The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘weather’

Tall Grass

I live in Oregon. For those of you who know Oregon, that probably says it all. Oregon is beautiful, lush, green.

And there is a reason for that.

It is not good karma. Like most states, Oregon is abusing its state workers to balance its budget, “weed” is the number one unregulated cash crop (jeez, can’t we just tax the shit out of the shit so the state workers can get paid?), and the weeds here are big and strong and totally indifferent to my wishes. Because of freaking rain!

Three days ago, I left my sick house (bronchitis being the primary object being passed around inside) to venture out into the sun. Yes. Oregon does get sun. In August.

Oh, the gods tempt us with moments of beauty, but they are fickle bastards, and we have to wait until they leave the state for their annual retreat on Olympus or wherever they go to to escape the heat before we can enjoy a moment of peace and sun.

No. Here in western Oregon, rain can be mind-numbing depression fodder. So, with great joy, I stepped out into the sun a few days ago. And was greeted by grass as high as my head.  Well, maybe it wasn’t QUITE that tall, but it was pretty damn close.

But the sun was shining, the warmth inspiring, and I said “PREPARE TO MEET THY DOOM” to my lawn. I planned a date with a weed whacker. Just as soon as I got back from my mammogram, an eye appointment, and some much-needed grocery shopping, not to mention the humiliation of having to send my car payment by Moneygram because my number problems finally caught up with me.

I looked at my car payment online, in early May, because I can never remember a) how much it is and b) what day it is due. It said 4/28. Great, I thought, I still have several weeks. You see the flaw, I suppose. Some people can actually see the problem here. Not me. Even when the guy from Wells Fargo called me and told me my payment was way past due. I blithely said, “No, it’s not due until 4/28.” He said, “Right. And that’s the problem.” I sweetly said, “But that’s still two weeks away.” Yep, it was. In the wrong direction.

Now, remember, from the post you probably haven’t read yet, that I had bronchitis a few weeks ago. I took heavy duty drugs because I have a tendency to break ribs if I cough too much, and I lost a week or so. I also lost control of all cognitive functioning and especially lost control of the part of my brain that is numerically challenged. He was right. I’d missed a whole month in terms of that dang car payment. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know. No, I don’t have early-onset Alzheimers. I’m just easily distracted by other things. Flash some bling or an aluminum can and I’m gone…

Anyway, the humiliation. Being poor in America must be a royal bitch. We’re solidly middle class, some might even argue that we’re borderline upper middle class by US standards, filthy rich by global standards. Sort of fits with being upper middle aged, I guess. I had never before had to make a payment by Moneygram. In fact, I had to go several places before someone at a bank pointed out that the Western Union form I’d completely filled out had NOTHING to do with Moneygram. But it gave me some new awareness.

First, the payment was late. So there were late fees and penalties and stuff. Because it was late, they wouldn’t let me pay on the website as I normally do. So, it cost me an additional $9.99 to send a freaking Moneygram, and I had to do it in Albertsons which was ridiculously noisy for a grocery store, and I had to do it over a phone with a guy in India that I couldn’t I understand and who refused to speak loud enough for me to hear him. So I kept saying, “What?” and practically yelling to make myself heard. All the while wondering what it must be like to have this be a regular occurrence. My calendrical error cost me over $50 more than the payment by the time I was done.

Obviously, there are so many things wrong with the last paragraph. Albertsons, alone, I could write a book on. Outsourcing of American jobs. My aging ears. Extortion. Banks. Extortion by Banks. Fees on the backs of the poor. The way we treat the poor.

I could wax poetic on being poor in America (read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, if you haven’t. Should be required reading for all middle class folks) (also read the Bible, if you think this country is based on Biblical principles. It ain’t. Especially read the parts on how to treat the poor, usury, gleaning, Sabbath practice, and Jubilee years) (And don’t give me that “It’s OT” crap because JESUS, the main man according to Christians, has a lot to say about how we treat the poor as well. And NOTHING to say about homosexuals. Just saying.) (Then, if you want a real education, you might want to notice that the Qur’an teaches, and Muslims practice, giving money to care for the poor. Not just a box of $.39 Mac and Cheese on food bank Sundays).

This Great Depression Recession is being felt by a lot of us, even those of us who thought we were invincible due to education, training, jobs, unions, seniority, and all that. Here at the farmette, we’re feeling it from the cuts state workers have had to take in wages and benefits, and in the decreasing amount publishers are willing to pay for indexing. And we’re the lucky ones. We still have jobs. We still have options.  We still have health insurance to pay for the mammogram, eye glasses, and that stupid codeine that allows my ribs to stay in one piece.

Okay, so I’m ranting. But the way we treat people, especially vulnerable people, in this country is racking up some serious bad karma for this country.

I’m pretty sure it’s not the cause of the bad weather karma, though. Oregon just has a lot of rain. We don’t have big floods, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, raging wildfires. Well, we do, but they tend to be finite and well-contained and infrequent.

So, by the time my boobs had been mashed flat in a machine that repeatedly poked at my most recently broken rib until I was in tears, and my new eyeglasses were making me see the world just slightly “off,” and I’d been humiliated by some guy in India who probably has YOUR job if you’re now unemployed, I was in no mood to deal with the weeds in the front yard.

Besides, it was raining and has been ever since. The weeds now ARE as tall as I am. That would be 5’3-3/4″ tall. Unfortunately, we have several unemployed young people in our family. Guess it’s time to put some of them to work for a day or two whacking away at all the problems in the yard. Wish I could whack away at theirs.

Ten Things on Tuesday: Weather Edition

  1. Right now, all Portland can talk about is the weather. We are expecting snow and freezing rain, and even if it’s just a small storm, it’s big news here.
  2. In Portland, we like to name our storms. I guess we feel left out because we don’t get hurricanes with pre-assigned names. So we have the Columbus Day Storm and the Arctic Blast (that one seems to get recycled, but I may be wrong) and the “Remember When the Only Thing on TV was that Mud Slide Wiping out that Truck” storm.
  3. People wonder why Portland is paralyzed by two inches of snow. I’ll tell you why:
  4. Hills. Portland is built, in large part, on hills. Those of you back east are thinking “hills?” But you think the Laurentians are mountains. Nope. Those are hills. I grew up in Portland on a hill higher than most of the Laurentians. You don’t know from hills. Out here, a mountain is a thing with glaciers and a timberline and snow cap all year round. We have plenty of those, too. A hill is a steep thing covered with houses and trees, and your ears pop when you go up one. Even if you’ve lived there most of your life. Trust me on this. I got many an earache on the way home from school as a child because my ears don’t pop very easily.
  5. Lack of real winter: We only get snow and ice a few days a year. Very few people know how to drive in it for reasons I will explain momentarily. Our seasons here are Rainy, Winter, Rainy, Spring, Rainy, Rose Festival (mandatory rain), Hotter-than-Hell, Drought, Indian Summer, Blustery, Stormy, Rainy, and January. January is usually clear, cold, and sunny, a season all to itself. Unless winter chooses to happen then.
  6. Snowplows and Gravel Trucks. Because we seldom need them, we don’t have them. Oh, we have a few. Maybe four. And if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know it’s a freaking huge place in terms of land mass. Much larger than, say, San Francisco, Seattle, Manhattan. Even I can walk across Manhattan easily. It would take days to walk across Portland. We spread out instead of up. So the four gravel trucks go out and put gravel on the snow on a few main streets. During the day, it melts. Then it freezes, trapping the gravel inside the ice. So much for the gravel. Until it all ends up at the side of the road and starts destroying your windshield.
  7. Compound snow and ice: Most places in this country get snow. Light, fluffy, packs-down-and-you-can-drive-on-it snow. We get wet crap that turns to ice. In the daytime, it melts. At night, it refreezes. So you get a layer of snow covered by ice. The next day, that becomes ice covered with snow covered with more ice. Repeat daily until it goes away, adding new layers of ice each day. Ice and hills are not a good mix.
  8. Chains. Nobody owns them. If we do own them, we can’t find them because we took them out of the car after the last storm and they are somewhere in the garage. Or they are in the other car. Which is not where you are. Once it starts snowing you can’t buy them because you can’t find any. If you do find some, the store wants $200 for a set.  And you must have chains. (See compound snow and ice.) Studded tires are a waste of time. They just make people think they can drive in the snow, but they are worthless on ice. In fact, I suspect they provide yet another surface to slip on, and that you’re better off with mud and snows instead of studs. Of course, being a lesbian, I have no use for studs anyway.
  9. Freezing rain. This is rain that falls from the sky and turns to solid ice. Also known as a silver thaw. Beautiful but deadly. If this happens, we don’t go anywhere. Well some of us do. Which leads to number 10.
  10. Most popular snow day pastime: Watching the news. The storm gets named, the news stations report on it day and night, with lots of clips of cars sliding down hills into other cars. Sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos on steroids. The MAX line can’t run because the electrical lines that power the thing get covered with ice. The buses can’t run because chains, which are put on at the first sign of snow, don’t work on ice. Airplanes freeze to the runway. Sometimes the freaking rivers freeze (and we have BIG rivers out here.) Numbnuts who think this is “normal” snow go for a drive. They end up in emergency rooms, on the news, or both.
  11. Other popular pastimes: Cardboard sleds, school snow days, digging the car out just so you can wreck it at the end of the driveway on the, duh, ice.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to right now. Waiting for snow and ice. YIPPEE!

Where HAVE I been?

Not at my desk. Which is frightening because I have A LOT of work to do. But the Divine Miss M aka Maggie has been keeping me busy. College doesn’t start until late September but she’s off for a month in Kansas with her older sister and she HAD to get her new computer and iPod before she leaves. So Monday, I dropped a large amount of money and a full day buying her a new MacBook.

Yesterday, when I COULD have worked, I spent most of the day either in bed with “fibro flu” or in the recliner knitting. This is not to say I didn’t work. I don’t have the luxury of not working at all because I have two substantial projects on my desk, both in the early stages, both due a week from today. So I work most of the time I’m not with the kid or sleeping. I even eat most of my meals at my desk.

It’s raining. It is, last time I checked, August 20th. This is a day I should be complaining about high temps and moving all the fans in the house into my office. Instead, it’s raining. And rain means fibro pain and general irritability on my part. So be glad you have some distance between us because right now I am not a fun person.

More later. Got to get some work done. Got a quota of pages to fill……30 on the theology book, 40 on the education book for a total of 70 pages. And, actually, I should try to double that because tomorrow I will be at a hospital on the other side of the city sitting with a friend whose husband is having open heart surgery. If you are the praying sort, please pray for Elizabeth, Jeff, and their daughter, Candace.

More Whining

I’m never surprized when my body does something odd. I am, after all, at that age. But when it does something odd and I’m not sure how it did it, I worry more about my mind. The most recent example. My back started to hurt after church on Sunday and I knew immediately that a rib was out of joint. No idea how it got that way. And I’ve never had a rib out of joint before so I don’t know how I knew. But I did. I called my chiropractor on Monday and they couldn’t see me until the next day. I needed to see someone THEN so I played Russian roulette with my bones and called a random chiro. She confirmed my diagnosis, and then told me a vertebra was also out. She put it all back together and I felt good. For a bit. When you do something like that, all the supporting muscles also get whacked and within a few hours I was hurting again. Although I could breath which I hadn’t been able to do while the rib was out.

Tuesday I went to see my own people and was massaged, heated, cracked, rolled, percussed, and otherwise pampered back to well-being. With the caveat that my muscles were gonna hurt and my fibro might flare. Dang caveats anyway. So, not only is it going to be hot tomorrow, we are out of diet Pepsi, have no A/C, and my back hurts. I am not pleased.

Red Flag Warning

If you go to the NOAA weather site, the red blotch you see on the map is ME. No, it’s not acne. I’m way to old for that. And it’s not heat rash. Yet. It probably will be by this time tomorrow. My first thought was “red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight.” But then I read the stupid legend and it means HTH! That’s shortcut for hotter than hell. And extreme fire danger.

I’m sitting here by the creek where it’s lush and green and cool. But I know that tomorrow it will be lush and green and HTH. Yep, folks, it’s going into the high 90s/low 100s tomorrow and this time I know about it. Prepare for the whining.

Why? No A/C. One measly fan. Just tonight we talked about getting the ceiling fans we’re wired for but I think it’s a bit late. Which means tomorrow I will be sitting in my own easy-bake oven of an office, finishing up the last 80 pages of a book full of statistics (math! heat! my two least favorite things!). No trip to the river. No scootering to create my own A/C. No sitting on the shady deck with my knitting or a good book. Maybe I’ll go the grocery store and stick my head in something cool. But mostly I will be working.

Did I mention I love my work? NOT WHEN IT’S BLOODY HOT.

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