Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Now This Is Just Funny--An Environmental Alert!

Here's proof that it's basically impossible to go green. (Well, it's as much proof as you get about most environmental issues these days anyway, particularly global warming.) As long as people and cows exist, the planet is doomed no matter what. You might as well buy a Hummer and fill it up with plastic bags and non-biodegradable Styrofoam peanuts...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Escaping In Oregon

Where's your favorite place to escape reality? If you're like me, you have someplace special that soothes your soul, or maybe several places, where pressure, circumstances, unpleasantness, or just general routine lose their grip on you, and you feel your spirit relax. Who knows, perhaps you don't need such a place, but I suspect, if that is true, that you are in the minority. Most of us need to unburden ourselves of our normal daily lives occasionally, no matter how well favored those daily lives tend to be. Could be your escaping place is right in your own home, in your kitchen, or the pages of a good book, or right outside your back door, in the fertile soil of your own private garden. Possibly you look for emotional refreshment further afield--an elegant restaurant, a mountain lake, or a far-off vacation retreat. Maybe such renewal isn't to be found in a place for you at all, but in a mental recalibration of sorts, by taking the time to stop and breathe, and remember what the things are that you love best about your life. I confess that for me the right place can help a lot when I need to fine-tune my attitude. I could list a dozen places where I love to escape and recalibrate . Oregon is a treasure trove of escapability.

Some escapes have proven their worth so well to Ked and me that they have become tradition--not just the where, but the when, as well. For various reasons that I will not go into here, Mother's Day is a prime time for escapism. Much as I am glad for the moms I know to have a day that makes them feel special and gives the people who love them a chance to affirm that fact, I don't like Mother's Day much. Alert: That last sentence is actually a substantial understatement. Truthfully, I can't stand it. So, in the last few years, Ked and I designed a Mother's Day Avoidance Retreat, which enables me to cope with the hated holiday, by replacing it with an unaccustomed plunge into the wonderful world of self-indulgence. I get spoiled rotten. I'm talking shopping for pretty clothes and shoes, eating out, and driving through the most glorious countryside to the beautiful Oregon coast, with undivided spousal attention to boot! I feel pampered as all get out. This would never work if I was usually the self-indulgent type, if I bought myself clothes on a whim, or ate out at nice restaurants as a matter of course. Then it would just be same-old-same-old, and it would take a lot more shopping, and a lot fancier restaurants, and a lot prettier coastline (although I don't think that one's possible) to distract me from the dreaded M-Day. Fortunately, I almost never shop for clothes, except on this one self-indulgent spring day, don't go out to eat very often, and rarely make it to the coast more than twice a year, so this little escape we plan every May works like a charm. It's actually gotten to the point where I look forward to Mother's Day weekend!

Anyway, all of this personal drivel is leading to pictures--and I apologize if the verbal detour has led you to focus on wondering why the heck I hate Mother's Day so much, rather than on lovely Oregon escaping places. I didn't mean to dwell on the negative, really just more to explain why we were out taking scenic pictures this weekend. I'll get more on track now and start showing you the pretty.

Driving out Highway 18 is a visual feast, especially in spring, when green competes with green to see which shade can reign supreme. Even the drizzle takes on a bit of an Irish hue.

The blue coastal range spreads out behind the fertile fields. If you get close enough, you can see the mountains defying global warming to hang on to some May-time snow.

After our shopping spree in Lincoln City, we got out of the Oregon drizzle by heading to our very favorite of the plethora of stellar coastal restaurants. If you ever make it to Depoe Bay, Tidal Raves is an absolute must, and not only because of the fab view--the food is outstanding!

Here's a better view from the parking lot of Tidal Raves. The one thing that eatery lacks is windshield wipers for the picture windows, so sometimes the ocean is a bit blurry, but just stepping outside brings the view into focus.

As we were driving back home in the evening, the sun decided to grace us with her presence. One of the nice things about Oregon in the spring and summer is the length of the days. While the sun is gone by 4:30 0r 5:00 in the deeps of winter, by June the golden orb will hang around until almost 10:00 on the longest days.

I want to cross these fields and climb right up those distant hills. Beckon, beckon, beckon...

Do pictures get much more bucolic than this?

We loved the way the grass looks in this shot. Almost makes me wish I were a cow.

This is the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, home of Howard Hughes' famed Spruce Goose. In the foreground are the makings of some future Spruce Goose vintage wines. Besides the expected planes and aviation artifacts, the museum boasts a wine tasting room, an IMAX theater, and the obligatory store. Ked and I fully plan to head back out to McMinnville sometime soon to get a look inside--and it'll be an even bigger draw for us once the currently-under-construction space museum opens to the public. Ooh... space museum!! (We're heading to Washington D.C. in a couple weeks, so until the local museum opens, we have the national version to keep our space-fever alive.)

Out behind the museum proper there are planes a-plenty, and even a tank or two. This shot looks like something out of Band of Brothers to Ked and me, although, thankfully, there were no accompanying sound effects during our visit.

I know nothing about this plane other than that it once was the property of the U.S. Air Force. What I'm guessing about it is that it probably flies fast enough to make lunch reappear. I'd love to sit in it and check out all the gizmos--not so sure about flying in it, though. Ked, on the other hand...

Here's a funny little specimen. It looks fake, like somebody got carried away with one of those model kits, and then forgot to finish the front. I think it's name should be "Stubby."

After driving around the museum, we passed through Newberg on our way back to Portland. It's full of charming photo-worthy locations like the Newberg Public Library, pictured above.

Speaking of charm, when we head out to Evergreen Aviation Museum in the hopefully-not-too-distant-future, we might want to stop in here, at this lovely little wine lounge and bistro, appropriately named "Crush." I assume they are referring both to romance and grape-crushing, although I can't help thinking about 150-year-old sea turtles from Finding Nemo.
So that was our escape day. Pretty good, huh? I'm already looking forward to next year's least favorite holiday!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Running Tally

Here is your running milestone report from the slowest runner ever to hit the treadmill: I ran seven miles today! Mind you, I'm achingly slow (especially when I plan to go for any distance), and I ran the last mile as a series of sprints, with bits of breathing in between; but I ran it nonetheless, so I'm adding it to my tally. I often do sprint intervals at the end of a run, and don't usually count them in my total, but today I'm feeling generous to myself. I only stopped for fifteen or twenty seconds between fast (for me) quarter miles at the end, so I'm cutting myself some mileage slack. Do I sound like I'm rationalizing? That's okay. I'm really the only one holding my feet to the fire about this whole running thing anyway. I can rationalize a little bit if it helps me make progress.

You know the frustrating thing about trying to turn myself back into a runner? It's that I'm so bleepingly inconsistent. I fight asthma every time I run, and sometimes it totally gets the better of me. I was invited to go running with some other women on Tuesday, and I really would have liked to have gone, both for the company and for the inspiration, but, besides being slower than molasses on longer runs, I'm never sure which days are going to find my lungs remotely cooperative. It turned out this Tuesday that nothing was going to get my body past the two miles I ran on the treadmill (and we're not even talking about adding any incline), so I was glad I chickened out of running on hilly trails with women who are far more serious about the activity than I am. Maybe someday I'll get myself consistent enough to hit the hills with real runners, but for now I'm just going to be happy with the leisurely seven miles I did today. Now, the friend who asked me along with her to tackle running with the pack is training for a marathon, and put in a fifteen mile run on Sunday, so I can't be too impressed with myself, but I really find her accomplishments an inspiration, not a competition. Everybody has to start somewhere, right? I don't have any plans to go for the big distances, but maybe over time I can pick up the pace a little and get to go play with the big girl runners someday. I think that's a good goal--if I can convince those lungs to get with the program!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Dignity of Living Beings

More precisely, the dignity of... plants. Prepare for the ridiculous as the "leaders" of the world, starting with those intrepid Swiss, cross the new moral frontier to establish "plant rights." Oh, good grief.