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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oregon is putting a lot of effort this year into touting its past,
which seems to me logical since we’re hardly overwhelmed with events to
celebrate here in the present.
And if you believe what you hear we’re not likely to be burdened with such in the near future.
The real reason for the revelry, of course, is that Oregon turns 150 this year — on Valentine’s Day, to be specific.
Oregon’s government, I’d wager, has more in common with Las Vegas than most Oregonians realize.
Salem lacks a neon-studded Strip, of course.
And so far as I know Wayne Newton hasn’t played the State Fair since, well, forever.
But if you get on the e-mail list for various state agencies, as I
have, you come to understand pretty quickly that working for certain of
those agencies, and running a casino, are not such dissimilar careers
as you probably supposed.
Although state workers aren’t likely to see Siegfried standing by the water cooler.
Along about the middle of December they begin barging in, mocking the
snow and upsetting the tranquility of our winter household.
These thin pamphlets, crammed with glossy color photos of plants that
are almost obscenely healthy, can distract me for as long as an hour
from more worthwhile pursuits, such as napping or watching football.
After even a brief bit of browsing I can become overwhelmed by the
compulsion to go dig a hole and plant a hybrid poplar, or perhaps a
paper birch. That such a task is impractical — even if I scraped away
the snow the frozen ground would be no more receptive to a shovel blade
than asphalt — seems not to matter.
The photographs alone, showing trees in full leaf against backdrops of
blue sky, affect me much as a balmy afternoon in March does. I can feel
the warmth of sunshine bathing my neck, the soft grit of fecund soil
clinging to my fingers.
But the writing is powerful, too, in spite of its flowery tone and over-reliance on adjectives and exclamation points.
My natural skepticism, which is usually quite keen when it comes to
detecting, and dismissing, outlandish claims that come by mail,
dissolves when I read about the clever tricks the horticulturists have
been up to with their gene-splicing and grafting.