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It turns out ticks have their place, including the washing machine

My wife Lisa is friendly, caring and nurturing.

Except with ticks.

Suffice it to say that if Lisa saw a tick drowning (I’m presuming here, as my knowledge of ticks is scant, that ticks can be drowned) she wouldn’t throw it a life preserver.

Well, now that I think about it she might throw a life preserver.


Lots of people are ticked off about taxes, but why waste a bunch of tea?


When I think about the income taxes I pay — and I do so as infrequently as I can manage — I feel a peculiar mixture of patriotism and regret.

On the one hand I know I’m contributing, albeit in a meager way, to the most generous country on earth. I know the modest fruits of my labor help to heal and feed kids who are sick and starving in some wretched place.

On the other hand I’m also paying for manure odor studies and Barney Frank’s salary.

Ponder that for a few seconds and see if you can still smile.

Still and all, my disdain for certain of the federal government’s spending habits is not so great that I think it’s appropriate to compare Barack Obama to King George III.


We have what we need for great schools

The closing of a school is, with rare exceptions, a sad occasion.

This is due, it seems to me, to the unique nature of schools.

No building seems as empty as a shuttered school, for the simple reason that no building seems so full as one occupied by children who are learning to add fractions and to subtract superfluous adverbs from their sentences.

Playgrounds look particularly forlorn when deprived of kids. The sight of a ball field with basepaths overrun by dandelions rather than sneakers is a dismal one indeed.


Snowpack might not set records, but you can still get stuck

This winter has gotten a reputation, around here anyway, as something of a skinflint. This allegation, whatever its meteorological merits, sounds like the cruelest sort of lie when you’re stuck up to your armpits in a drift.

Nor does it add to the tale’s plausibility that your forearms have to endure their frigid submersion with nothing but skin for protection.

And skin gives up a lot, insulation-wise, to wool.


Pine returns to the mill, but its purpose is more humble

Strange to see ponderosa logs decked again at the Ellingson mill site.

Strange in a good way.

These trees, it’s true, aren’t destined for quite so noble a purpose as were the pines they used to stack on the property. Some of those logs were as thick through the middle as a bridge abutment.

The comparatively slender trees that trucks deliver to the mill these days, rather than becoming permanent parts of someone’s home will temporarily warm a room on a bitter day.


With the First Amendment, America’s already pretty fair

Politicians in Washington, D.C., have been saying some scary things of late.

They often do this, of course.

Yet recent rhetoric seems to me especially troubling because one of the words in fashion is “fairness.”

Besides, say, “taxes,” I can’t think of any word I would less like to hear from the larynxes of lawmakers.


Rooting for America rather than against its politicians

I hope the stimulus plan President Obama signed into law this week revives the American economy from its current bout of narcolepsy. And if it does, I won’t be bothered a whit when President Obama and the Democrats in Congress lay claim to the credit.

I understand this position brands me as unreliable, and possibly even a a traitor, in certain political circles.

Some conservative commentators — radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is the most prominent of them — are rooting for Obama to fail.


Impersonating Elvis, wearing panty hose, and other joys of live theater

It’s every amateur actor’s nightmare.

You come on stage during opening night when you’re not scheduled to, spouting lines you’re not supposed to say until later in Act II.

And you’re not even wearing that sassy black dress that the nice wardrobe chief let out so it’ll fit your less-than-feminine physique.

That was the gist of my big gaffe last Friday, when Eastern Oregon Regional Theater’s “Any Body Home?” opened its two-weekend run at the Extension Building in Baker City.


Celebrating Oregon the best way I know — smelling the pine

We drove down the middle fork of the John Day on Sunday, searching for a snow-free hike and the early buttercup.

We found mud, mainly.

And although there were no buttercups in evidence we did see a few sprigs of that other yellow bellwether, desert parsley, its bright new blossoms about the size of a nickel.

We left the parsley.


Democrats’ plan not healthy for Oregon

Many Americans start the New Year with renewed efforts to count calories and leave behind the excesses of the holiday season. 

But Governor Kulongoski and Democrat leaders seem to think now is the time to add inches to government’s waist line. In the spirit of the holidays, Democrats are convinced that government spending financed by a borrowing binge is the key to economic recovery.

They are wrong.

The prescription for Oregon’s ailing economy is not a spending spree, but an aggressive plan to trim the fat — to shed excessive government spending and commit to a leaner, healthier, sustainable lifestyle where jobs and family businesses can thrive.


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