Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Timberline

Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. It played coy with us during May, June, and on into this month.  After a nearly rainless winter, which actually got kind of scary by mid-February, the rains arrived in March and hung on (annoyingly) until half-past July. It even rained until after noon last Friday, while we were out at the county fair…something veteran fair-goers declared they had never seen. Though I’m not a native, I know rain is neither usual nor welcome in midsummer in the Western Oregon valleys. This is our 21st year in the area, and I’ve only encountered rain between July 1st and September 1st on a handful of occasions during all that time. Customarily, the gods generously grant us these eight weeks to dry out after our sodden winters.

So, now it is summer. And I am enjoying the heck out of it. It’s been doing a great job of distracting me from the reality of my birthday (I just can’t seem to get entirely away from that subject. Slightly obsessive, are we…?) We’ve had the opportunity to capture and enjoy some quintessential "Summer in Oregon" moments. Two weeks ago, we took a trip to "The Mountain" (that would be Mt. Hood, for those of you who aren’t up with Oregon’s regional geographical jargon.) On the spur of the moment, we were able to get a room for one night at Timberline Lodge. Built by FDR’s WPA, the Lodge opened its doors in 1937; a monument to Roosevelt’s unprecedented programs to feed, house and occupy the jobless hordes produced by this country’s Great Depression.  These days, everything I encounter is tainted by my political frustration. *Sigh*! 
Can you picture the nouveau riche House of Bush, faced with the same national disaster, developing anything approaching the innovation of the WPA? The "I got mine, and if you’re real lucky, enough of it might trickle down on you to keep you from starving" people? Don’t make me laugh. Or cry…

 This eclectic hodge-podge of grand scale timber-camp architecture with ‘30’s Art Nouveau, craftsman, and pioneer accents was only open for a few years before the federal monies that kept it running needed to be funneled off to help finance the War. Post World War II, it remained closed down, fell into disrepair, and was nearly doomed to be torn down--during the administration of a Republican ex-general president who decided that the federal funds were better spent on the strategic necessity of an Interstate Freeway network.  Fortunately for the forsaken Timberline, its cause was taken up by a private corporation, which, in 1955, partnered with the Federal Government to painstakingly restore it to its original state, and has faithfully and lovingly maintained it ever since. 

Taking nothing away from Eisenhower and his mission to connect the disparate parts of our country with a federally maintained roadway system, which in itself was a grand and far reaching legacy… Still, in my mind’s eye, I envision a post-war Republican party already slobbering to reverse and discredit the legacy of an all-too-successful Democratic administration…a bone they continue to worry sixty years later.

The weather up on The Mountain was incredible. While the valleys simmered in 90-degree heat, a fresh breeze licked at the flags posted on the Lodge’s front balcony and tempered the air to a more bearable 75º during the day, and a downright chilly 50º after dark. Perfect for cooling down the Lodge’s non-air-conditioned rooms overnight. We ate, drank, moseyed around the Lodge complex, shopped at the souvenir shops, drove down the mountain, ate and drank some more, and took scads of pictures. Spending the night at the Lodge is like taking a room in a massive museum/art gallery. The place is literally crammed with bits of artwork and woodcraft tucked into every nook and cranny. The chunky, peeled log newel posts on the stairway leading to the guest rooms are carved into the shapes of native animals. A marvelous stained glass "Paul Bunyan" mural adorns most of the wall space in the tiny "Blue Ox" café, tucked under the staircase on the lower level of the Lodge. The massive beams and timbers that form the framework of the building are in themselves awe-inspiring works of craftsmanship.

We have visited the Lodge on day trips in the past, and always thoroughly enjoyed it. But there was just something about actually sleeping there that was magical. There was a misty portal to a past life that I slipped through as easily as if I had been one of the people whose hands had joined in to create the lodge almost seventy years ago. I felt there were ghosts in the rooms and walking the corridors…friendly, loving spirits who stayed on as a reminder of what simple people working together toward a common goal can accomplish. The beauty and sturdy, enduring simplicity of their handiwork. They welcomed me, took my hand, showed me around their lovely home; and made me feel as if it was my home, too. I half expected to discover their auras in the pictures I couldn’t stop myself from clicking, one after another after another. Not only did my digital camera not record the genial phantasms, but it failed to do any real justice to the place at all. Maybe because the beauty was as much the feeling as the sights, and pictures can only capture one flat dimension of the Lodge’s rarefied universe. I’ll just have to go back. Often.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The More I Know...

Lest anyone think the shock of my fiftieth birthday sent me off the deep end… I am still kickin’. We did a five-day event last week, from Wednesday through Sunday, not including set-up earlier in the week, and returning to the fairgrounds to pick up the trailer yesterday evening. Between that, and trying to recover from the back injury, I haven’t had much time or inspiration to journal. Thankfully, the back thing seems to be working itself out. I actually walked over four miles this afternoon…upright, in the manner of a true homo sapien. There were times during the last couple of weeks when I thought I would never again attain that uprightness of posture. Thought I’d been reduced to Quasimodo stature for the rest of my natural life…

During the slow times at the County Fair, I had the opportunity to do some political reading. No internet connections out at the fairgrounds, so I actually had to resort to reading books and magazines. I bought the current issue of Newsweek (the one with Karl Rove’s contemptible face on the cover) to catch up on that mess. And I dove into a book I bought on Marigolds2’s recommendation—War Made Easy. At some future date, when I have more time to do an in-depth post, I’ll go into more detail about both of these. The reading makes me uneasy. Lately, I find myself afflicted with a malady that anyone who decides to educate oneself about matters political must contract at some point: utter hopelessness.

The more I read about American politics, both current and past, the more I become convinced that we are truly beyond hope. That government is not about the will or the benefit of the people. That it is about subterfuge, power-brokering, aspirations of global dominance, and making sure that the pockets of the richest of the rich, who pay generously for the privilege, are continuously and heavily lined. The only use our government has for the everyday Joe is to manipulate him into lining up behind whatever campaigns those in power want to advance. They somehow manage to keep us believing that "We the people" have a voice, and that our leaders listen to us. That our votes actually count for something, and that the most powerful people in the government got there through some kind of Constitutionally ordained process.

The more I know, the more I wish I could go back to being blissfully ignorant…

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Red Hat, Anyone?


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple



With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain  And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.


But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.



I am considering founding a chapter of the Red Hat Society.  I've been suffering from "Red Hat Envy" for years.  Now that I've reached that "Certain Age," I can stop coveting those marvelous chapeaux and don one of my own.  Anyone interested?

***The poem is"Warning" by Jenny Jones.  The red hats are all available at the Red Hat Society Website.

Look Out!