Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good Reading, Good Writing

I attended a reading by my favorite author, David Sedaris, on Tuesday night. This is the second year that my daughter and I have heard him read in Austin, Texas. We’ve already made plans to attend again next year. It was such an enjoyable evening. He read several selections that were familiar from his books, but he also gave us a preview of his new book which will be published next October.

I especially enjoyed when he read selections from his diary. It gave me a glimpse into where he gets his inspiration for his writing. His ability to see the humor in everyday situations is a gift.

At last year’s performance he read an unfinished piece about airline travel. This year he read the completed story. I will never pass gas on the move again without thinking about “crop dusting.”

The following is a snippet from my favorite Sedaris book. Every time I read it I laugh out loud.

On my fifth trip to France I limited myself to the words and phrases that people actually use. From the dog owners I learned "Lie down," "Shut up," and "Who shit on this carpet?" The couple across the road taught me to ask questions correctly, and the grocer taught me to count. Things began to come together, and I went from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. "Is thems the thoughts of cows?" I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window. "I want me some lamb chop with handles on 'em."

— David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day)
He signed my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day on Tuesday.

Good writing, good reading…damn life is good!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dancing for Miles and Miles

My hero, Oprah, is on a campaign to stop people from texting and using a cell phone while driving.  I have yet to figure out how the bluetooth works in my five-year-old car and I only know how to text one person, my friend Shawn.  Use of technology while driving isn't going to be a hard habit for me to break.  I'm hoping that Oprah won't get any more ideas for safe driving that would be more difficult for me to comply with.

Living in Eastern Oregon we're used to wide open spaces and nearly empty highways.  I grew up in Southern California and learned to drive in grid-lock.  I know how to dart in and out of traffic.  In Eastern Oregon  we do a lot of driving on long straight nearly empty highways.  It can be tricky in the winter when we have ice and snow, but most months we're driving in a straight line at speeds never seen in Southern California.

Today I drove north to Tri-Cities, Washington to do some shopping.  I was listening to NPR and found myself singing along with a snappy gospel song.  I'm not a regular church goer and gospel is not my usual musical genre, but it was a catchy tune and I couldn't resist.  I flipped the channel to a classic rock station and listened to "Beat It."  I couldn't help myself...I was singing and car dancing.  When they played Neil Young's "Rockin in the Free World,"  I turned the radio way up and sang along. I love those long stretches of open highway, good tunes, and no audience,

I hope Oprah doesn't get anymore safe driving ideas.  There's no way I want to give up car dancing and belting out show tunes.  I'm grateful for music.  Life is good.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lions Roar for Easter - Only the Good Friday

I've been participating in the "Only the Good Friday" meme that was started at
Below is my weekly contribution to the optimism virus sweeping the blogosphere.

The Hermiston Lion's Club held an Easter egg hunt last weekend.  For the past eight years the Lions have invited special needs children to hunt eggs in a local park.  I have been a Lion for three years and the Easter egg hunt is my favorite activity. 

The kids are greeted by students dressed as Peter Rabbit, Thumper, and, of course, a lion.  The children each have their pictures taken with Peter.  High school students volunteer to wear the costumes and they do a great job of encouraging the children to participate.  They patiently help the kids to adjust to the unfamiliar giant plush animals.

The Lions "hide" hundreds of eggs across the lawn and the kids find all of them in just a few minutes.  This hunt is designed for special needs students.  There are a limited number of participants and lots of eggs.  Even the child who needs to flap his arms and turn in circles three times before starting to hunt is assured of securing eggs before they are all claimed by other participants. 

One of our members brings a llama and an alpaca for the children to pet.  The kids all marvel over how soft the animals are.  They take turns feeding them and giggle as the alpaca's lips sweep across their palms seeking the offered feed.

It was a cold and windy spring morning in the park, but my heart was warmed watching the smiles on the children's faces. 

I am grateful for community organizations like the Lion's who make our communities good places to live.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Role Models

When my daughter was 7 or 8 she told me that she wanted to be a journalist "like Oprah or Connie Chung."  At the time I remember thinking how remarkable it was that this blond, blue eyed child had Chinese-American and African-American role models.  Her generation was fortunate to have strong female role models from many different ethnic and racial groups.  Although my daughter didn't grow up to be a journalist, she's a chemist,  those role models helped her become the accomplished woman that she is today.  She grew up knowing it was okay to be smart and that girls could be good at math and science.  Now she has two daughters of her own. 

My granddaughters  at 2 and 4 have yet to express any preferences for their future careers.  However, Hunter, the 2 year old, is convinced that she is a princess.  She insists on wearing "princess dresses" everyday.  Knowing how important it is that girls have self-esteem and are supported for their talents as well as their appearance, we are always quick to provide positive reinforcement to Hunter when she says "I bootiful." 

We respond "Yes, you are beautiful and smart too!" 

To which she replies "No, I bootiful.  I not 'telligent, I bootiful."

"Yes, Hunter.  You are both intelligent and beautiful." 

Where's an intellectual princess role model when you need one?

I am grateful for strong women who have led the struggle for equity.  My granddaughters have bright futures because of the work of many courageous women.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Moment of Clarity on I-82 - Only the Good Friday

For several weeks I've been participating in the "Only the Good Friday" meme that was started at Below is my weekly contribution to the optimism virus sweeping the blogosphere.

Is there a sixth sense that warns us of impending danger? I do know that there is an instant of clarity on the way to meeting destiny. The clarity of vision appeared in slow motion, the future was seen and the outcome was immediately known. It happened to me several years ago on I-82.

The sky was blue, the pavement dry and straight and I was headed west to Portland at speed. As I passed under the overpass at Three Mile Canyon I saw the twisted metal bar in the road and I knew, in that instant, that I was in trouble. The loud bang and the shudder of the steering wheel confirmed my premonition. I hit the brakes and muscled the car to the side of the road. My left front tire sported a six-inch gaping hole and I was in the middle of nowhere.  It may be an interstate highway, but in eastern Oregon the traffic is sparse and I was 10 miles from Boardman and the nearest service station.

Like McIver I quickly assessed my resources.  I had neglected to pack a Swiss army knife or, what would have been even more useful, a cell phone.  Fortunately I had the owner's manual. I put my skills to the test and, following the pictures, I managed to locate the spare tire and the jack. I had to read the page several times to figure out how to get them out of the trunk. I then turned to page 118, Changing a Tire. The first step was to block the car’s tires and this was easily accomplished. The second step was to loosen the lug nuts…that’s when I shifted to Plan B…get help.

I left the tire and jack by the side of the car and started walking to a warehouse that I could see in the distance. As I reached the freeway on ramp at the opposite side of the freeway, a woman stopped and asked me if I needed assistance. She drove me to a nearby farm and introduced me to Juan, the farm mechanic.

Juan loaded a big jack from the shop in the back of a farm pickup. I jumped in the cab and we headed back to the freeway,  As we approached the Three Mile Canyon east-bound exit, my car was visible across the freeway. I couldn’t see the spare tire. “Oh no,” I said to Juan “I can’t see my spare tire. I left it propped up by the flat.” The tire was gone.

Juan drove over the overpass and on to the westbound ramp so we could get to my car. As I got closer I could see that the trunk was closed. I had left it open. Sure enough, there was no tire by the side of the car and the jack wasn’t there either.

A stranger had come across my car abandoned by the roadside and seen my dilemma. This stranger changed my tire. Put the flat and the jack away and closed the trunk. No note, no business card, no clues as to who my rescuer was.

I’ve read about random acts of kindness. This was the first time I experienced it. It’s one of the reasons I love Eastern Oregon.

Life is good in rural America!
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