Happy Thanksgiving

Happy turkey day to everyone. It’s raining here, but not too hard. It’s cold, but not too cold. Being far from family, we hadn’t planned to make a big deal out of Thanksgiving. In fact, the plan was for me to go to church and then make enchiladas while the husband watched football all day. But my stepson surprised us by showing up yesterday. He was camping east of Sisters and got snowed out. Since we had a turkey in the freezer, he requested a traditional dinner, so the bird is in the oven, the pie is cooling, the Jello is made and it feels like a holiday now. I’ve been burning up the telephone lines calling people in California. They’re all having turkey dinners with other family members, so things are as they should be.

Church was nice this morning, just a small group in our old-fashioned brick sanctuary near the beach. This version of Sacred Heart Church was built in 1952, the year I was born. We all brought bags of food for the poor, and the sermon was about all the things we have to be grateful for. After Mass, Father Brian said he would be grateful if we’d take the 2008 hymnals out of their jackets and put in the 2009 books. We assembled a work party in the hall and were done in no time. That’s a small town for you. When there’s something to be done, we all join in.

My friend Georgia, who sings with me in the choir, was there in her baseball cap and no makeup. She’s got a nasty sinus infection and a cracking voice that sounds like a 13-year-old boy’s. When I stopped at the grocery store for yams and Cool Whip, she was pulling in. She picked up a bottle of wine, saying that was going to be her Thanksgiving dinner. Hey, whatever makes you feel good.

The store was full of people buying one bag worth of stuff, all the forgotten items somebody sent them out to get. While I was in line at the register, Michael the stepson called to request a lemon. I’m not sure what he’s going to do with it, but off I went for a lemon. Now he’s busy working magic with the yams.

Newport, OR is the county seat, with a population of approximately 10,000. The weather and lack of jobs keep us from growing much larger, but it’s the kind of place where you meet friends everywhere you go, and I like that. This week, the public works department wound lighted wreaths around all the light poles and strung lights around City Hall. It is so pretty at night. I’ll try to get a picture soon. Next Saturday the Nye Beach Christmas tree will be lit in front of Nana’s Bistro and I’ll join the wandering musicians visiting the local shops. Soon we will also have our lighted boat parade in Yaquina Bay and the Festival of Trees up at the Agate Beach Best Western. It’s a nice time to be here.

And our puppies, Chico and Annie, huge at nine months, are getting to sleep inside by the pellet stove, the light of the fire shining in their eyes, the scent of turkey wafting past their nostrils.

Happy Holidays.

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More Beaver lore


Yesterday at Rite Aid, they were selling a game called Beaveropoly, just like good old Monopoly, except the box was orange and the streets were football-related.

Not to leave out Oregon’s other big team, a lady in line at the pharmacy had on a bright Duck-yellow fleece jacket with a green University of Oregon logo. These people like their football.

I thought folks were nuts about the 49ers, back in the days when I could hear the game blaring from every apartment in the complex where I lived near San Francisco. Of course they were winning then.

I promised to find out why this is the Beaver State. I guessed right. The beaver, named state animal in 1969, was a big part of the early settlers’ economy. They trapped beavers for their thick brown fur. In fact, they trapped almost all of them, so the state had to start protecting beavers and they have come back. Oregon likes beavers so much, there’s a big yellow picture of one on the back of the state flag.You can find more interesting facts about this stuff at the Oregon the Beaver State web site.

Now here’s a good question, to which I don’t have the answer: Why was the kid in the old “Leave It to Beaver” show called Beaver? And what was his real name?

Watch out for those beavers and ducks

Last Saturday on my way to and from Beaverton, OR, where I joined other authors for a reading at Borders, I ran into the Beaver hordes in Corvallis. Orange shirts everywhere. Somehow my morning trip matched up perfectly with those about to attend the Oregon State football game. And then when I got onto I-5, the cars heading south wore a blend of Beaver orange and black and Ducks yellow and green. Flags waved from the cars as if they were all part of a presidential motorcade. Apparently the University of Oregon also had a game that day. I don’t follow Oregon college football so I had no idea. However, being married to a football fanatic from Southern California, I could tell you when USC was playing.

I came back through Corvallis right after the Beavers game ended. Picture cars lined up for miles, the exit to the coast blocked with orange cones, men in orange vests directing traffic through the intersections. I thought I’d never get home. The last lap is a dark, two-lane road along the Yaquina River. I had headlights in my rear-view mirror all the way to the coast from beer-fueled, truck-driving Beaver fans anxious to continue the celebration in Newport.

People around here are crazy for the Beavers and the Ducks. In two weeks, they play each other in the game known as the Civil War. I’m not going anywhere near the stadium that day.

One has to wonder about teams named for ducks and beavers. What happened to fierce animals and wild warriors? A duck? I always thought I’d like to be a duck. Not only are many pretty, but they can swim, walk and fly. But they just eat bugs, right?

As for beavers, I recently learned that they are rodents. What makes them rodents is that their teeth keep growing. They chew wood to keep them from getting too long. They make elaborate dams, live there a while, then move on. Like Californians.

Both teams have the ugliest uniforms. I guess you can only do so much with orange and black and green and yellow. Of course my college team, the San Jose State University Spartans, has beautiful blue and gold uniforms but are not usually big winners.

We have some interesting logos here. The Oregon State Beavers have a vicious-looking beaver with gigantic teeth, wild eyes and long hair blowing backwards. They also have an O linked with an S. The University of Oregon goes by just a stylized green O. That’s it; an O. Now of course both universities ignore the fact that other colleges exist whose names also start with an O. In Oregon, it’s Ducks and Beavers. Period.

It seems ironic that I was headed to Beaverton the day I got caught in the Beaver football traffic. I even heard a commercial talking about the Church of the Beaver. Say what?

Oregon is known as the Beaver State. I have never seen a live beaver, but the word is certainly everywhere. In fact, we have a Beaver Creek down the road from us. My husband Fred and I kayaked down it a couple years ago in driving rain. In August. Become one with the water, our guide said. Yeah, right. But that’s another story.

I’m going to have to do some research on why this state is so beaverlicious. I’m thinking it has something to do with the hunters who made their livings collecting the beavers’ lush pelts. Stay tuned.

And check the football schedule before you drive through Corvallis or Eugene on a Saturday in November.

I welcome your comments, corrections and education for this California transplant who still doesn’t get all the nuances of being an Oregonian. Enlighten me, please.

What’s a Califoregonian?

That’s what I am: a California native turned Oregonian. I have roots in both states, but after 44 years in the Golden State, I moved to the Beaver State, specifically the central Oregon coast near Newport. Many others have made the same move. In any gathering where I ask how many came from California, at least half the people raise their hands.

Well, you can take a woman out of California, but you can’t take California out of the woman. They say we change cells completely every seven years. Having been here 12 1/2 years, I should be completely Oregonian by now, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Except for a dear stepson who lives in Portland, my family is still in California, mostly in the Bay Area. I miss them terribly and have traveled back and forth far more times than I ever expected to do. But when I’m there, I miss Oregon. When I’m here, I miss California. I talked on the phone the other day to someone from San Francisco and thought, “Oh, San Francisco.” But I was in Portland last night and thought, “Oh, I love this place.” And I do. When my plane lands at PDX, I feel as if I can breathe again.

Why did we move here? Quality of life, lower cost of living, affordable homes near the beach, clean air, and no traffic. Also, we discovered, no nearby shopping malls, medical specialists, major airports or universities. Jobs are scarce. What we do have is weather, lots of it, tsunami warning signs all over the place, and gigantic slugs.

But I have not started this blog to complain about what the Oregon coast has or doesn’t have. It’s to share the discoveries I make here every day. That’s the exciting thing about exploring a new territory. I look forward to telling tales, publishing photos and perhaps offering an occasional poem.

I look forward to starting a new conversation with readers who will keep coming back to see what else I’ve discovered.