Here Comes That Good Old Oregon Rain

Sunrise_92117[1]It was like God flipped a switch. Overnight this sunny beach town turned into the soggy Oregon coast, complete with hard rain, wind, and thunder. Note dog under the desk. Summer was so good it’s hard to be easygoing about losing it. I did not want to stash the lounge cushions or strap down the hot tub cover. I did not want to stock up on pellets for the pellet stove. I did not want to wake up to darkness and spend my day in storm-cloud gloom.

Tough, says God. Lots of people have it much worse these days, with earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. And didn’t I pray hard for rain to put the fires out? Yes, I did. I even cleaned out my gutters and stacked my wood in preparation. Before you know it, I’ll be making soup.

But I’ve already got two pairs of soggy shoes and two pairs of soggy socks and one pair of soggy jeans hanging up to dry from our recent rainy walks. Annie, my canine personal trainer,  does not cut me any slack for rainy days. Yesterday’s trek through the woods may have been our longest speed walk since her knee surgery at the end of May. That dog was truckin’. The rain soaking into her fur didn’t seem to bother her. Me, I could have done without it.

I wore one of Fred’s old hats, his old rain jacket (I wore mine out), and my own jeans and tennies. The rain soaked into the hat and cascaded down the jacket onto my pants. It leaked into my shoes. I shivered now and then, even though it was still 60 degrees. Wait till December when we go below freezing.

My hat knocking against my raincoat made a noise that convinced me a bear was watching us. No. Bears are smart enough to stay in when it rains. We saw the usual collection of dead newts, squashed mice, and discarded fast-food containers. The blackberries are gone, and the first mushrooms have sprouted up. The neighbors’ RV is wrapped up in a silver tarp, vacation time over.  The yellow school bus rolled by us, depositing its last passenger on Birch Street. School is in session. We have started religious education at church. I have traded sandals for boots. My online piano lesson featured the song “Autumn Leaves.”

The calendar says it’s the first day of autumn. But who cares what the calendar says? We need only watch the sky. These days, it keeps changing. When I woke up this morning, we had blue sky. Now it’s all clouds. Yesterday, before the sky turned black and it rained, I saw bright pink clouds above the trees. “Annie, look!” I said. She was too busy staring at her empty bowl to appreciate the sunrise. Nor was she interested at lunchtime when at least five different kinds of birds congregated in the back yard. Stellar’s jays, robins, flickers, juncos, and sparrows. The birds are getting ready for winter.

Grab your raincoat. Here we go.

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The ebook version of The Best of Unleashed in Oregon is online now at Amazon.com. Only $2.99. Grab yourself a copy. If you prefer a paperback, that’s in the works. It should be available next week at the same place.

 

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Sunshine and cheese on the Oregon Coast

“Enjoy the sunshine,” our waitress at the Pelican Pub in Pacific City told us as we finished our delicious lunch. My brother Mike and his wife Sharon cracked up. “Why does everybody talk about the weather around here?” Mike asked.
The waitress, a friendly but disorganized coastie, explained that we haven’t seen much sun this year. We’ve had rain, snow and wind so intense the parking lot is still covered over with sand that blew in off the beach. As she spoke, the sun was muted by clouds, but she still deemed it a good day because it wasn’t raining and the temperature was up to almost 60.
Mike shook his head. Where he lives in California, it’s in the 90s now and the sun shines every day.
While Mike and Sharon visited, we were blessed with mostly sunny days and only a few spritzes of rain. On our first day together, we headed north to Tillamook. Mike wanted to taste some cheese. But I think he really wanted to taste the ice cream. This is a good time to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Tourist season has not quite started, so it isn’t crowded. Just inside the front door, Sharon inhaled the pungent mix of cheese, sugar and caramel corn. “It smells so good in here!”

We headed up the stairs to the viewing area where we could watch men and women in white clothes and hairnets turning 40-pound blocks of cheese into one- and two-pound loafs. What would it be like to do that all day with people watching, we wondered. As a computer kiosk babbled about sending “cheesemail” to one’s friends, we checked out the displays that described how they make their cheese and ice cream.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is all about marketing. The short factory tour leads past a tasting area into a room full of cheese to buy, plus a gift shop, cafe and ice cream counter. People were lined up about 12 deep when Mike got in line for his marionberry cone.
“We can get this stuff at the grocery store,” I kept telling my loved ones. Nah, not the same, they said.
From the cheese factory, we drove north a ways, stopping at a Jerky factory outlet, TCS Jerky.com. There’s also a sausage factory, Debbie D’s, in town. Apparently, people are eager to get on the “factory” bandwagon.

Mike had a yen to see the bay north of town, so we took a turn at Garibaldi, where the wind whipped our hair and clothes so hard we paused only long enough to take pictures before turning back toward home.

Our next traveling day, we stayed local, stopping at the cemetery, Pick of the Litter Thrift Store and the shops on the Bayfront before a big enchilada dinner at home.

My visitors are gone now, and I miss them. Annie does, too. Auntie Sharon bought her peanut butter treats and gave her terrific head massages with her long nails.
Today the clouds have rolled back in. Feels like home.

Lessons from the Storms

What a crazy time we’ve had here on the Oregon Coast. Over the last week, we’ve been blanketed with snow, pummeled by wind, and drowned with rain. We’ve had power failures, trees down, closed roads and flooding. Highway 101 just north of where I live has a big chunk out of it where the land slid out from underneath it. Every trip to Newport is fraught with the worry about whether we’ll be able to get back.

At one point, all the roads east were closed, along with the Yaquina Bridge where the wind threw a semi into a pickup truck. I wondered how that could possibly happen until I tried to drive home from church yesterday. I feared that any second, the wind would have its way with my car.

Meanwhile, the creeks have turned into rivers, and the rivers have turned into lakes. Today, on a rare storm-free day, people are returning to flooded houses to see what they have left. We definitely got paid back for all the clear days we had in December, and the storms aren’t over. Rain and wind are expected to return tomorrow. Everybody’s talking about the weather. Conversations often conclude with, “Well, that’s life on the Oregon coast.”

It can be a challenge living here, but we certainly appreciate our sunny days. Meanwhile, I’ve learned a few lessons from the crazy weather. Here are just a few:

1) If you don’t buy rainboots, you’ll always have wet feet. They don’t have to be cute, just waterproof.
2) Don’t let the gas tank or the refrigerator go empty, and stock up on toilet paper. You might not be able to drive to the store.
3) Water and electricity are not guaranteed.
4) Find that old camp stove and figure out how to work it.
5) Keep at least one old-style phone that works without electricity.
6) If the sun appears, run outside and pay homage.
7) If you won’t go outside in the rain, the dog won’t either.
8) The best coastal hairdo is a hat.
9) All plans are tentative.
10) Get a boat. 

What have you learned with this winter’s weather?

Help, It’s Not Raining!

 We had some freakishly hot days on the Oregon Coast last week. Saturday got up into the 80s. We figure that was summer. Seriously.

Nobody knows how to handle these days. Bugs come out of nowhere, including crane flies and flying carpenter ants as big as hummingbirds. We don’t know what to wear because we finally have to take off our fleece jackets and our fleece vests and our fleecy Ugg boots, and let a little pale skin come out. We don’t even have any suntan lotion; thank God the Dollar Tree reopened yesterday. Our bodies do this weird thing we can’t identify until someone from somewhere else explains that it’s sweat. And my dog, poor Oregon Coast pup, is dragging around wishing she could take off her fur coat.
I remember well getting into my car in California and burning my hands on the steering wheel, walking into buildings just to feel the air conditioning, and getting a new pair of sandals every year. Around here, nobody has air conditioning. What for? All we can do is open a window. I’m used to lolling on my deck as much as possible, soaking up the sun, not hiding from it. I know it was only in the 80s. The temperature got up over 100 on a regular basis from June through September back in San Jose. Eighty was a nice day. It’s all relative. After 15 years, I’ve acclimated.
Anyway, it’s cloudy today. It dripped a couple drops of rain, and I’m hoping it will rain good and hard because it’s muggy, like Massachusetts in August, and I miss my fleece.
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On a slightly related note, Friday turned out to be a good day to take photos on the beach. We’re working on the cover for the paperback edition of my new book, Shoes Full of Sand (already available on Kindle, hint, hint) and I decided to take some more pictures. Here’s some of what I came up with. I’m sure people thought I was nuts taking pictures of sand and my own bare feet and my shoes. But hey, it’s Shoes—Full—of—Sand. And they were.