Shall we get this over with? I mean of course, you just can’t get enough of The Dropkick Murphys when it’s “…that time of year.”
* * *
Department Of Words Matter, Which Is Why We Use Them When We Argue
“We live in an age of overstatement and overpraise. Something isn’t merely good, it’s awesome. A movie or a TV show isn’t just enjoyable, it’s epic. Any performer over the age of thirty who manages to do good work isn’t just a solid professional, he or she is an icon.” ( Fresh Air Rock Critic Ken Tucker)
Moiself has been seeing the following cartoon shared several times (on Facebook), and it makes me want to tear someone’s hair out.  Let me edit it, I plead into the void, please oh please oh please:
The thing is, I like the cartoon and its sentiment that not all creatures have the same abilities, nor needs, nor environments; thus, to judge, say, a fish for its tree-climbing ability (fish live underwater and therefore cannot – and do not need to – climb trees) or critique squirrels (partly arboreal mammals which have no reason to swim) for its pathetic backstroke is unfair, even nonsensical.
Oh, but critique this, you cynic!
Stop. Do not be distracted by such foolishness.
Yep, I get the intention of the drawing, although I think the blanket criticism of Our Education System ® is unfair, as are most blanket statements (you know, like expecting all animals to climb trees).
But I’m wondering if the same person who drew the cartoon also wrote the caption? If so, I’d like to judge them on their underwater tree-climbing ability, because the hyperbolic sentence, “Everyone is a genius” is a real butt-froster.
If everybody has a certain trait or is a certain thing, that no longer makes the trait/thing exceptional. It negates the definition of genius (used here and in that comic, as a noun):
Definitions of genius
1 (noun) unusual mental ability
2 (noun) exceptional creative ability
3 (noun) so,meone who has exceptional intellectual ability and originality
4 (noun) someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field…. ( vocabulary.com )
Why was that sentence even included in the comic – what does the patently false/grossly mistaken declaration “Everybody is a genius”have to do with unequal consideration of different talents and abilities?
You can be very talented and intelligent and a hard worker, the top 10% of your high school class, and still not be a genius (don’t worry, there will be plenty of other hackneyed adjectives applied to you, most likely by your family, such as AMAZING!) It’s not all or nothing.
Your four-year-old nephew pounding out “Chopsticks” on his toy piano may be indicative of his interest in music,  but that doesn’t make him a genius. For a humbling comparison of true genius/exceptional ability, you may want to investigate the life of Mozart, one of the greatest (and most enduringly popular and influential) of classical composers, who began writing musical pieces when he was between the ages of 4-5 and who composed more than 600 works before his early death (age 35). Better yet, just listen to his overture to the opera, “The Marriage of Figaro.”
* * *
Department Of Would Someone Please Solve This Problem (And Do So Before I Get Too Much Older)?
“It’s time to get serious about a major redesign of life. Thirty years were added to average life expectancy in the 20th century, and rather than imagine the scores of ways we could use these years to improve quality of life, we tacked them all on at the end. Only old age got longer….
‘….as longevity surged, culture didn’t keep up.
‘…. (we are) living in cultures designed for lives half as long as the ones we have.
Retirements that span four decades are unattainable for most individuals and governments; education that ends in the early 20s is ill-suited for longer working lives; and social norms that dictate intergenerational responsibilities between parents and young children fail to address families that include four or five living generations.”
(excerpts from “We Need a Major Redesign of Life,” Laura L. Carstensen, professor of psychology, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, The Washington Post 11-29-19 )
Thank you in advance. And whatever your solution is, make sure it includes dancing.
It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.  Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?
* * *
May you be old experienced (or cool) enough to always be able
to identify this week’s Partridge; May you know the definitions of genius, awesome, amazing, and other superlatives,
and apply them judiciously and accordingly; May you remember that the solution to all problems should including dancing; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Or, he may just enjoy annoying the adults in his life.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
* Two Thumbs up: Liked it. * Two Hamster Thumbs Up : Loved it. * Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this. * Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe. * Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe. * All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up. * Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make. * Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.
There was the good,  and the bad, and the, We’ll see. Like the can my Aunt Gwen used to set out by the olive tray every Thanksgiving, it was….
* * *
Department Of How I Spent The Night Of The Election
*Not* watching the returns, but watching the movie, Dave. It’s one of my (and my daughter Belle’s) favorite political movies (yes, I do have movie categories, and political movies get a group of their own), with an appealing cast and a delightful (if admittedly goofy, far-fetched) plot and a hopeful ending…along with a heart-tugging performance by Sigourney Weaver as a determined, idealistic, and (understandably) bitterly lonely “First Lady.” 
* * *
Department Of Pipe Dreams
Dateline: a week ago Monday, after yoga class. Although it was too late for this (the next day’s) midterm election, I fantasized about organizing a nationwide demonstration – perhaps it should be called a presentation – outside of polling booths all over the nation. The presentation would consist of a bunch of yogis standing by the polls (or ballot return boxes, for those states who have early and/or mail-in voting) doing vrikshasana ( “Tree Pose”), and/or other yoga poses requiring balance and focus and radiating a sense of calm.
I figure at least one blustery couple on their way to the polls would pause, take a look, then turn to one another and say, “Oh, sweetie, let’s not vote for assholes this year.”
* * *
Department Of Who Does This, And Why
“The Mystery of the Cuckoo Bird Recycler has returned.”
It wasn’t the perfect analogy, but MH and son K understood what I meant.
Background #1: You may be familiar with the story of the cuckoo bird, which, as abrood parasite, lays its eggs in other bird’s nests.
Background #2: Wednesday is the trash and recycling pickup day in our ‘hood. When I return from my walk on Wednesday mornings, I check our glass recycling bin, which, along with the mixed recycling bin and our garbage can, we’ve set out for the morning pickup. I check the glass bin to make certain that it contains only recyclable glass jars and bottles…which may seem like a silly thing to do, since we put it out the night before and after years of doing this we know what items go where. But “we” are not the problem.
We’ve had a history of, every couple of months or so, finding items in the recycling bin that aren’t ours. Who cares, right, as long as the items will be going to recycling and are sorted appropriately? But they are not, and that’s the problem.
It should be obvious that this is *not* the plastic duck decoy recycling bin.
It may seem funny (or obsessive) to you – as it does to me – that moiself feels the need to check the recycling bin for FOREIGN OBJECTS. The thing is, Mystery Neighborhood Cuckoo Recycler ® has had a habit of putting items in the wrong bin. I first discovered this several years ago, after the recycling trucks and come and gone and our full glass recycling bin was still by the curb, with an Official Notice ® from the recycling service placed on top of it, informing us that they cannot take items improperly sorted…which means it will be another two weeks until they will pick up our glass recyclables bin. 
I was confused, until I looked under the Official Notice ® . Sure enough, there were several empty tin cans someone had dumped atop the glass bottles and jars. The glass recycling truck folks will not or cannot be bothered to simply take the cans out of the glass recycling bin and toss them in our mixed recycling bin. It would take maybe 10 seconds to accomplish that task…but, nope. “Not their job.” They do have the time to go back to the truck and get the you’ve been a naughty recycler form and leave it in our recycle bin.
There is a tremendous size and color discrepancy between the small, four-sided, no cover, bright red, glass-only bin and the ginormous, gray, covered, paper and plastics recycling cart. We’ve been doing this for years; we know which is which. Still, this thing – miscreant cans placed in our glass-only recycle bin, causing the recycling company to refuse to take our glass items – has happened several times. I know it wasn’t someone from our family who got the bins mixed up, as the cans have always been store brands from stores we don’t shop at and/or items we don’t use or buy.
The mystery cans stopped being dumped in our glass bin after I printed out a brightly colored form of my own, which read GLASS ONLY NO CANS and affixed it to our glass recycling bin. I’ve still been checking on a regular basis, which is why this week I discovered three wine bottles which were not ours , placed atop our recycle bin. At least the hitchhikers were in the correct bin this time.
I can imagine a neighbor thinking, for example, that they don’t have enough items to justify schlepping their bin at the curb this week so they’ll just add the odd wine bottle or pickle jar to ours. On the one hand, it’s no big deal. On the other hand… it just seems like they should ask us, ya know? 
* * *
Department Of Segue To Another Avian-Related Anecdote
No cuckoos that I could detect; nevertheless, I was charmed by the sight of this bird-covered light post, shrouded in the morning mist. I immediately thought of my Swenadian  friend, who is an ornithophobe. Coming upon something like this would be her Alfred Hitchcock nightmare come true. They’re waiting for you to walk by….
* * *
* * *
Department Of Words And Phrases I Hope Are Never Applied To Me
☼ “Bless her heart…”
☼ “She means well…”
☼ such an inspiration
☼ a national treasure
* * *
Department Of It’s Here
I’ve seen enough you-know-what decorations and merchandise in stores that I feel justified sharing my favorite song about the matter, the Dropkick Murphy’s deliciously subversive ode to the holidays:
* * *
Department Of The View From The Floor
Sometimes, someone joins me during my morning stretches.
* * *
Department Of , And My Response Would Be, “That Is What You’d Call It When They Finally Impeach #45, Aka The Tantrum Thrower-In-Chief.”
Dateline: Thursday am, I am exercising on one of those elliptical machines while listening to the podcast Serial, which, this season, is focusing on stories about the Cleveland criminal justice system. The episode I am listening to contains several mentions of when/why courts may try juveniles as adults, which causes MH to wonder aloud, “Do they ever try adults as juveniles?”
* * *
May someone join you during your après workout stretch; May #45 be tried as a juvenile, an adult, an irradiated alien….; May you prepare a “presentation” of your own for the next election; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Specifically, the GOP (Grumpy Old Pissants) losing the House majority.
Reality check re this write-a-novel-in-month jive. This is from the Authors Guild Bulletin Spring 2013, Along Publishers Row article: “Temperance Hasty-Gonzales (not the author’s real name) wrote a 50k novel in 30 days. Five years and 15 drafts later, the novel, he The Quick and the Dead (a real novel, but not written by TH-G), was published in February.
She wrote a novel in 30 days! Except that she didn’t. The very second sentence of the blurb reveals that she didn’t write a novel in 30 days, hello. She had some kind of first draft that was awful/incomplete enough, by her own description, that it took her FIVE YEARS and FIFTEEN DRAFTS to get into publishable form.
National Novel Writing Month. I smite the concept as well as the acronym: NaNoWriMo. It sounds as incomplete and shoddy, as baby-talk dribbly, as a novel “written” in a month is likely to be. But wait, there’s more. The author featured in the blurb goes on to say that she considered herself a perfectionist, and that NaNoWriMo forced her to ignore her incapacitating inner critic and keep going: “It forces us to lower our standards.”
Just what the literary world needs: lower standards.
Have an idea for a story? Don’t fall for trendy/”motivational” stunts. Take time, make time, invest time. Chances are you can get your final draft in two-three years rather than five. And, yes, the world is full of crappy novels that took much, much longer than 30 days to write (Atlas Shrugged, anyone?) Still. It doesn’t need any more. At any speed.
* * *
Less than one percent of the total published books released in a year get reviewed via a traditional book reviewing outlet; i.e., a reviewer hired and paid by a newspaper, journal, magazine, book review tabloid.  When my publisher forwarded the reviews for The Mighty Quinn, MH asked whether they were “good.” Knowing the stats, I reminded him that TMQ was ahead of the game  by even getting a review in the first place. It was gravy to me that the reviews were good – a quibble here and there, but mostly positive, and some downright glowing. Even so I had to force myself to read them, force myself to drum up interest, which I did by thinking of my publisher (Good for them; they’ll like this one.).
It was peculiar to me, comparable to having an out-of-body experience, looking at myself looking at the reviews. I knew what I’d written, how “good” I thought it was, and how good others whom I respect thought it was (enough to publish it, at least). When it comes to considering my own reviews or publicity, composure and perspective, plus a dose of humility, are my mantras (keeping in mind the sage advice of Golda Meir: Don’t be humble; you’re not that great.). If a negative review won’t rock my boat then why should I let a rave review rock my world?
I was updating a website posting and checked The Mighty Quinn’s links to the major online booksellers: Powell’s, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The Amazon page featured a new industry review, or at least one I hadn’t seen, and had put it as their lead review (one of the reasons  I’m going to steer readers toward Powell’s.) Although the reviewer had some bits of tepid praise, the same supporting characters described by other reviewers as “memorable” and “delightful” she dissed as “too cute” and “unnecessarily highlighted” (whatever that means). The same dialog and action she found “cumbersome” and “drab” are cited by other reviewers as “engaging” and “fast-moving.”
I see no reason to alter my long held if not entirely original philosophy re reviews, which I privately (well, up until now) I referred to as the Rectal Theory of Criticism:
Opinions are like assholes – everybody’s got one.
As for the worth and relevance of online consumer reviews, my suspicions re their validity and potential for abuse  have oft been confirmed, most recently by this creepy story. A vengeful merchant, peeved at a less-than-stellar review posted on yelp from a would-be client, googled client’s name, discovered client was a novelist, and took it from there: “When your book comes out on Amazon, I will personally make sure our entire staff reviews it in kind.” Bad Merchant went on to threaten the novelist by getting people to post a “deluge” of “scathing reviews” for the novelist’s upcoming book.
* * *
The Wisdom That Cometh With Age
Dateline, Monday afternoon. I’d was in downtown Hillsboro to mail a manuscript, enjoying the opportunity/excuse  to do an afternoon walk on a crunchy autumn day, kicking through the leaves carpeting the sidewalks. I rounded the street across from the Washington County Courthouse and fell in step behind two gotta-be-lawyers-to-dress-like-that-on-such-a-fine- day men walking side-by-side. Or, I could describe them as “two men walking abreast,” but that conjurs up too many memories of fifth grade droodles.
My pace was faster than theirs but there was no room to pass them, so I slowed down and checked them out from the only view I had. Both were of similar height and, from the rear view at least, attired almost identically, in tailored, expensive-looking, dark brown suits and white dress shirts and dark brown shoes. I noticed that the one on (my) left wore bad shoes. His shoe’s heels were very noticeably and unevenly worn down, toward the inside of the foot. So incongruous with the rest of his lawyer suit. Lawyer dude on the right had nice shiny shoes with no VHW (visible heel wear).
What an odd thing to notice. Still, it bothered me. I really, really wanted to say something to him, even as I was chiding myself for wanting to say something. As a public service announcement, of course. Hey buddy – your over-pronation is, like, to totally ruining your Serious Lawyer Look.
At the end of the block they both moved to the curb, pausing by a brown (yes!) car that I assumed belonged to one of them. I passed them. And said nothing
Calling all budding evolutionary biologists: I can’t remember the prompt, but I recently woke up with an interesting first morning thought  : How is it that omnivorous species came to “know” they were omnivorous? How did our hunter-gatherer ancestors get to the hunter part? Or bears, for that matter. Foraging through the meadow, by the stream, chewing on leafy greens and berries///who-what had the lightbulb moment: “Hey, I bet that leaping salmon/hopping rabbit is more caloric and nutrient-dense than these camas roots, plus, no cud-chewing aftertaste! Win-win!”
I posted that question on my FB page, and got many many hallow snarky speculations a few thoughtful responses and suppositions (okay, I got one). I’m still wondering.
* * *
“If you talked into your hair dryer and said you were communicating with something out there in the nether space, they’d put you away. But take away the hair dryer, and you’re praying.” –Sam Harris
Dear Lord, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket. 
November. Already. Like a pair of K-mart undies, the holiday season is creeping up on us. Let us note that which is to come. Back by popular demand, my favorite ode to the joys that are to come, courtesy of The Dropkick Murphys.
 Sadly, that’s what the publicity-review thing is: a game. With really scary rules.
 It’s way mo fun-ner to flaunt your devastating wit by writing snarky pans than heartfelt paeans.
 Unless it’s a particularly scathing review forwarded by friend/fellow author (and New York Review of Books reader) SCM, about an author we mutually loathe.
 And when people wish to inquire about such matters they often ask, “How is your book doing,” a seemingly innocuous, probably meant-to-be-supportive query, until I ask what they mean by that, and then they usually ask about sales figures, at which point I have to refrain myself from perkily chirping, “I’ve no idea – how many copies did YOU buy?”
 Aside from the fact that Powell’s is the grooviest bookstore in the world. And yes, I’ve visited them all.
Indeed, the season is upon us. If you need further evidence, let The Dropkick Murphys explain it to you.
Ah, but the season unfortunately includes you-know-what. I’ll get this rant out of the way.
Ban assault weapons! No, ban violent video games! No, it’s the combination of mental illness and access to weapons! At least have the discussion about gun violence! Discussion, schmussion – arm every sixth grader in America!
The enormity of the Sandy Hook tragedy is almost beyond comprehension. Our society, for a slopbucket-load of historical and social reasons (that moiself shall not address at this time), is increasingly called to make even a few baby steps toward comprehension…and consistently fails to do so. Instead, we end up lobbing verbal grenades at one another, occasionally pausing for a moment of silence at yet another memorial service for “the ____ victims” (insert latest shooting locale).
And then of course, there’s Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas guv, part-time Republican presidential candidate, ordained Baptist minister and Fox News (surprise!) blowhole. Huckabee is highly regarded in scholarly circles for…well, for nothing. Nothing, that is, that has ever leaked from his lips, although he does get credit for jettisoning something like 300 lbs several years ago. Recent pictorial evidence shows that much of his bulk is returning to the mothership, and his recent rhetoric evinces that most of it is settling between his ears.
In his latest self-servingspewfest exploiting a national catastrophe pronouncement, MH attributes the “violence in our schools” to what he describes as the systematic removal of religion from our schools. Oh, Mike, Mikey Mike, you Hucka-hucka burning…something. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the brain train isn’t coming.
I suppose it’s just a matter of time before the Huckster and other religious righties brainstorm knock their empty coconut noggins with the NRA and come up with a plan to place AR15-packin’ preachers in every classroom.
There has been much religious speechifying about the Sandy Hook shootings, to which my reaction is: ick, and ick again. But, it’s more than just ick-worthy. Many of us who are mythology-free find the public prayers/religious invocations that typically accompany such incidents to be almost as galling, and ultimately more perplexing, than the incidents themselves. The rhetoric and rituals are so ubiquitous, oft times it just seems like background noise or white sound, like the distant rat-a-tat-tatting of automatic weapons fire.
Okay. Perhaps another analogy might be more…appropriate? Perhaps not.
Of all the mumbo jumbo about “keeping the victims in our prayers,” “pray for the families of Sandy Hook,” “our prayers were answered when we found out ___ had survived the shooting…” most mind-bogglingly ridiculous to me is when the political talking heads called upon to Respond To This Tragedy ® end their statements with the seemingly obligatory – what is it, invocation? plea? command? suggestion? – “God bless America.”
I do think God Bless America, ala Keep me in your prayers/I’ll pray for you, is one of those phrases that, like much public god-talk, is almost always employed without the benefit of reasoned contemplation. It is used as a reactive response to certain situations – the intellectual/rhetorical equivalent of Gezundheit. But to those who would claim to employ GBA etc., in all sincerity, what are you thinking? I don’t expect an answer, but, really: What particular, magical word combination or incantation do you believe will appeal to your celestial, imaginary friend, whom you apparently believe “is watching over us” and has the ability to intervene in human affairs (to “bless” you) and who may, somehow, someday, do that, despite the fact that if said celestial being exists, on December 14 it was watching over a madman entering a grade school and then twiddling its divine thumbs while six year old children were being slaughtered?
Human beings – in the form of a sad/lonely/alienated/angry/deeply disturbed young man, with – God bless America! – access to high-powered firearms, carried out this vile act. Human beings in many forms – including the principal who died trying to thwart the gunman as he forced his way into the school, the teacher who hid her students in cabinets and cloakrooms but stayed visible to deter the gunman and told him her class had gone to the gym (after which he shot her, and moved on to another location), the teachers who risked their own lives guiding their students to safety, the emergency responders, the community who reached out to friends and strangers alike with generosity and compassion – human beings rushed in to help in whatever way they could.
* * *
Writing this week’s post from Southern California, I’m as close as I get to being a Foreign Correspondent.
Trust me, you do not want to spend several hours of your holiday-season birthday online, trying to book the last seat on a flight that leaves in less than 24 hours. But this is what you’ll find yourself doing if, after making a pre-birthday phone call to your elderly mother, you decide to do A Good Thing ® and surprise her  with a visit.
All together now: “What a gooooooood daughter.”
On second thought, hold your applause. I am hardly worthy of such magnanimous regard.
I had a (mostly) enjoyable childhood, growing up in Southern California, to which my increasingly furrowed, sun-blotched skin now attests. Still, I headed north as soon as I could. Although ’tis good to visit with the kinfolk, I get in somewhat of a funk when I travel to the Land O’ My Birth. There are a variety of reasons for this, some of which I may mention in a much later, much less sober post. For now, suffice to say I find the area to be crowded, grimy, desiccated.
As per the latter, considerate Oregonian that I am, I brought some precipitation with me. The mere hint of a light shower elicits the obligatory, “Oh, we need the rain!” from the locals. Out for a walk on Tuesday morning, I experienced a mild epiphany of sorts: I find SoCal almost tolerable in the rain. Even a moderate drizzle functions ala Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak – it serves as a mask or shield, temporarily veiling the area’s aridity, and…well…dirtiness. This place looks, feels and smells different (better) when it’s wet.
THE APOCALYSE IS NIGH, AND IT’S WEARING AN ELF HAT.
Oh, oh oh oh oh, before I forget – another story! Pick me, pick me!
As I returned to my mother’s house after my walk, I spied with my little eye a Hummer parked in her neighbor’s driveway. My self-righteous, what kind of person still has that gas-guzzlin’, manhood-mocking behemoth snort was diverted when I saw something that made me approach the vehicle for closer inspection. The Hummer’s armor was fortified by what appear to be an oversized pair of Mr. Spock ears…no, they’re…elf ears? Plus, an elf hat was wired to the Hummer’s grill.
Soooooooooooooo, I sez to moiself. Last night was not a fluke.
I’d notified older sister NLM (who lives ~ 15 miles from our mother) about my spur-of-the-moment visit, and she’d graciously offered to act as my airport shuttle transport. As was pre-arranged, I called her when my flight touched down Monday evening. “Look for the car with the antlers,” she said, as I was headed for the passenger loading zone. I stood outside the airport terminal, in the dark, repeating “What?” into my cell phone as she in turn repeated her auto antler identification spiel. Sure enough, a red Lexus with antlers attached to the passenger door windows and a red fuzzy nose wired to the front grill pulled over to the curbside in front of me.
“The grandkids love it,” she explained to me. “It’s Grandma’s Rudolph the Red Nosed….”
Well, of course it is.
* * *
But I digress. I was walking.
Walking around my mother’s neighborhood, I crossed the bridge over Santiago Creek (as usual, the “creek” bed was totally dry, even after the rain), to do The Loop. The Loop is a secluded residential circle, composed of two of the nicer (read: most expensive houses) streets in the city. It’s been several years since I’d walked the Loop, but little seemed to have changed. The house’s front yards were, as always, buzz-cut short and impeccably manicured (do lawns have cuticles?). Leaving the loop via the bridge, I walked up and down a series of streets which had apparently been visited by one of those Neighborhood Holiday Beautification Czars, who had intimidatedthreatenedextorted convinced each household to participate en bloc. Every one of the curbside sycamore trees on Ladidah Lane had green plastic wreaths wired to their trunks. I rounded the corner to Decorous Drive, where every curbside pepper tree had oversized, red felt gift bows wired to their trunks. The next street over had multi-faceted, red and green, mini disco glitter ball-style jingle bells affixed to red, green and white ribbons which were…wait for it…wired around the trunks of every house’s curbside Icky tree.
Just as I was starting to get creeped out by the uniformity of the arboreal embellishment I received a text from Belle: Goooood morning!! And by the way – it’s snowing!!
Snow is a rare and generally appreciated weather wonder in the Portland metro area. I phoned my daughter, anticipating the delight I would bring to an old woman when I returned to my mother’s house with the news that it was snowing in Hillsboro and Belle had a day off from school…except that a somewhat disappointed Belle told me that it was a light dusting of snow and school had not been cancelled.
My mother, who spent the first 18 winters in Northern Minnesota, has a kneejerk response whenever I share news of what typically happens after a snowfall in Hillsboro. She trots out a litany of scornful clichés concerning the wimposity of those who let half an inch of snow close the schools and paralyze the freeways and major roads of a major metropolitan area. Every time she launches into her spiel my knee jerks in response, and I trot out my Litany of Justification (LOJ):
a. Unlike Minnesota, snow is not a regular/seasonal occurrence in the major metro areas west of the Cascades Range (Portland & Seattle).
b. Because of (a), the cities and towns of said NW metro areas cannot justify the expense of having and maintaining fleets of snow removal equipment.
c. Due to the geography/altitude and other climatological conditions that make (a) our default winter weather, it is not consistently cold enough in the Portland Metro Area to maintain snow, as snow, on those rare times when it indeed does fall. It will typically either rain a bit after a snowfall, or warm up enough to cause a brief melt, the temps drop overnight…
d. and we wake up to ice. Not fluffy powdery, stomp-worthy snow, but a slick, traction-resistant, accident-causing, coating of ice. Over everything.
And every time I do this my mother reacts to my LOFJ as if hearing it for the first time, and concedes the points I make in our area’s defense. The next time we participate in this ritual I should mention the upside to (d), which is that the phenomena of a thin but determined coating of ice makes for jolly entertainment for so many of us wimpy Pacific NWers. We cup our hands around a warm, foo-foo beverage of choice, huddle by our TVs, and enjoy the petty, smug pleasure that can only be found by watching the local news channels air footage of the idiot hapless drivers whose vehicles are spinning out and sliding down the hills on The Sunset Highway and other major roads leading in and out of Portland.
* * *
Dateline: just about now. Back up in Oregon. I counted at least seven more variations of the Rudolph/Santa’s elf – decorated vehicles while I was in So Cal. I’ve yet to see one up here. Maybe I just need to get out more?
Happy Holidays nd Thanks for stopping by.
 Rhymes with Fuckatree; how portentous is that? Must be a sign from a god.
 For American politicians, lest they be perceived as commie/atheist/homo-loving/socialist/Kenyanappeasers.
 Many of whom, if they came from religious families, were likely calling out to their god(s) to save them even as they were being gunned down.
 and your husband, and children, and Mastercard balance
 Or just living. The “growing up” part is still up for debate.
 Waaay too much time spent at the beach. Before the concept of SPF.
 A years-ago trip to see my folks, our plane descends toward the Orange County airport, K and Belle have their noses pressed against the windows, their eyes widening in alarm: “What’s that brown stuff we’re flying through?” K asks. “Down here, they call it ‘air,'” I explain.
 Although it’s obvious they resent the need, or any interruption to their cloud-free, brown/blue skies.
 Nothing says overcompensation (read: I have a small penis) like an oversized vehicle. ..or firing guns at a group of children — make that firing guns at anyone, any thing. Except a block of wood.
 Mea culpa, botanists – no fauna is in fact “icky.” Since I can’t remember the name/genus of these trees whose prolific, tiny, elliptical leaves are shed year-round, I resort to the moniker bestowed upon them by my Aunt Erva (“they make such an icky mess all over the sidewalks.”)
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.