#215–To Sir with love . . .

 

This blog post proves the old adage, “Dogs have masters, cats have staff!” Sir Groucho is an indoor cat with a well-trained staff of one—me. I’ve listed several examples that will leave no doubt.

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Sir Groucho lives up to his name in this photo.

These blinds have specific settings

You can spot the house. It’s the one with the blinds raised just high enough for Sir Groucho to see out easily from the skinny window by the door, and raised just so on the middle window in the living room. This is where he looks out from a small table.

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Sir Groucho is master of all he surveys, as he sits atop the “cat palace.”

Cat palace

This large piece of furniture sits smack dab in front of the sliding glass door in the dining room—blocking the best view in the house. I bought the cat palace to keep Sir Groucho from jumping on the dining room table and kitchen counter. He took right away to the climbing aspects, the scratching post, and sleeping in the box on top. But he ignored the two-story cat house with the hole in the roof for climbing in and out . . . until this past year. Don’t know why, but after five years, he finally discovered it. Of course, the cat palace didn’t keep him off of anything. He simply used it to launch onto the kitchen counter.

 

 

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The portable cat steps solved Sir Groucho’s problem, but created problems for me.

Portable steps both solve and create problems

I spend a lot of time in my office, which doubles as a guest room. So when I put cat steps in there to make it easier for Sir G to get to the top of the cabinet, it greatly inconvenienced me. He used to jump from the chair I sit at to get to the top of the cabinet, but when he fell a second time, I got out the cat steps. I had them stored in the garage. They had been used for my previous cat, Jetson, when he needed help getting up on the bed at night in his last couple of years. When I put them in my office, Sir G just ran right up them. No problem. Only thing, I could no longer use the futon couch to sit on, and it made it impossible to get to my bookcase without moving them every time. And when I had company, they were in the way big time.

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Sir Groucho loves being up high.

Five-story cat tower

Impulse buys are not always the best buys, but this was the exception. When I saw a tall skinny climbing tower for cats at Mini Pet Mart a couple of weeks ago, I came back the next morning with bungee cords. I got most of it in my trunk and anchored it to the trunk lid with the bungees and got it home.

 

 

 

 

 

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He enjoys sitting at every level.

I got it upstairs with the help of my stair lift and set it up in my office. Then introduced it to Sir Groucho. He took to it cautiously, but by the next day was making his way to the top and back down in record time. He loves it. And the cat steps are back in the garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He even enjoys the bottom level.

 

 

Water bowl saga

Groucho used to drag his water bowl all over the kitchen splashing water everywhere. Then he received a heavy ceramic bowl with a low center of gravity, which he didn’t move for about a year. Then when he started moving it, I placed it within a rimmed cookie sheet. That worked for a couple of years before he started splashing water all over. Now, he uses one of the sinks in the master bedroom bath, which I fill with fresh water each morning. Good thing I have two sinks. At the moment, it works just fine and no more problems with the other water dish.

Feed me, feed me

While I have three meals a day, Sir G gets fed five times a day. This is down from the 11 times a day I fed him when I first rescued the scrawny, bedraggled creature that trusted no one, I did get it down to twice a day for most of the past eight years. But things changed a few months ago, when I realized that he had become quite skinny. His weight had gone down from a high of 11+ pounds to just under 9. So I started to feed him more often to fatten him up. It has worked. He is at about 10 pounds, which is perfect. He looks good and under his long fur, I can feel he’s put on weight. But I’ve created a monster; every time I walk into the kitchen, he lets out a terrible, loud wail. You’d think I never fed him. And if I try to sleep in, he’ll knock cups into the sink or knock other stuff off the counter, creating quite a racket. This, of course, gets me up. He simply wants to be fed!

Brushing can be dangerous

He loves being brushed and will sit patiently while I brush him and then comb him with a steel comb that used to belong to my Standard Poodle (haven’t told him about that). If I am really fast in flipping him over to do his underside, I brush and comb him there too. Once it sinks in that he’s on his back, he turns into a snarly, growly monster that would rake me with his claws and sink his teeth into me. That happened once, in a totally different situation, when I hadn’t had him too long. I won’t risk it happening again. So I move quickly and keep my face as far away as possible.

Cutting invisible toenails

He turns into that same unfriendly monster when I try to cut his toenails. Since he has long white fur on his feet that hides his toenails, I have trouble just trying to find them—let alone cutting them. So I go to the vet every month and have them trimmed. It’s well worth the cost.

Constant companion

Wherever I’m in the house, he’ll be nearby. He simply doesn’t allow me to become lonely. He also has an opinion about everything, and, of course, I respond. Whenever I sit, he wants on my lap. And he gets his way except at mealtime. If I’m not sitting, he’ll often get in front of me when I’m walking down the hall or busy in the kitchen and flop onto his side. This means “pet me . . . now!”

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He loves to peek around the corner at me.

Still playful

After he eats, he likes to play with his toys. He’ll often dash around chasing balls, and then hit one towards me. He loves it when I return it. Which means I run all over the place, and he stays put. He also peeks at me from around a corner. When I chase after him, he dashes away and a game of hide and seek ensues. And every evening he chases the shadow of and the actual rope I have attached to the bedroom closet door when I swing it in his direction. He bats at and hits it with either paw. He will charge it and back off and keeps letting me know how he wants to change up the game. He gets so excited, he’ll snort and gnash his teeth. No matter how tired I may be, we have this playtime. When I see him sitting expectantly in the closet, I never have the heart to say no.

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Sir Groucho usually takes up a fair amount of space. Good thing it’s a king-size bed.

Bedtime

It’s a good thing I have a king-size bed because he’ll often take up one side, lying sideways or diagonally. If I wake up and find myself on the edge, I simply get up and walk around to the other side. At least once during the night, he’ll come close and lick my cheek or touch nose to nose, while purring. He likes this together time, and when he’s had enough, the purring stops and he moves down by my feet or to the crook of my legs.

I can’t imagine living without him, but he is becoming older—somewhere between 14 and 17 according to the vet. So I’ll cherish each day.

 

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Posted in Colorful Animals I Have Known, Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

#214–Mighty big waves . . .

 

More than once during the year, we get mighty big waves. That’s especially true in December and January. These are usually caused by storms out at sea that generate large swells that create larger than normal waves. And sometimes they are colossal.

The absolute best spot on the entire Oregon Coast to see these waves is Shore Acres State Park. Sometimes they splash 100-feet high against the rocky bluff. And, yes, you have to stand back or you will be splashed with seawater and possibly washed out to sea.

Every year a few folks meet this fate—not necessarily at Shore Acres but at various places along the coast. And every year the Oregon State Parks, Oregon Coast magazine, and radio and TV stations do their part in warning people.

I heard on the radio on January 19 that the waves were expected to splash up to 60-feet high in some places. Well, I couldn’t get down to Shore Acres that day or the next. For me, that’s a three-hour round trip. So on Sunday, the swells were still going to be strong with high waves predicted, so I headed for Yachats. That’s a much quicker half-hour drive.

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The village of Yachats is in the distance, and this photo is taken from the scenic drive just south of town on a normal day  at low tide with no high wave action.

The waves would not be as high as Shore Acres, but I would be able to sit in my car and watch and take photos. I often stop by the scenic drive just south of town. It’s one of my favorite spots along the coast. I think it’s called Ocean Drive, the name has changed in recent years. It’s a loop drive that connects with Hwy 101 just as you enter Yachats from the south and the other end connects back to 101 just before the bridge across the Yachats River.So I got out my tide table, set for Yaquina Bay, and guesstimated when the high tide would be in Yachats. On this particular day, it would be shortly before 3 p.m. So I planned to arrive about 2:30 p.m.

The weather report for the day was stormy weather with 50 mph winds and big waves. What we actually got was a gentle breeze, no rain, and sun and clouds. What storm? This was nicer than many summer afternoons, when the wind at the beach makes you feel like you’re being sandblasted.

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The waves were ferocious and the gulls hunkered down, taking it all in stride.

On the drive between Florence and Yachats, I could see that the waves were big. There were lots of folks at Cooks Chasm at Cape Perpetua as I went by, but only a couple of cars where I was going. I parked so that I could see both north and south. The waves here were really big and the sea frothy all the way out beyond the breakers. Very exciting! The gulls were hunkered down, taking it in stride. Lots of waves sent out huge sprays as they hit the rocks. Not 60-feet high, but still impressive. Of course on those, I was always just a tad too late with my camera.

I timed it right as far as arrival time. As the waves broke closer and closer, it became more and more exciting. This lasted for about a half hour. Then high tide peaked, and the intensity slacked off. I’m always surprised at how quickly waves recede after high tide.

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I loved this shot of the lone gull resting on one leg, while the ocean churned all around.

Also, as the waves got larger and larger, more and more cars appeared. By the time I left, not many place were left to park.

On my way home, there were some empty spaces at Cooks Chasm, so I pulled in. Here you have to get out of your car to see anything. So I got out and looked over the wall. I noticed lots of nice wave action, but I had two spots I wanted to check out. From here, I could see Thor’s Well, and it was at its best. This round configuration appears as though the water all the way around is emptying through a hole in the ocean. It’s fascinating and great fun to watch. The other spot is the spouting horn. I walked over to the actual chasm, and it was doing its thing. Clearly high tide had passed; I’d seen it shoot much higher in the past. Still it’s always fun to see a big wave coming in and to watch for the spouting horn to appear.

I headed home very glad that I’d made the effort to enjoy the high waves. After all, this is one of the reasons that living at the coast is so special.

Posted in Adventures with travel, Coastal town profiles where books are marketed, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

#213–Resuming weekly posts . . .

 

It was so gratifying to have many of you click onto my blog last week when I resumed posting after a six-month pause. My last post had been in August. I had no idea it would be so long before I did another.

My life just got busier than usual this past fall. I put my blog on hold as well as my latest book. The reason was my mom’s health and eventual passing. During August and early September were lots of phone calls to my sister to keep me in the loop, provide her support, and to help in making decisions. Then I flew down mid-September for a few days for a last visit with Mom. Then back to do two bridge tours up and down the coast and the final almost daily stuff involved with the Florence Festival of Books, which was held on September 30. On October 1, my mom died. And on October 3, I had a presentation on bridges at Salishan.

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Jean Wilson at 100. She lived in her own home until just past her 105th birthday.

On October 7, I drove to California and was gone nearly a month. My brother, sister, and I were able to go through nearly everything in the house and to have the house appraised and put on the market. And we arranged for an estate sale after we were through sorting and removing everything each of us wanted. What took the longest was going through the dozen or so photo albums. We also got everything else taken care of involving lawyers and financial folks.

I came home with my car totally filled with stuff. My dad passed away in 2010 and most of his stuff was still in the house. So I took everything that had to do with his time in the service in Hawaii and aboard the USS Oklahoma just prior to World War II. It was a couple of boxes, including a scrapbook and album. Most of it, I donated to the new Military Museum here in Florence. They have the book I put together of my parents’ remembrances of their most interesting years. For my mom, it was her time in Honolulu before, during, and after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Those were exciting times, and I was born right in the middle of it.

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My brother, Harry, and sister, Edna, looking through albums.

I was only home about a month before heading back to California for the holidays. It was our first Christmas without Mom. I was glad that I went, despite the frustrating drive down 101. It was good that we were together. We continued looking through albums.

So now I’m back home and plan to do the blog weekly. Some posts will be about my adventures with books, others about life in general, and occasionally about my health. Speaking of my health, one leg continues to be a problem as well as occasional aches and pains elsewhere. I’m definitely not a fan of growing old—but I like the alternative even less.

As to my books . . .

I fit in two bridge tours through the college the last week of September. Those were great with no rain to worry about. The buses were full of folks anxious to know about the bridges. I had a good time; I got to blather on and on about the bridges to a captive audience and was paid for it. What’s not to like!

 

I did well at the Florence Festival of Books the last weekend in September, and the event was a big success once again. As the co-founder, co-chair, and secretary, I’m thrilled at the success of this event. This year was the 7th Annual, and the event will continue on and on. So mark your calendar for September 29, 2018.

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Jane Kirkpatrick, one of Oregon’s most popular authors, was our keynoter two years ago. This year she signed up for a table. We were thrilled!

Those of us who have participated in the Victorian Belles Holiday Show previously with our books were invited back for the 7th year. Connie Bradley, Karen Nichols, and I were together there once again and joined by Russ Dixon, a wood turner whose work is at Backstreet Gallery and has written his first book. The Holiday Show is a bit of a marathon, since it lasts three days. But we all sold several books. And I always find wonderful Christmas gifts.

I’ve also done a few presentations. The latest one was last week in Eugene at a very nice assisted living facility—Waterford Grand. The small theater could hold about 30 and there were about 15 in attendance. Since they had a great projection system, I just needed to hook up my laptop. I could keep it at the podium and click when I was ready—not have to signal someone. I have 70 photos with this particular program—so lots of clicking. The clicker for my projector has never worked, so I usually rely on a volunteer from the audience. This group was wonderful with great questions, and I sold a few books. All in all a good experience.

All but one of my previous presentations at assisted living facilities were not as planned. (Check out blog post #136–Budgets & old folks require flexibility . . .) And at the last one I did in Junction City, a gentleman coming in just as I was starting tripped over the rug over the cords and everything went black. And I couldn’t get it going again. So I simply passed out my smaller bridge book, The Crossings Guide, and was glad of my first grade teacher’s training. “Will everyone turn to page 9.” And so on. They loved having their very own book with which to follow along.

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I  squeezed in a presentation to the Oregon Coast Learning Institute at Salishan on October 3–quite a large group. This presentation went according to plan and the group had marvelous questions. They also bought lots of books!

I continue to be involved in Backstreet Gallery with my books. In March, I’ll be one of two featured artists. So if you get a chance, try to pop in Saturday, March 10, 3 to 5 p.m. at a reception where I’ll be honored.

That brings me to my new book. I did the research last spring for The Oregon Coast Guide to the Unexpected: that which is strange, unusual, or quirky. And I have completed the writing for 13 of the 27 locales that I’ll be covering. Tomorrow, I start on number 14. I hope to get all the writing done before I head to California in April. When I return, I’ll need to fact check and get photos lined up before it goes to the publisher

Even though my mom is gone, the rest of my family is still in California and so are the friends that I enjoy visiting. So I’ll continue to drive there in April and during the holidays, but not in October any more. From now on, it’ll be two trips a year instead of three.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful 2018!

Posted in Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, Judy's Book Adventures, Marketing through book fairs, Marketing without Amazon or a distributor, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

#212––Holiday travel––who knew! . . .

 

At Christmas, I almost always fly to California to be with family. I fly because the weather can be bad in the winter. It’s almost a given that I-5 will have snow or at least icy conditions going over Siskiyou Summit near the state line and that anywhere between Roseburg and Redding (more than 200 miles of the trip) can have similar conditions. And then there’s the infamous Tule fog in the San Joaquin Valley in winter and this year freezing fog in December in the Willamette Valley.

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Here is my family that I visit each year––sister-in-law, brother, sister, and nephew–– all together at Christmas.  It was our first year without Mom. She passed away Oct 1, 2017, at 105 years old.

But this year, I would be driving instead of flying, I decided to take Hwy 101 instead of I-5. Hwy 101 doesn’t usually have as much traffic, the speeds are slower, and it’s more scenic. And besides my first stop was Palo Alto in the Bay Area—a straight line south from Florence.

That may have been the sensible, reasonable thing to do, but this year, it was the wrong thing to do. Going down Hwy 101 the weekend before Christmas weekend was a nightmare. Coming back on I-5 on New Year’s weekend was a dream. Who knew!

Nightmare Drive

I didn’t get away as soon as I had hoped on Saturday, December 16. Instead of leaving at 9 a.m., it was 1:30 p.m. Since I don’t like to drive after dark on long trips and it gets dark early in mid-December, I only got as far as Brookings. That day had been easy driving—good weather, light traffic, no problems.

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Beautiful sunset between Gold Beach and Brookings. The next day was when the nightmare drive began.

Sunday was definitely different. As soon as I left Crescent City, I hit a headland that had started sloughing off. So major roadwork was under way and only one lane of traffic available for both directions. A signal controlled traffic. This happened over and over at numerous headlands with 10- to 20-minute waits at each one

Then there was a horrendous accident, involving a semi-truck. A large tow truck was trying to maneuver it back onto the highway and took both lanes. The traffic was routed off the road onto soft dirt one car at a time. When it was my turn, I crept around a really narrow spot with the fireman urging me on. All large vehicles had been stopped before getting to this point. I really thought I was going to go over the edge to the ocean below. Scary! That slowed the trip by at least a half hour.

It was a beautiful sunny day, which also meant that the deep shadows were pitch black—no visibility when heading into them from the bright sunlight. So it was slow going all through the redwoods—beautiful but slow.

Then the scariest moment happened when I went around a curve and about 50 elk were in the road—totally blocking traffic. I skidded to a halt about 12 feet from a large bull elk with his head down and a head full of antlers ready to do battle. It was at least 20 minutes before a car could maneuver around them.

I was glad when the road turned into a four-lane freeway. As we got closer to San Francisco, though, the traffic became heavier and heavier. People must have been out enjoying the sunny day or doing their Christmas shopping. It seemed like everyone was heading back to the city.

It was gorgeous crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, but I had to keep my eyes on the traffic. It was solid and becoming dusk. There are no freeways through San Francisco—only surface streets. I know to stay in the right-hand lanes coming off the Golden Gate, because they become 19th street. That takes you through the city and sweeps you right onto Hwy 280, which goes by Palo Alto.

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Teeta, my long-time friend, who lives in Palo Alto, was glad to finally see me.

Because of the heavy traffic and many traffic signals, my top speed getting through San Francisco was 8 to 10 mph. So it was totally dark by the time I got onto 280. And by the time I got to Palo Alto, I was exhausted. I had left Brookings at 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Palo Alto at 5 p.m.––about three hours longer than normal.

Dream Trip Home

I left Northridge in the LA area about 9 a.m. on December 30, a Saturday morning. Once I was on the 405 freeway heading north, the traffic became heavy but for only about 12 miles. As I got closer to the Grapevine, it thinned out. The weather was fabulous, sunny in the 60s and clear. The light traffic, except for between Stockton and Sacramento, and the great weather lasted all the way to Williams north of Sacramento where I spent the night.

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After spending Christmas with my family in Bakersfield, I headed to LA area to visit my friend, Theresa.

The next day, it was also sunny and clear with temps cooler but still mild. It was that way even from Redding to Roseburg no icy spots or snow on or along the road. The only snow was on higher mountains. And the traffic remained light. I couldn’t believe my good luck, even though I had checked the weather sites online before taking I-5. After my nightmare trip south on 101, I just didn’t want to take it back home.

When I left I-5 at Sutherland and headed over the mountains to the coast, it was still pleasant. I only hit rain when heading into Reedsport, and it was very light. I arrived in Florence about 5 p.m. just as it was getting dark. I stocked up at Freddies before heading home and was in the house with all my stuff by 7 p.m. I’m usually beat when I get home, but because the ride home had been so easy, I wasn’t even tired. Who knew!

Note: I don’t recommend traveling long distances in winter alone even with a new car, but when it seems necessary, here’s my advice. Days before leaving, check online for weather and road conditions for the route planned. I always carry food and plenty of water. And I always have my sleeping bag, plenty of blankets, and other safety items in the trunk. To ward off sleepiness, I listen to audio books and always stop for a large coffee after being on the road a couple of hours. I also stop often at rest stops and walk. I also recommend not driving after dark in winter and to keep an eye on the gas gage. Hour after hour can really eat up the gas.

Posted in Adventures with travel, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

#211–Simple solutions . . .

 

NEW CAR

When I had my new car only a week, I heard such loud noises coming from it, I was convinced it had a major problem.

It had been a very hot day over in the valley, so there were lots of people here at the coast. It was a Saturday and warm here too, and I was on duty at Backstreet Gallery. When I got to my car, it was very warm inside. So I put all the windows down before turning on the air. Later, I closed the windows. It took forever to get out of town and then traffic was slow going. Which is why I didn’t realize I had a problem.

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After only a week, I heard such loud noises that I thought it was a major problem.

I had the radio on and noticed that the beat of the music was getting louder and louder. I turned off the radio, but the beat played on. It was the car not the radio. At first, I thought I had blown a tire. Since I was almost at my turn at Mercer Lake Road, I slowed. The sound lessened, and I pulled over and stopped at Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside. I checked everything I could think of: tires were fine, didn’t see anything dragging underneath, the car hadn’t been shimmying, no hot or smoke smells. Hmm! So I got back in, started it up, and everything seemed normal, but as soon as I got about 35 mph or so, the noise started again. So I kept speed down and continued the last couple miles home. Everything sounded fine as long as I kept the speed down.

When I bought the car, I signed up for 100.000 miles of roadside assistance to tow to nearest Toyota dealer and many problems to be taken care of at no additional cost. So I called and explained problem. She said that since I was home, to call the dealership and see what they wanted me to do. So I called the dealership. It was late on Saturday afternoon and no one available to talk to me, so receptionist said she would leave message to call me. About an hour and half later I called again and told her the whole problem, She said everyone had gone home and to call about 7 a.m. on Monday morning when the service department opened.

I was not about to drive the car, since I didn’t know what the problem was or how serious. The good news was that I didn’t have to be anywhere for a few days and had plenty of food on hand.

I did wonder if my car had to be towed to Eugene, should I or would I be able to ride over with the tow-truck driver? I at least could rent a car easier in Eugene than in Florence if necessary. I was becoming very stressed. This is why I got a new car, so I wouldn’t have to face such problems. AARRGGHH!

Three days later

As it turned out, I drove along with the tow truck driver to the Kendal dealership in Eugene. (I loved the name–Stealth Towing and Recovery–out of Eugene.) It was embarrassing to have all my neighbors see my brand new car being towed away.

When we got there, I gave them a written account of everything. Then the car was taken for a drive to try to replicate the noise I had heard. The gal doing the test drive, heard nothing and couldn’t find anything wrong.. She came back and talked it over with one of her technicians. He reread my written account. He paid particular attention to where I said that I noticed the back seat passenger window open the next morning, so I had closed it.

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The back window goes down all the way.

He suggested she open that window all the way and take the car out again. So she did. About 30 mph she got the noise I had described. It became almost unbearably loud as the speed increased, but died down when the speed got below 30—just like I had described. So she came in with a big grin and told me she wanted to take me for a ride. When I heard the noise, I told her, “That’s it!”

So the solution was to close the damn window. As simple as that! I was so relieved. I couldn’t stop smiling and after giving her a hug, I told her to give the technician one too.  I had no clue what the problem could have been. Wind dynamics was not on my wave length. She explained to me that would not have been a problem with my old Camry. Also, in my new car, the back window goes ALL the way down and did not in my old one. So it’s more difficult to see that the window is open in the new car.

I drove my car back to Florence with no problems. I stopped at the FEC to pick up photocopies of the latest Florence Festival of Books applications and talked to Kevin Rhodes, the Director there. He said that he gets a strange noise in his SUV when he has one of the rear windows down all the way. So he was not surprised.

 

NEW TV

Near the end of July, I spent a few evenings listening to CDs because my TV––my new TV that is only two months old––apparently died. I put new batteries in the remote, replugged three plugs that I thought had to do with the TV into a new power strip with a light indicating power. Then I called Customer Service. First clue that I might not be the only person with a problem with this particular type of TV was the message. “If you have a 4K from Walmart, presst 1; if you have a 4K from any other source, press 2.” It took a minute to realize that my 4000 series was most likely the 4K in the message.

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My new TV was wonderful until one day when it just quit.

I talked to the customer service person and she had me press the power button on the back of the TV. And nothing. So since I had already done her other suggestions, she gave me a reference number and told me to take photos of my proof of purchase, the front of the TV, and the info on a plate in the back and gave me an email to send it to. So I did. I couldn’t find any receipt. Geez! I have receipts for everything else I’ve ever bought. I ransacked the house, but still couldn’t find it. So I took photos of my check register with a check to Bi-Mart with its notation for a TV. And a photocopy of the actual check to Bi-Mart. So we’ll see what happens.

Three days later

Before I heard back, I solved the problem. When I had replugged in what I thought were all the TV and cable box plugs (3) into a new power strip, there was already something plugged into in. I thought that one was the phone or the fax machine because they were closer to where it had been sitting. I just knew it had nothing to do with the new TV.

When I was unplugging the TV to move it off the counter and to put it back into it’s original box, I noticed that plug in the power strip that I had never checked and saw that it was only partially plugged in. As I plugged it in all the way, a lightbulb went off over my head. Hmm! Could it be? So I replugged everything back into the TV and pushed the “on” button on the TV and, lo and behold, it came on. Could have knocked me over with a feather.

I tried the remote, but it still didn’t work. So I took out the new Duracell batteries. I dug through the garbage under the sink and in the very bottom among the coffee grounds, I found the old remote batteries (a brand I’d never heard of). I cleaned them off and put them back in. It worked fine. Go figure!

So plugging the damn plug in all the way solved the problem of the new TV. Such a simple solution! It ranks right up there along with closing the window to solve my car noise problem. I’m beginning to feel r-e-a-l-l-y stupid!

 

BOOK COVER

My book Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known doesn’t sell in bookstores. It took me awhile, but I finally figured out why. I broke a cardinal rule of non-fiction book covers—“The title or subtitle must tell what the book is about.” I only had a title, no subtitle, and my title didn’t really tell what the book was about. So I was considering redesigning the dust jacket cover. Fortunately, this book is a hard cover with a dust jacket, and I can do that. But first, i wanted to try a cheaper, simpler alternative––stickers!. I came up with this in the middle of the night, I could design a subtitle telling what the book is about, put it on a sticker, which I could then slap on each book.

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My new sticker for Devil Cat.

So I went online and found a site where I could create any kind of sticker I wanted. I designed an oval, soft yellow sticker to match the yellow in the word “colorful” in the title. The words are a black easy to read font and say “Five stories about RESCUE ANIMALS that became great pets . . . eventually!” That’s what the book is about! Then I ordered 1,000.

Four days later

They arrived in the mail and turned out exactly as I had hoped. They are all separate with peel-off backing. There was no good place to stick them on the books. Since I don’t want to cover the title or the picture, I put them right over my name and it looks okay.

I put some on the books at Backstreet about nine days ago, and I’ve sold seven copies of Devil Cat since then. That’s about as many as I’ve sold there all year. It seems to be working! Just another simple solution!

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Devil Cat with its new sticker!

I also gave a copy with new sticker to the gals at Mari’s Books in Yachats. No charge–– just to see what they think and to see if it sells any better. They sell lots of my bridge books. But they had no luck selling Devil Cat, so I bought back the copies I had sold them.

I felt so stupid on the car and the TV, but also relieved that they were “fixed” so easily. And I should have put a subtitle on my Devil Cat book cover, but I didn’t. So I hope the simple solution of stickers “fixes” the problem and sales increase.

 

 

 

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#210–Happiness is . . .

 

I ran across a photo of me reading a class “book” (student’s large papers connected together) to my first graders of what made them happy. Each started with Happiness is. . . . It was modeled after Charles M. Schultz’s children’s book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, which I read to the class before having them do their own. One of my favorites was Linus saying.”Happiness is a thumb and a blanket.” I always enjoyed seeing that happiness was different for each child.

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Many, many years ago, when I was teaching first graders.

So it got me thinking about what makes me happy nowadays. After some pondering, here’s what I’ve come up with.

First of all, happiness is SUNSHINE. We’ve never had such a rainy winter in the 32 years I’ve lived here. The last couple of weeks, we’ve actually had more sunny days than rainy ones! We can’t quite believe it, but we’re enjoying it.

This morning, happiness was sleeping in, and last night, happiness was having a root beer float after dinner. Sometimes it’s the little stuff.

This past Sunday, however, was a milestone event for me. Happiness was buying a new car. I bought a new wine red, four-door, four-cylinder Camry. I traded in my 1999 dark green, four-door, six-cylinder Camry. It was the first time for me to buy a new car. In the past, it was my husband doing all the talking with me tagging along. So this really was a milestone event in my life!

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My trustworthy 1999 Camry was starting to show its age–almost 200,000 miles.

When I headed to the dealership, I didn’t even bring the old car’s title or clean stuff out of the trunk. On TV, I saw that big sales were happening at Toyota dealerships. So I was going to look and determine if another Camry was what I really wanted. I had done my homework by reading through my Consumer Reports and discovering that Toyota Camrys and Subaru Foresters were the best buys for used cars and among the best for new cars—reliable and long-lasting. (I can attest to that. I would have had my Camry 19 years this September with almost 200,000 miles on it.)

I went online and found cars for sale in both types of vehicles at dealerships in Oregon. On the dealership in Eugene, where I’d bought my 1999, there were a few vehicles listed that were new and also some used. So I filled in my information. Within an hour, I received a phone call. I learned that, not only would I receive a rebate for contacting them online if I bought a new car, but this weekend ONLY were very special discounts on new cars. Used cars were at the fairgrounds, also with special pricing. So how could I resist! I made an appointment for Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend. If I bought anything, I thought, it would be a used six-cylinder. I would only look at the new cars. Famous last words!

When I arrived on Sunday, I let them know I couldn’t go over a set limit out-the-door price. After some discussion and taking a test drive, I decided that that car would work for me. What convinced me was that this four-cylinder was more powerful than ones I had driven in the past (so I didn’t need the six-cylinder), the seat was higher and made it easier for me to get in and out (so I didn’t need to switch to an SUV), there was a back-up camera and a couple more safety features (which I really wanted), and they took off $4,000 Memorial Day discount and $2,750 online discount. I did opt for the extra shield protection on the front of the car to protect against chips in the paint. And still, the out-the-door price was under my set price. So how could I not buy this car! I feel like I got a really good deal.

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My new  2017 Camry!

It’s now Day 5 since buying my beautiful red Camry, and I have no buyer’s remorse. I love it! I even took it to the dump yesterday; my two garbage cans fit snugly in the trunk (I was afraid that they wouldn’t fit) and all my recycling inside the car. Got a lot of ribbing for taking a brand new car to the dump! But, hey, that’s going to be one of its uses!

Moving on to other stuff . . .

When it comes to my books, new edition arrivals and book sales always make me happy.

Last week, happiness was the arrival of the third edition of The Crossings Guide. I was down to less than 30 copies and the truck with the books had left Grand Rapids, Michigan, the week before. I was expecting them at any time for several days. Last Thursday the truck finally arrived and delivered 1,000 copies. They were supposed to call ahead. And they did––15 minutes before arrival. Fortunately, I was home. I checked out the books, and they are perfect. So I’m happy and relieved!

Books by the Bay

This bookstore in North Bend was one of my stops and has great signs, good selection of books, and carries both my books.

Two weeks ago, I headed south to restock books at places that have been selling my books for the past few years. In this case, happiness was hearing familiar voices on the phone saying, yes, we’d like more of the “big one” and the “little one.” So I headed south on a beautiful, sunny day and stopped in North Bend, Coos Bay, and Bandon and sold a total of 36 bridge books at four stops. Even ate the lunch I’d packed at a scenic viewpoint south of Bandon. The coast is gorgeous when the sun is shining.

Three weeks ago, happiness was selling $810 worth of books in one day. That is not a typo. Who knew what a great day it would turn out to be when I started out that morning. I was scheduled to do an historic bridge PowerPoint presentation at the convention center at Chinook Winds in Lincoln City to the Oregon Retired Educators at their annual convention. I got up at 4 a.m. to get on the road by 6:15 to be there by 8:15. I wanted to be set up before they got underway at 9 a.m. My program was scheduled for 9:30.

The presentation went very well and there was time for questions before the audience took a break. Then folks lined up to buy books—lots of folks. I sold $705 worth of books in about 40 minutes. Many bought both bridge books, and I even sold two copies of Devil Cat. I usually sell some books when I give presentations, but nothing like this. These folks were not from the coast, and most did not know about the bridges. So they were eager to learn more, and I was only too happy to offer them the opportunity.

On the way home, I stopped at Mari’s books in Yachats. Mari’s first words were, “I was just going to call you. We’re out of books.” So I sold her $105 worth of books. What a day!

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In packing for my trip to California, Groucho wanted to go with me.

For most of April, I was in California visiting friends and family. Happiness was finding the state so green and patches of wildflowers and reservoirs filled with water. Happiness was also spending time with friends. I saw Theresa, who used to be the newspaper editor in Florence, on the front end of the trip and Teeta, my roommate from college, on the back end of the trip. Both of those were wonderful visits—nothing so special as long-time friendships. Happiness was, of course, spending two and a half weeks with my family—mom, sister, brother and sister in law, and nephew—and finding them all in good health. My mom is still going strong at almost 105. We all had great meals together, and mom and I played cards many afternoons.

Happiness is finally getting started on the writing of my next book about the unexpected on the coast. I got 11 of 27 unexpecteds written while in California. And I’ve done one more since being home. I did an interview for another one this past weekend and will write it tomorrow.

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This is a hidden, rhododendron garden that will be one of my unexpecteds!

And last but not least, happiness is my lovable, wonderful Groucho. He continues to do well and must be somewhere between 13 and 16 years old. I know he won’t last forever, so I relish each day with him.

I wish each of you some happiness in your life.

 

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#209–Northern Bridge Tour second time around . . .

 

Considering we’ve had over 50 inches of rain since Christmas and we can remember each of the very few days without rain since then, we were really lucky on the first two bridge tours. We had a brief shower off the bus at the Yaquina Bay Bridge first tour and stayed on the bus due to heavy rain at the Siuslaw River Bridge on the second tour. Otherwise, those tours were rain free. With the forecast for steady rain and 20 mph winds on this tour, I prepared accordingly––rain pants, rain hat, waterproof shoes, the works.

It was drizzling as everyone boarded and since this group was there early, we left early. I passed out the itinerary and glossary. And I let everyone know that I would be doing the talking on the bus so when they got off at each bridge stop, they could wander around and look and not have to stick to me. This would be a tour of 10 bridges with nine stops. I let them know that we would try to park the bus at each stop with a good view of the bridge and no one had to get off—especially if it was raining.

A most congenial group.

I knew four people on this group and four other folks were from Corvalis. They had come over the evening before. And one person could not make it because he awoke with a cold. So there were 13 plus Benny, the same driver as last week, and me. It was a most upbeat group. A great group to spend a day with.

On this tour as with the others, I covered McCullough and cathodic protection first because both apply to all the historic bridges. Then I talked about the tied arch design that made McCullough famous, since the first two bridges are good examples––Big Creek and Ten Mile Creek. We stopped after passing through one of them to look back to see if we could see what was different in the photo of the original bridges and today’s look.

Notice the X-shaped cross bracing on the end of the bridge.

The difference is in the upper cross bracing. About 15 to 20 years ago, the two legs of the Xs on either end were cut off and a straight across brace added. This allowed large motor homes and chip trucks to use the road legally––otherwise they had to go down the middle to avoid hitting the bridge.

Notice the straight bar cross bracing on both ends of the bridge.

Next, we turned into Neptune State Park to see Cummins Creek Bridge. Normally with no wind, reflections are possible, but not this time. With all the rain, Cummins Creek was raging. There are always a few folks who did not know this bridge was here.

Cummins Creek Bridge.

Our next stop was spending a half hour at the Historic Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center with Mary Davis, who has been there for many years––and is now retiring. She took the time to explain everything one last time. This is like a museum to the coastal bridges and even has a replica of McCullough’s office with his stuff in it. There’s a model of the old Alsea Bay Bridge and a video of the construction of the new bridge. Unfortunately, the video player was not cooperating, and we didn’t get to see the video. There is also a great timeline of transportation covering the Oregon coast.

Mary Davis at the Historic Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center.

We learned all about the interpretive center.

Then we stopped at the most photographed bridge in the Northwest—the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Still no rain so far! We drove under the northern end and got off. We saw two of the elegant stairways, looked under the arches, and walked over to where we could get a decent shot of the whole bridge. There were even a few blue-sky breaks.

The Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport.

Under the northern end of the  Yaquina Bay Bridge where we could look through the arches.

North of Newport, we turned into Beverly Beach State Park to see Spencer Creek Bridge, one of the replacement bridges designed with a sense of elegance. It’s built to last 120 years and to withstand a major tsunami. Everyone was impressed with its massive arch and attention to detail in the decorative portions. It’s really close to the waves, and we were all amazed at the numerous logs that have washed up under the bridge from the ocean this winter. And the waves were still in battering mode on this trip.

The massive arch of the Spencer Creek Bridge dwarfs members of our group.

The next stop got the biggest cheers––Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay. Because this restaurant consistently has wonderful food and good service along with its fabulous view right on the bay, no one left disappointed. Two large tables were set up for our group. At the table I sat at, folks enjoyed wine or beer with their meals and nearly all of us had dessert. A very enjoyable lunch to be sure!

From this point on, we headed back towards Florence. But before leaving Depoe Bay, we turned at the signal and parked off the highway at public parking. We walked down to and under the Depoe Bay Bridge. Actually, we were going to look at the two Depoe Bay Bridges side by side—one designed by McCullough in 1927 and one built in 1940 after a fishing village had developed. The two bridges are very similar, but not the same. It’s not hard to tell which one McCullough designed. Most people don’t realize that there are actually two bridges, and there are always a few who won’t believe it until they see it. And still no rain! I tempted fate by removing my rain pants after lunch.

The Rocky Creek Bridge was once on Hwy 101, but the highway was moved several years ago up on the slopes of Cape Foulweather when the highway started dropping off into the ocean.

It was only a short distance to Otter Crest Loop where we saw the beautiful and symmetrical Rocky Creek Bridge (aka Ben Jones Bridge). Again, folks oohed and ahhed because most people don’t realize this bridge is even here. There are also interpretive displays about McCullough, cathodic protection, and Ben Jones, the Father of the Oregon Coast Highway. He was the one that introduced a bill in the state legislature in 1919 to build a coast highway.

I passed out a chart of all the McCullough bridges on the coast and a self-guided tour of the coast bridges complete with map. So as a group we were discussing these. And I was so engrossed in answering questions and giving the pop quiz that I forgot to tell Benny to stop at the wayside at the northern end of the Alsea Bay Bridge. We were on the bridge before I realized it. Since we were behind schedule, I didn’t have him turn around and go back.

Between Waldport and Yachats we ran into a terrific squall with heavy rain. Fortunately, it didn’t last.

Cook’s Chasm replacement bridge at Cape Perpetua.

Next stop was Cook’s Chasm, another one of the replacement bridges built with a sense of elegance. We got off the bus to take a look. This is also where you can see the spouting horn at high tide. Since it wasn’t high tide, no spouting horn for us.

Cape Creek Bridge at Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint.

And the last stop was Cape Creek Bridge, the only aqueduct-style bridge designed by McCullough and the only one in the state. Everyone was impressed by the size of this bridge at 100-feet high. I am also impressed by its complexity and beauty. McCullough considered this one of his most difficult bridges to design. And I always have to regale folks with the facts that this was the last section of the Oregon Coast Highway to be completed needing both a tunnel and a bridge. And because of these two, this section was the most expensive––known as the “million-dollar mile.”

A familiar sight throughout the day.

Every stop was a photo op.

Then we headed to Florence and LCC. None of us could believe that we weren’t rained on even once and no wind! It turned out to be a great day, after all, for checking out Oregon’s incomparable coastal bridges.

 

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