Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Weather

Where’s Your Paradise?

I’m thinking the key to life is loving where you are. Where I am, or soon will be, is in the kitchen getting a fistful of chocolate cherry trail mix. Be right back.

It’s gone! I searched everywhere – in the cabinets, on the nightstand, in the bonus room, but it’s disappeared. Doggone it! Thank goodness I found a Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate bar the size of a greeting card that hit the spot. No, I didn’t eat it all, I left a couple of squares to the previous owner so they’d know they hadn’t imagined putting it in the cupboard. After all, I’m a considerate person.

Back to paradise. We were visiting friends over in Central Oregon and the sun was shining the whole time with nary a cloud in the sky. It’s hard to complain about warm sunshine after living in Portland during the incredibly cool summer we’re having (to find out why – SHAMELESS PLUG – get the global warming book I helped write called, Footprint, a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Extinction).

One morning we came out of the dark bedroom to be greeted by glowing sunlight through every window, and our host said, “Another day in paradise!”

Didn’t Jimmy Buffet sing a song about that? Somebody did. Anyway, I got to thinking about it and I concluded **** PROFOUND SAYING ALERT***** that:

PARADISE IS WHERE THE HEART IS

This might sound a whole lot like another saying, “Home is where the heart is,” but that one isn’t centered on the page and in all capital letters. I wonder if I can copyright this saying and get royalties when the world starts using it? Because, you know, paradise is sometimes where the money is, too.

Clear skies and warm sunshine might certainly be part of the formula for paradise, but I’ve had a taste of paradise when I’ve been on the side of Mt. Bachelor in the freezing cold and hit a bump on my skies that should have sent me flailing end over end but I miraculously recovered and flew weightless through the air without breaking a leg. It’s exhilarating.

Something else to ponder: Isn’t the world confusing enough without spelling skies and skies the same way? 

I’ve also been in paradise when my teenage daughter asks me to go to a movie with her. OMG I will drop anything to spend time with either of my kids because they are scattered like my Uncle Vance’s ashes in the trunk of my cousin Nancy’s car. That’s a funny story I’ll try to remember to tell one day.

My kids rarely light near me any longer than it takes them to say, “Mom, you already asked me that.” I’m not so sure I DID ask, and I certainly don’t remember what they said. They make stuff up to drive me crazy. Even so, I love when they’ll forsake their friends and hang out with me, even when I know it’s because none of their friends can do anything right that minute and also I’ll pay for their movie ticket. Still, to me it’s more of a “paradise” to hang out with them than being in the tropics sipping POG and vodka while swinging in a hammock on the beach. I think.

The point is that paradise is in our heads. If it weren’t, then everyone in warm places would be happy, and everyone else would be miserable. That may pan out in some cases, but I have witnessed many, many cranky shop clerks in those little beach stores in Lahaina. In fact, there are few things crankier than a middle-aged Hawaiian woman in a t-shirt shop packed with tourists unfolding the merchandise during the heat of the Maui summer. I’ve heard them mumble, “I got your paradise RIGHT HERE!” and though I’m not sure what that means, they didn’t sound happy.

So, gentle readers, you probably don’t need to look any further than your own back yard for your little patch of paradise. And if you find some money out there, send me some!

Rain, Rain Go Away – and Take the Slugs with You

It has been raining in the Northwest non-stop since October. We realize that it rains a lot here. We take pride in the rain. The University of Oregon athletic teams are called the “Ducks” because everybody around here has “web feet.” Pretty clever.

Every year at this time people in the Northwest start getting really, really sick of the rain. But this year, we got sick about a month and a half ago. It’s too much of a good thing. Even the slugs are sick of it.

If you don’t know what a slug is, it’s a snail without the shell. They are everywhere here because – take a wild guess – they like moisture. When I go out my front door to get the mail, I’ll pass a minimum of 5,000 slugs on the way to the mailbox and back. You have to dodge them because you DO NOT want to step on them because they’ll stick to your foot and leave a permanent slime trail that soap and water, harsh chemicals, or even sandpaper can’t get off. You have to shed that layer of skin before the slime goes away.

How do I know that even the slugs are sick of the rain? Because I have found two slugs in my house. TWO!!!     IN MY HOUSE!!!!

These guys are desperate to get refuge. It’s like some mass migration to find a dry spot somewhere…ANYWHERE. I found one on the carpet in the dining room – hundreds of miles (in slug miles) from any entrance. I think he got there by jumping on a passing shoe as it walked by, hoping to get out of a puddle.

I had seen the other one when I went out to get the newspaper earlier in the day. It was on the sidewalk, coming right straight for the front door, traveling at the rate of approximately 2 inches per hour. I stepped around it, but wondered what it would do when it got to the door. There is a small crack under the door, but surely not big enough for a slug to slide through.

A few hours later I found that same slug IN MY ENTRYWAY. I knew it was the same one because they all have different coloration and markings – just like different breeds of dogs. You’ve probably heard of the “banana” slug – the big granddaddy of them all that can grow to be 3 feet long in the Northwest and has been blamed for the disappearance of small dogs or cats. Then there are the finger-length slugs that are about as long as your arm and have brown spots on a tan body.

The slug in my entryway was grayish tan with spots AND stripes, which is an unusual combination. That’s how I knew he was the same one I’d seen earlier heading for my door. He had two little eyes sticking up, checking everything out and wondering where I kept my goldfish. Luckily, I found him before he could wreak much havoc and I scooped him up into a napkin and marched his little slug bottom right back outside and dropped him into the grass. Actually I tried to drop him but he was clinging to that napkin like he’d been super-glued to it. He wanted to stay in the warm, dry house. I shook and shook but he just stared at me with these big, pleading tentacles. At one point I think I saw a tear. Finally I just put the napkin on the ground. The rain pounded it into the earth and the slug slithered off, shaking his fist at me. He was headed straight toward the door again.

If I wake up in the night and that thing has crawled in bed with me and is about to chomp down on my throat, I’m going to be really, really mad.

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I decided not to do laundry, run the vacuum, or wash dishes to save electricity. It was a sacrifice, but I figure if we all don’t do our part, we’re going to live in an ugly grey world pretty soon, and not because all the baby boomers are getting older.

I helped write a book about global warming (www.thebookfootprint.com). What I learned is that this is scary stuff. I would just as soon not know that humans are turning Mother Nature into a real bitch. She’s going to be hot and humorless and cut us all off out of spite. You know what they say about a woman scorned. It’s worse with a woman scorched.

Global warming isn’t such a hard principle to understand. If you’ve ever had a baby, my analogy is nothing like childbirth, although I have some good stories I’ll share one of these days. I’ve found that men especially love hearing about labor and delivery. No, I’m going to give you an analogy that will help you understand what climate change is all about.

New mothers worry that their babies will catch a cold, so they bundle them up from head to toe with little stretchy caps and booties and those one-piece things that don’t let a whisper of air in. Then they put them in a stroller padded with hot foam rubber. THEN they put a blanket over them.

I know this because it’s what I did with my son – my firstborn. He had awful colic and if I wanted even one second of peace from the screeching I’d have to walk him in the stroller. He’d either fall asleep or be entertained by the motion. Come rain, sleet, hell, or shine I’d walk him. If it was nippy, he got bundled up.

Once I remember bringing him in the house while he was asleep, and I was relishing the lack of screaming for a few minutes before he woke up. I can’t tell you how that child would bellow. Soon he woke up, and I took his hat off to discover that his head was soaking wet. Little rivers of water were running down, and his face was beet red. With all those layers of clothes, his body was reacting to the heat by trying to flood his head with cool water and turning his face red to let his stupid mother know she was roasting him.

That’s what global warming is like. CO2 wraps the earth in a layer of too many clothes and blankets. Mother Nature gets hot in there, and she starts to sweat. She’s sweating record hurricanes in New Orleans. This throws everything off kilter. Places that are usually hot get cold (record snows in Washington DC), and places that are wet get dry (Oregon has had more sunny weather this winter than I can ever remember). This is how Mother Nature is showing us that something’s wrong. If she had a face, it would be beet red like the baby’s, but since she doesn’t, she has to throw these weird weather events at us right and left. You can’t go a day without hearing someone say, “This is really crazy weather we’re having.” It’s Mother Nature trying to slap some sense into us.

As kids, most of us listened to our mothers because they protected us and fed us and we trusted them to do what was best for us. As we grew older, we started tuning our moms out. They nagged about the same old things and were so totally not with it. Then when we got even older, we started seeing that our moms had it pretty together and we should have listened to her.

Well, Mother Nature is talking to us big time, and we need to listen now. She’s saying, “Get out and walk instead of driving, turn off the boob tube, hang some laundry out and turn the heat down.”

There’s one thing I’ve learned. If you don’t make your mother happy, she will rain down a holy terror on you. We have to unite together as brothers and sisters to keep that from happening – and the sooner the better.

Today’s a good day to start.

Rain Induced ADD

I take it back about the rain. It’s been pouring all day. On my patio, earthworms are holding up white flags. I’ve never seen such rain! It’s thumping and thumping and thumping on the roof like a bill collector pounding at my door.

Speaking of bill collectors, I got my 2010 Census envelope in the mail, and already they’ve sent a notice saying it’s late. I think the notice came before the census. I am not looking forward to filling that out. It’s not like I have anything to hide, it just seems like I did one just recently. Can’t they have a form that says, “Check here if nothing’s changed in 10 years.” Sure we’ve all aged, but that shouldn’t be too hard for them to figure out. Other than that, everything’s stayed pretty much the same. Filling out the census is just one more thing I don’t really want to do.

That list is getting longer. As I get older, it seems like the list of things I do want to do gets smaller. I’ve narrowed down my wants to a few essential things. I want tasty food, less commercials, and a lot more sleep than I’m getting.

They say we don’t get enough sleep in this country. How can we?  The phone rings at all hours. Kids are sick. The dog is sick. Computers and late night TV vie to keep us up. And this freaking rain. It’s like a jackhammer out there.

Now there’s a job. Can you imagine the physical strength it must take to hold a giant vibrator all day long? I bet those guys start out weighing 300 pounds and have to be replaced every few months when their weight drops to 150.

Once I rented a floor buffer. I’d never used one, and I turned it on and it swung me around the room like I was on Dances with the Stars. That’s one powerful machine. I never did have my way with it – I just hung on and hoped it would eventually cover the entire floor at least once. My arms were sore for days.

I’ve been listening to comics on the satellite radio that came as a trial version on my car. Those guys are so funny, but when I tried to analyze what they were doing, all I could observe is that they just surprise you all the time. They say something like, “I got a dog on my birthday. I married her on New Year’s Day.” They take you where you don’t expect to go, and it’s amusing. I can’t wait to get in my car now.

One was talking about Hot Pockets – you know, those frozen fast-food microwavable delicacies for teens and singles? He wondered why they weren’t on menus in restaurants. “I’ll have the chicken cordon bleu with a hot pocket on the side.” It made me think of food names when I heard him. Some names like Wheat Thins tell you pretty much what you’re getting. Others, not so much. If you’d never seen these products, what would you think they were? Skittles? Nestles Quik? Cheetos? They could be anything. Cheetos could be cheetah toes. Skittles could be little skillet things. And Quik could be microwavable fast food.

Oh that rain outside! Who can think? On a night such as this, a person would do well to simply head to bed and hope sleep steals in during a lull in the deluge. Please forgive me for saying “Hooray” for rain.

Weather to Beware

I was at a four-hour swim meet tonight to watch a total of thirty seconds of my daughter swimming. It was her first meet and she did very well. We gave one of her teammates a ride home, and of course the two of them were texting to see what happened while they couldn’t be in contact with the outside world. They found out that both the girls’ and boys’ basketball games had been cancelled because of the weather.

The weather was, and continues to be, fine. But not according to the weather forecasters in Portland who have been working themselves into a lather all day about freezing rain that might arrive sometime before the end of the century. According to NOAA, there is a 10% chance in the late evening of this actually occurring. Not a lot of odds that it would happen, but they don’t care. Even a smidgen of indication that bad weather could happen is enough to give them “Breaking News.”

I believe forecasters embellish bad weather reports to make their ratings go up.  If they can get everyone worried about snow on the way or gale force winds, people will stay home and tune in to see when the weather is going to get to their houses and begin wreaking havoc on their lives. Call me old-fashioned, but I can do the same thing by glancing out my kitchen window.

I’m not talking about hurricanes and tornados, which can cause serious damage and are somewhat more predictable because of weather patterns in certain places. I’m talking about snow and freezing rain that can, I suppose, be pretty devastating if you are talking about someone having to pay a tow truck to fish him out of a ditch. That’s expensive. What I’m talking about is the warnings that go on all day long about weather that doesn’t get here, if it arrives at all, until much later, causing needless fear and disruptions. School was cancelled one day last year the night before based on cries of a snowstorm on it’s way. The next day we awoke to dry concrete and a house full of teenagers lolly gagging around making messes and wanting to be driven everywhere.

I know the weather isn’t an exact science, but nobody else seems to grasp this fact. They take forecasts as gospel even though the percentage of correct predictions is about -10.

I had to stop by Wal-Mart and the crowds were outrageous – everyone stocking up on canned goods and flashlights and potato chips to weather out the two-day storm.  I was out of gas and waited in a long line at the gas station because people were apparently stocking up on gas, too.  Why, I don’t know, because you cannot drive in freezing rain. It’s like running on a frozen pond coated in slime. You just spin your wheels. The officials tell you not to drive unless it’s absolutely necessary, so why stock up on petroleum products?

Just now I glanced outside. No freezing rain. It may get here – but it better hurry up because it’s almost midnight. I must skitter to finish this blog because I’m sure the power is going to go out any second with all that freezing rain weighing down the power lines. Oh, wait, I forgot, it hasn’t come yet. But I just got an email that my writer’s group is cancelled tomorrow morning because the freezing rain will surely be here by then. Would anyone care to make a wager?

Weather, to Laugh or Cry About It

My husband and I went to two different architect parties tonight for clients. They were festive occasions (unlimited wine and beer always helps), but much talk centered around the economy and how many people different companies had to lay off, and all the companies who weren’t having a party this year.

There are two things I’m getting really distressed about. One is how messed up everything seems these days, what with global warming, the recession, and Tiger Woods. The other is the weather here in Oregon.

We have a reputation to uphold in the rainy northwest. We have consistent rain from October 30th until June 30th. There are a few scattered sun breaks here and there, but you can pretty much be guaranteed that if we have out of state guests during this period, we can present them with plenty of rain and they’ll be able to go home with a plethora of jokes about the all the rain in Oregon.

But not this year. Because of global warming, or the recession, or maybe even Tiger Woods, we have had a run of cold, sunny days that has us web-foots ringing our hands wondering what the heck is going on. It has been colder than a well digger’s ass in the Klondike, as my dear dad loved to say. He also loved to say that I was contrary as cat sh__ under a couch. And it was hotter than a half frigged fox in a forest fire. These are tacky sayings, but they illustrate my point, which I plan to get back to as soon as I look outside to see if there are any clouds on the horizon.

Nope. It is right now this instant at 10:18 pm on a Thursday night in December in Portland, Oregon a mere 17º and it’s supposed to drop two more degrees before morning.

We are all freezing. You can’t fight the cold with an umbrella. Not that anyone in Portland ever uses an umbrella. That’s for tourists. Locals are tough. We buy hooded raincoats and run from awning to awning to stay dry. Our skin is moist. We own leather tennis shoes (not mesh) for the winter so our feet won’t get wet when we walk the dog. Our dogs don’t wear raincoats, but that’s got nothing to do with it.

I was walking my dog today in the woods near my house and the creeks are starting to freeze. Usually I can’t go on those trails in the winter because I’d sink to my knees in mud. The ground is frozen solid and it’s like walking on granola. Rhododendrons, as common around here as telephone poles, have leaves that are so shriveled up they look like a bush full of green pencils.

If we lived in Alaska, this would be normal, but it’s driving everyone crazy around here. The funny thing is that at the same time people are complaining about the cold and posting “Brrrrrr” on their Facebook pages, when they start talking about how wretched the weather is, they always end their griping with, “But at least it’s not raining.”

That’s the catch-all phrase for all weather in Oregon that isn’t great but could be worse. And yet when we’ve gone long enough without rain, like in August when everything starts getting parched, people get distressed. Complaining about the weather is a favorite pastime of Oregonians, ranking right up there with complaining about Californians in general and the way Washingtonians drive in particular.

I just consulted the NOAA weather report for the next few days, and guess what we get to look forward to? Freezing rain. That is the ultimate worse case scenario. Oh boy, will I ever be able to bitch about that! We’ll have great conversations at Christmas parties this weekend. Can’t wait!

Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen