutes I spot the perfect tree but I want to get a picture before putting a saw to its base. I reach into my coat pocket only to realize that the camera is back in truck safe and dry, so it’s back up the hill to fetch it. As I get to the parking lot, the owner is shocked to see me and comments that surely I am not giving up so quickly. I inform him that I have located a candidate but mention nothing about the camera; I do not want him to think that I am a total lunatic.
So with camera safely secured in my coat pocket, I head back down the hill to complete this mission. If you have ever gone to the woods you know where I am going with this story. As I continue down the hill, I can not find my perfect tree or the saw that I had carelessly laid beside it. As the rain continues to pelt, I wander aimlessly between the rows of trees in search of something that looks familiar. Oh yea, at this point I’m having loads of fun. It also hit me why I retired; I wanted to be inside of such miserable days.
2008's perfect tree or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it
The saw and tree were finally located, cut and the financial obligation settled at the cash register. Over the course of the next year, I will also be searching for a new Christmas tree farm.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
As you might expect, the demand for supplemental food has never been greater. If you are wondering what you could do to help out, consider making a cash donation to you local food pantry. On the other had, if you prefer to give food, peanut butter, tuna fish, or canned fruits are always in demand. It’s never a bad idea to just pick up the phone and call your food pantry and see if they have other specific needs.
This is also a time to give from the heart, so as much as you want to rid your kitchen cupboards of that old jar of sauerkraut, please think again. Now before you say hey, is a Ruben sandwich is complete without sauerkraut? Consider the likelihood of someone who depends upon supplemental food and their ability to obtain corned beef and Swiss cheese. To the other defenders of a sauerkraut donation, yes I am aware that it was consumed by sailors in the 1800s because it is rich in vitamin C and thus prevented scurvy. However, during a recent visit to my doctor, I asked him how often he treats patients with scurvy; to which he responded, never!
Yes, I agree that at times the needs of the many are overwhelming and we can never meet all of them but to just help a few is far better than nothing!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Yesterday was one of those miserable days on the coast; it drizzled pretty much the entire day. In addition to the extremely low light levels, you got soaked if you ventured outside. How is it possible for such tinny drops of water to get you so wet?
I spent most my day building new a set stairs into the basement; so every time I need to cut a piece of wood, I ventured outside into the drizzle and got soaked. To my amazement, the project was completed in less than one day and only required two trips to the lumber yard. Without a doubt, I set a new personal best for a home repair projects.
Today’s task will be to untangle the ball of wires also known as the Christmas lights. I need to find the bad bulb which has caused half of the string to go dark. Sounds like another fun project right! It’s very likely that by noon I will have retired to the “big box warehouse” and purchased a replacement set.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
About 15 years ago during a visit to Plymouth, MA, I had the good fortune to tour the Mayflower II. Obviously, the Mayflower II is a reproduction but if memory serves me, the ship builders made every effort to build a faithful reproduction. I still have vivid memories about how little space there was below deck; it was nearly impossible to stand upright and not knock your head on a beam. I can scarcely imagine how fowl the air must have become in the passenger holds when crowded with 102 Pilgrims.
Finally on November 9, 1620 “land ahoy” was called and the road trip from hell was nearly over. The Mayflower’s intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River in New York State but the unrelenting storms had driven the ship far north. With winter upon them, the decision was made to find a suitable location to build winter quarters, finally on December 11th, the Pilgrims disembarked in what is now Plymouth, MA.
William Bradford, who was later chosen by the Pilgrims to be their first governor described their arrival as follows: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. They had now no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses or much less towns to repair to …..” Still, they all gave thanks!
As Thanksgiving approaches, if you have a roof over your head and your biggest worry is whether you turkey is organic or if it lived its life as a free range bird, then you have sufficient for which to give thanks. The older I get, the more I realize that life is more or less a matter of perspective, so lets all give thanks for what we have, regardless of how little it might be!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Our first trip to Washington was in March of 1987 so needless to say, things have changed a bit since our last visit. In particular, security police were present at every location we visited along with endless metal detectors and bag inspections before entering any federal building. In some respects, it was as if we never left the airport and the TSA.
If you have never been to Washington, you are missing an experience which I believe has few equals. The opportunities to sight see are endless and every museum of the Smithsonian houses a national treasure that you should see before departing this earth.
Before you jump in the car and head to the "Big City", I offer the following recommendations for your considerations:
- Purchase a comfortable pair of walking shoes because you will need them. During our trip, we averaged five miles of walking per day.
- Get a guide book and read it before you go along with a map of the city.
- Develop a list of sights you want to visit and then establish priorities. Trust me, you will never see everything.
- The Smithsonian is not one museum, it's actually a complex of 16+ museums scattered across the city.
- Finally, forget about driving in the city because parking is extremely scarce. Ride the Metro subway or the bus.
I have included a few photos from our recent trip to hopefully peak your interest. As you might guess, most of the monuments and buildings are huge so it's difficult to get a picture without some of the endless distractions cause by construction, security fences, or traffic.
The reflection wall inside of the Korean War memorial serves a reminder to all of us.
These soldiers are part of the Korean War Memorial
The World War II memorial looking east to the Atlantic Gate
Friday, October 31, 2008
Like many, I have pass through the Gorge numerous times traveling to and from Eastern Oregon for work, but I have never taken the time to explore the area and enjoy its beauty. The area was once home to large numbers of Native Americans who fished the mighty Columbia River for salmon. The waters surrounding Cascade Rapids and Cleo Falls near The Dalles were favorite places for the Native Americans to gather.
As you travel east from the Bridge of the Gods, the annual precipitation decreases rapidly and so do the trees and associated vegetation.
This picture was taken near the Gorge's east end and looking north towards The Dalles, OR. The annual precipitation drops to about 14 inches, thus tree growth is severely limited.
While you are visiting Stonehenge, be sure to see the Maryhill Museum which was also built by Sam Hill. On display is one the best collections of Native American artifacts I have seen to date.
Monday, October 27, 2008
- Where is the drug store? If you are from the United Kingdom you might call it a chemist.
- Where is the "old fashion" JC Penneys I have heard about?
- Where can I get a cup of coffee?
- Where can I get Internet access?
- Where is the shopping mall?
- Do you have a good brew pub near by?
- How do you get to the Goonie's House?
- Where can I get an international calling card?
- Is there some where I can purchase electronics?
If you have never heard of the Goonie's House, you apparently are over the age of say thirty. At any rate, the movie titled The Goonies was filmed in Astoria in the mid-1980s and a local house served as a major set location. The movie has a sort of cult following that honestly I fail to understand, but then I could never be accused of being Hollywood's biggest fan either.I have to admit that getting to meet so many fun people who traveled long distances to visit Astoria will likely be the high point for me when I close the cover on the book of 2008. I will also be anxiously awaiting cruise season 2009 which begins on April 3oth.
Now to the two of you who may be reading this post, perhaps you are wondering about the picture I have included. Could it perhaps be a crucial part of a ship or is it a symbol for the strength of the cruise host volunteers? Sorry to say, it's neither. I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch last week and noticed some very old industrial equipment near by, so this is how I spent twenty minutes.
Monday, October 20, 2008
To me, the Age of X tour is my favorite because of the student’s participation and enthusiasm. Frequently, their hands are raised and waving just in anticipation of your question. Kids of this age group also answer your questions directly and openly; suffice to say they never pull any punches! It certainly keeps a docent on his toes at all times!
As I prepare for the first Age of X tour for the new school year on Thursday, I am reminded of an incident that occurred this past spring. While sharing the story of the grounding of the sailing ship Peter Iredale in 1906, the docent asked the kids to decide if it was caused by mechanical failure, weather, or human error. Without missing a beat, one little voice from the group loudly announced that the cause had to be because of a “lousy captain”. While attempting to suppress my laughter, the docent calmly explained that it would be more appropriate to refer to this as human error. Kids, you have to love them!!
Just in case you are wondering, the British government ruled during the court of inquiry that the grounding was not the result of human error. Score one for the captain and crew.
The bow of the Peter Iredale looking south
The bow and a portion of the mast seen while looking north
If you have never seen a ship up close, come to Fort Stevens State Park and explore the wreck of the Peter Iredale. You can even do it at low tide and not get your feet too wet!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Looking south from the dunes
Sunrise over the fresh water pond inside of Beards Hollow
Friday, October 10, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
While attending college, I persevered through the traditional entry level economic class taught to many second year students. As a forestry major, I was also subjected to an additional semester of economics which focused on how market factors affected the practice of forestry. My overall perception of economics was further shaped by my favorite professor, the late Dick Dingle who once referred to economics as the “dark science”!
So how do I really feel the Wall Street bail out? I have read numerous articles and editorials for and against the plan and I am left to conclude that I feel strongly both ways! The whole issue reminds me of a story often told in the back country of New Hampshire. It seems that one day a lost tourist stopped and asked a farmer if he knew where Manchester was. The old farmer responded, “Ah yep, but you can’t get there from here.” Maybe such logic could be useful in the current bailout debate.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A relatively new luxury hotel which sits on the spot of a long forgotten fish cannery.
Jack's boat stands as a reminder of a time, not too long ago, when men fished the Columbia River in small wooden boats for the once abundant salmon. The Astoria-Megler Bridge looms in the background.
A ride takes you beneath the towering Astoria-Megler Bridge and it's massive support structures.
The Columbia River is definitely a highway to the world and large vessels from many nations pass by Astoria on their journey to upriver ports.
The trail passes by the Fisherman's Memorial Park; it's a great place to sit and watch activity on the river
The trolley may not move quickly but it's big and would likely cause you significant damage if you tangled with it.
When you hit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, you are about a quarter of the way through your round trip ride. The museum is the home of the Light Ship Columbia.
How many places in the United States can you go for a ride and see a real stern wheeler!
Pictured here is Pier 39, originally a cannery and for many years the home to Bumble Bee's cold storage facility. On any given day, there was literally tons of frozen tuna fish awaiting processing at the Elmore Cannery.
There might be a debate as to where the trail begins but the end is abrupt and obvious without being marked by a sign.
The city has plans to extend the trail east which could potentially add an additional two miles to the trip, but given the current financial situation, I won't be looking for the ribbon cutting any time soon.
If you are ever plan to be in town, bring your bike and I will show you the sights.