Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Miss This

While visiting in Oregon, I tried to just soak up the surrounding beauty. Living in Michigan, I've come to appreciate the natural beauty here as well, but it just has nothing on Oregon.

Oregon (and Washington as well, where some of these photos were taken) is downright spectacular. Even in the middle of winter! That's what really astounds me. Here, everything turns completely brown and gray and stays that way for 5 months. Oregon only changes it's shade of green for the winter. I mentioned this to my Mom, and she hadn't noticed. She thought it was all dull and brown. Goes to show how fabulous the rest of the year is around there.

Granted, it rains almost non-stop for 6 straight months out there... but it's because of the rain that the grass stays green, ferns live on, and everything is covered in moss and lichen.

While I was out there, I recalled that my despisal of winter is a fairly recent development. I didn't hate the winter when I lived in Oregon. It was annoying, maybe, but completely tolerable. We treated the week or two of bitter cold each winter as a little adventure and something to complain about with our neighbors. Oh, how "hardy" we were, chipping ice on the water troughs and needing to put on a warm hat to go outside. And the for the rest of the winter we just whined about the rain and we rejoiced when the bulbs started showing green in February.

Spending a winter commuting daily to downtown Chicago on trains taught me what winter is really about. Michigan winters (and this is only southern Michigan! Don't even talk to me about the Upper Peninsula...) holed up in a drafty, old farmhouse taught me even more.

We get sunshine, sure.
Dazzling on the fresh snow, but deceptively cold.
Blue skies after the hard wind blows the storms over.

But is there a version of Seasonal Affective Disorder which is brought on by lack of the color green? 'Cause that might be my main affliction, right along with intolerance to cold. Oh, and being stuck in the house all the time. I can hardly even make myself go out and take a walk.

And when I gripe to other Midwesterners about my loathing of winter, I usually get laughed at. This is the time when you wear sweaters (and then some) and drink lots of hot tea, I'm told. Sure-- that's all fine for the first month, or two... but what about the other three? By March, I'm pretty much a basket case. What's my problem?

Well, I was spoiled, that's what. Spoiled by the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bringing Some Outside IN

I have the Winter Crazies.


This affliction is different fr0m Spring Fever or Cabin Fever in that it involves considerable moronic babbling, screaming and general insanity.

I always get this. The only thing that seems to help alleviate it at all (besides the onset of spring, which is the cure) is nesting. I just get this overwhelming urge to redecorate. Change things. Organize things. Update things. And now that I'm through that first-trimester, crushing fatigue and stomach-rebellion, I can actually do this stuff.

I have a number of such projects planned-- some small touches and some major updates.

The first small touch was to bring in some of those beautiful red sticks that are in the fields around here. I went out into the 10 degree sunshine and cut a big bundle of them.

I brought them in (Nathan laughed and shook his head at me) and trimmed them up a little, and then I was faced with the problem of finding a container. I really wished I had a great big crock to stand them in.

But I didn't, so I found a jar.

I'm afraid it looks a little diminutive with the height of the branches, but oh well. I gots what I gots.

(Oh, and do me a favor and try to ignore the disgusting-looking living room floor. It's the result of years of ongoing construction work. I can't wait to do something about it, but it's gonna be a while. And those holes? Used to have pipes going through them back in the days of my temporary kitchen.)

I then had to play with my new camera (man, I'm in just love with that thing!) by taking a few photos of my decoration.

If you can count 30 as "a few"...

The color of those sticks is just irresistible.

Especially against my wall color.

And then there's the bokeh. Branch bokeh. Yes, please.

Hey, look! Holey, Scuzzy Floor Bokeh!

I had thought about trimming them up so that they were just straight twigs, but I decided that I like the branchyness at the tops.

So I feel a little better. But only a little. And only for now.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seen and Heard in PDX

I love the Portland airport. It's my favorite of all the airports I've been through. It's not overly huge so it's quite manageable. It's well-designed. And it's very "Pacific Northwest".

For example, yesterday after we got through the security checkpoint, we bought some bottles of water, and then sat down in this lovely little nook where someone was playing beautiful music on a grand piano.

Yes, a real grand piano, parked right there behind the airport security lines. Notice all the sunlight streaming in through the windowed ceiling and also the lovely green potted plants growing there so happily. It was strange-- such serenity juxtaposed with the hustle and stress of air travel.

We sat down at the nearest little table, though we soon moved to a table by the window so that Jonah could watch airplanes while we listened to the lovely music.

I do love me some good, discreet people watching. So in the few minutes that we sat at that table, I noticed something interesting.

See there? Yeah, behind the kid with the cheezy grin.

That's right. Ipod Guy.

10 feet away from some wonderful, live piano music is a guy with his ears all full of his ipod.


Talk about juxtaposition.

Some people.

I just don't get it.

I, for one, would rather listen to the piano, and yes, I tipped the pianist.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And Then It Hit Me and Soaked My Socks

In My Head

I woke up this morning with Psycho Killer in my head.

EXCEPT it was the lobster version from Julie and Julia.

Unfortunately, I can't embed the video, but here's the link (and you must go watch it!).

Saturday, January 23, 2010




I know.

But I have reasons! First (and foremost)-- computer issues. The family desktop computer here is more infected with trojans (yeah, that's plural, and you have no idea) than a Greek hospital. Needless to say, it's down for the count until a collection of computer geeks can crack the case.

However, you'd think it wouldn't be much of a problem with the sheer volume of laptops around here (and I didn't even bring mine).

Current laptop count in this room as I sit typing here-- 3.

Do you think that's pathetic? We're all in the same room instead of spread all over the world like usual, and we still have to Skype each other.

Yeah, definitely pathetic.

But really-- I don't want to spend time on the computer. I want to hang out with people while I can. Thus the no blogging. See?

Time is of the essence, and it's getting shorter.

And it's really just much more of a pain to deal with photos when I don't have my own computer. I have to download them to Mom's computer and keep track of where they are, and then upload them to my blog, and I have no Gimp for editing. Spoiled? Yes.

It's not that I don't love you enough, dear readers --if there are any of you left. Cuz I do! I'm just too lazy to show it right now.

But I'll make it up to you-- really! I'll post lots of great mediocre photos when I'm forced to leave this wonderful spring-like Oregon weather and return to the Michigan cold which will relegate me to my chair by the woodstove-- perfect for editing and uploading photos.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Right Place, Right Time, Camera in Hand

Yesterday afternoon, my sister and I decided to take a nice long walk...

...down the road (there's a gorgeous volcano there, I promise! You just can't see it for all the clouds)...

...and along a lovely wooded track along the river.

We walked along, chatting and fooling around, and suddenly saw something on the path ahead.

We knew right away what it was and we took off running.

No we weren't being chased by a bear or mountain lion.

But we ran.

I made sure my camera was switched on.

When we reached the clearing ahead, our mouths nearly fell to the ground.

I had been so afraid they'd be gone when we got there.

But they weren't, and I had no idea there would be so many.

Elk. A whole herd. Dozens of them!

My mom and my sister have seen their tracks there lots of times, but they've never actually seen them.

It was simply incredible! And they just stood there and looked at us. Heck, they even posed for pictures! They certainly weren't very afraid of us.

We have no idea how many there were, milling around there in the field, but the photos don't do justice to the sight and numbers of them. There were so many that I couldn't get them all in one photo.

After a few minutes we'd all gotten a good long look at each other (hey, maybe they were kicking themselves for not having a camera at the sight of these dwinky humans...), they started to head off into the trees...

...out of sight... And they quickly and silently disappeared.

Evidently they come this way every day. We could see the well-worn trail where they go down the steep bank to the river a few yards below us.

I have to say-- that was a pretty amazing walk in the woods.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's All a Blur Anyway

Blog neglect. It happens. You would think I would have so much more to write about, except that I'm on vacation and that makes me laaaazy.

I also have a fabulous new-to-me camera, which my brother wrote about on his blog. So you'd think I'd have piles of photos to post as well, except that I'm pretty clueless as to the workings of this contraption. Until I get it all sorted out (as well as get back to my own computer for some photo editing), you can expect to see plenty of photos like this:

...because I don't seem to possess the same level of scrupulousness as my photohaulic brother.

In spite of the dearth of photos and updates here at Casa de la Paint Splashes, you can rest assured that we're having tons of fun.

I just love hanging out with my awesome siblings-- they're a total "gas" and I mean that figuratively as well as literally, if you know what I mean (hint: five brothers. Yeah.).

They're all fun... red plaid and all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For Our Flight`


*Arrived at the airport waaaay earlier than necessary, in spite of bad weather. We were expecting long lines on a Monday morning with heightened security, but there were approximately ten people in the security line. Detroit is dead, people.

*We watched lots of airplanes.

*...And played with airplanes.

*We sat on the ground in the little commuter jet for an extra 45 minutes being deiced. By the time we finally took off, we could have been in Chicago, had they known the meaning of the word "efficiency."

*We ran for a flight that was already leaving.

*That was painful, and I think I'm a little out of shape. Or a lot.

*So we spent four hours in the airport.

*We played.

*Okay, they played.

*I laid on a bench.

*Every airport should have a play place.

*Eventually, we flew some more.

*I wore out the words "soon" "in a while" and "in a few minutes".
"When will we get on the airplane?"
"When are we gonna take off?"
"When are we gonna be there?"
"When will we land?"
"When will we be at Grandma's house?"
Lather, rinse, repeat repeat repeat.

*We made it.

*When we landed in Portland, Jonah was SO excited and said, "Praise God! He brought us to Portland! Wasn't that nice of God?"

*Yep, it sure was.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fun in the Sun (and Snow)

The sunshine is more than welcome today. We've had way too many gray days. The windless 19 degree temperature is welcome (relatively speaking, of course-- I'd prefer 80, but let's not quibble about details) as well. Jonah and I headed outside after lunch to get eggs and take warm water to the chickens and we ended up staying out for over an hour! The fresh air and sunshine are balm to my shriveling, wilted, languishing, withered, seasonal affective disordered soul, I tell you what.

Snow Angels...

...are such fun...

...when you're four years old.

Since the barn door is still frozen shut and the goats are stuck inside all the time, we brought them out to play, too.

They were overjoyed. Opal (the black one above) jumped and ran and had a great old time. She's young-- she can do that. Cappuccino heaved her weary and heavily-pregnant old body slowly, but gratefully, around the yard.

They got in some good shrubbery-nibbling as well.

As long as they stay away from my raspberry canes (their favorite, go figure. They won't touch the stalks in their hay, but they'll happily chomp down the prickly canes of my raspberry plants. Whatever.), I don't care what they eat. In the winter, that is. Summer is a different story.

The snow was too cold and powdery for building the snowman Jonah's been begging for, but a neighbor had plowed our driveway leaving lots of chunky snow for throwing at each other.

After a few more snow angels...

... we decided we were cold and headed in for some obligatory hot cocoa.

Complete with little snowman-shaped marshmallows on top.