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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.

Important parts of Oregon's history still waiting to be dug up

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.

State government’s playing it both ways

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.

Or Roy.

Waylaid again by those garden catalogs

Along about the middle of December they begin barging in, mocking the snow and upsetting the tranquility of our winter household.

Garden catalogs.

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.

No one asked, but I’ve got a suggestion for that stimulus package

The federal government is getting ready to write another 12-digit check, ostensibly to benefit the taxpayers. Which is to say you and me, who will of course subsidize this endeavor whether we brand it as brilliance or folly. If I were a shopkeeper I’m not sure I’d accept this as legal tender, though, even if the feds can produce two pieces of ID.

So far as I can tell the account lacks overdraft protection. It certainly hasn’t any taxpayer protection, and yet I’m certain the creditors, in a pinch, will be able to acquire our addresses as readily as the IRS can.

I suppose I ought to feel thankful that the people we elected have decided it’s time to return to us, in some fashion, a portion of the money they’ve taken. But I can’t muster much gratitude.

Molding a reader, one story after another

“In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of — the cow jumping over the moon...”

I’ll spare you the entire story of the classic “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown — but just know that I can recite it, word for word, from memory.

We received this book as a gift upon the birth of our daughter, Olivia. She didn’t really take an interest in it until she was about 14 months, and ever since we have read it before naptime and bedtime. (She’s now 19 months old and says “Moon! Moon!” when it’s time for bed).

It’s a wonderful book, and I haven’t yet felt the need to hide it or throw it away (by the number of books in our house, it’s apparent that we never throw books away).

That, however, is not the case with some other stories. One in particular is “Little Quack’s New Friend.”

A warm front plays a prank on predictors, professional and otherwise

Baker Valley battled the invaders with rare courage, stubbornly resisting even as its allies fell, one after another, before the mild onslaught.

But the juggernaut of slush was irresistible.

Surrounded and vanquished, its situation hopeless, the valley at last laid down its thermometers and surrendered to the meteorological inevitability.

Which is to say it warmed up around here Wednesday morning.


Warm fronts bluster into our mountain valley pretty regularly during winter, and predicting their snow-softening progress requires little in the way of scientific prowess.

This I appreciate, as my knowledge of science is, well, limited. (Which is akin to saying that Baker County is limited in its allotment of tide pools.)

Except sometimes the jet stream plays a prank.

The trick the atmosphere pulled off earlier this week was clever indeed, making fools not only of amateur prognosticators like me, but also the professionals from the National Weather Service.

Government protects pupils, but allows a chain-saw free for all

I used to think, as I suspect most people do, that a chain saw posed a greater threat to eyesight than a contact lens does.

Recent events have forced me to reconsider the comparative danger of the two items.

The thing is, it’s easier nowadays to procure a chain saw — or for that matter pretty much any powered implement with sharp metal pieces that spin really fast — than it is to replace the contact lens you washed down the drain.

Or snapped in half, as I did last Saturday.

I was cleaning the lens, too, which amplified my frustration.

Few things annoy me as completely as preventive maintenance that backfires.

It’s like changing the oil in your car and then blowing a piston because you forget to tighten the drain plug.

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