KC Airport

KC Airport
Originally uploaded by myredtie
Toto, I think we are back in Kansas again.


Christmas Coffee Cake

Christmas Coffee Cake
Originally uploaded by myredtie
We started out the morning with this homemade cinnamon pecan coffee cake. We added some eggs scrambled with milk to make them light and fluffy. This recipe turned out great, and it is one that I will share in the blog soon. At the moment I am off to prepare Christmas lunch. Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday?

As Christmas draws near and I see the decorations, watch people frantically buying gifts, and hear the special music that is played only at this time of year, I realize once again that Christmas is really just a big birthday party. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus where everyone gets gifts.

It reminds me of the passage in the book and movie Having Our Say: The Delaney Sister's First 100 Years. There is a part in this true story where the sisters, who are over 100 years old, invite family and friends over every year and have a birthday party for their papa even though he passed away decades ago. They make his favorite dishes and sit around the table reminiscing about their papa and how much he meant to them. It is a way of keeping papa alive in their hearts and minds, and it is also a way to pass down their papa's teaching and life lessons to future generations of Delaneys.

In a way, Christmas is like the Delaney's Birthday Party. We come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus and hopefully take some time during Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to reflect on what he means to us and how his teachings and life lessons impact our lives. It is also a day to eat, dance, sing, and just have a great big party.

If you read the New Testament, you will definitely see that Jesus loved to socialize, and he appreciated a good party. All those somber drawings of Jesus don't really tell the whole story of his life. Let's see the drawings of him dancing during the wedding feast at Cana or enjoying a good dinner at the home of Peter's mom. I want to see the drawings of Jesus being athletic and having boat races with his apostles on the lake. I want to see drawings that not only show Jesus' godliness, but also his humanity.

Ok, that is enough religious stuff for now. Hey, it is Christmas, and I'm allowed to go into religion a little bit on this day. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!


Grandma's Recipe

Grandma's Recipe
Originally uploaded by myredtie
I made these cookies using my grandma's recipe which calls for sweet cream. The taste is similar to shortbread cookies. Merry Christmas!

Mother Nature

Originally uploaded by myredtie
I think Mother Nature is turning into Santa more and more with each passing day here in Portland.


Table Top

Originally uploaded by myredtie
There is definitely more than 12 inches on top of the patio table. We rented a 4 wheel drive suburban to get us to the airport last night so that we could stay at the Sheraton and be close to the airport this morning. Unfortunately, ours was one of the 100 plus flights that was canceled this morning. A scary cab ride brought us to within three blocks of the house where we had to walk the rest of the way with our luggage.
Snow - 1, Mike - 0.


Originally uploaded by myredtie
View outside of the Sheraton Hotel at PDX.

View from hotel at PDX, December 22, 08

We woke up to this view outside of the Sheraton Hotel at PDX.

Division Street, December 21, 2008

Looking down Division Street on December 21, 2008


Portland Art

Portland art
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This sculpture lives in a park in downtown Portland.

Portland Art

Portland art
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This is another view of the sculpture.


Intelligence/skill over Wealth

There is something interesting about Portland that I think I am just now beginning to understand. I could be wrong, but I am beginning to think that the people of Portland actually value intelligence and skill over wealth. I knew something was different in this social realm, but I just couldn't put my finger on it until now. Keep in mind that I could be wrong, but my case is as follows:

1. Hobbies. As I wrote in an earlier blog, Portland libraries are full of people actually reading. The desks are full, and people are sitting on the floor. Even my little local library branch is full of readers. I think this points to a certain value for intelligence in this city. This is also a big hobby town where people are engaged in many different hobbies including arts/crafts, major organic gardening, environmentalism, poetry readings, technology, board games, live concerts, art market venues everywhere, bicycling, homeopathic medicine and cures, record album collecting, hiking, skiing, kayaking, camping, snow boarding, fishing, reading, and the list goes on and on. I think this points to a diverse population which prizes a person's individual interest and skills.

2. Education. In order to get most of my certifications in Oregon, I am having to take eight different education tests. I have taken tests in two states, but they were nothing like Oregon's test. Wow! These are difficult tests. I think they may have a higher standard for teachers in this state. Basically, this shows that they value education. I also find it interesting that during these tough times the Portland Public School District is reportedly not overly concerned because it has a huge amount of money set back for difficult times. I think that says something about a community when the school actually has surplus funds each year.

3. Wealth. I have been here for three months, and I just saw my first stretch limo the other night. In Tulsa, I saw limos quite often. It was not uncommon to see Mercedes, Porsche's, and BMW's driving the streets of Tulsa, but here those sightings are very rare. It is almost like those with money are not into the grandiose displays. I couldn't even tell you a family name in Portland that is known for wealth, and I have already been here three months. Wow! I often see beautiful homes in Portland with fuel efficient cars in their driveways. It is obvious these people could afford more, but I guess they are more concerned about saving the environment than showing off their wealth.

I think there are definite benefits to putting more value on a person's intelligence and skill rather than their wealth. Some people have money, but they actually have very little intelligence. Some people have intelligence, but they have very little money. The combination of both intelligence and money is often an unbeatable force and can accomplish great things in our society. But if I had to concentrate on one, I think that intelligence is definitely more important that a person's wealth. Money is a very fluid thing, it comes and goes so quickly. I have seen supposedly "wealthy" families lose their money quickly and all they have is their intelligence. When this happens it is unfortunate for the members of those once wealthy families who didn't take their time and resources to develop their intelligence. My father always said that education is the one thing that they can't take away from you in life.

I get chills up my spine just thinking about all the good a person with money can do in their lifetime. A perfect example is Andrew Carnegie. I know that Andrew Carnegie was not perfect, and that in order for him to become the "King of Steel" he probably at times had to wheel and deal in a way that bordered on questionable. But toward the end of his life he became a major philanthropist . He said that he was born without money, and he intended to die without money. He began giving money to libraries, education, scientific research, the arts, etc. Like I said, it gives me good chills to think of all the people who have benefited from the generosity of this one man. The Gates Foundation, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, is another example. This foundation gives large amounts of money to education every year.

To wrap this up I'd have to say that I like living in a city where intelligence is valued over wealth. In addition, I am very curious to see how those with wealth and intelligence tend to use their resources in this town. Portland is definitely an adventure with new ideas and new social structures.


Sunset Highway (West to Seaside and Cannon Beach)

Oregon landscape
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This is one of my favorite photos that I have taken of the Oregon landscape. On the East side of Portland we have the Columbia River Gorge
( http://www.crgva.org/ ) which I blogged about earlier, and to the West we have landscape like this all the way to the beach.


Young at Heart (Nutcracker and Snow)

My boyfriend and I attended the Oregon Ballet Theater's production of the Nutcracker last night. This is the first time that either of us has seen the Nutcracker, and I don't believe that there are words to describe our response. Basically, it was beautiful and magical. I can't believe that I have waited this long in my life to see it. This is definitely going to be a yearly event.

I had all sorts of things to write about the ballet before I woke up this morning and saw the snow outside the window. The sight of snow has distracted me from the ballet, and I now have that giddy feeling of wanting to run outside and make snow angels. Snow brings out the kid in me, although it usually doesn't take much for that to happen because it is always just below the surface. Looking out the window this morning, I hopped up and down in excitement. I raced to get dressed and ran outside for a quick walk to church.

Walking in the snow makes me think of Victorian England. I expect to see overly dressed women and men in top hats strolling down the street. I also love how quiet and still everything seems during and just after a nice snow. I am sure that when I am 80 years old I will still wake up, see snow, and run outside trying to catch the flakes on my tongue.

IT'S SNOWING! IT'S SNOWING! IT'S SNOWING! All of a sudden I am remembering the big snows out in Western Kansas when I was a kid. We used to build snow block fort walls for snowball throwing, and one time we even made a snow block igloo.

Today we walked in the snow to breakfast at Clinton Corner, bicycled on snow packed and icy roads to the Fat Straw for bubble tea (3 miles round trip with no accidents). After that we had hot cocoa while sitting in the hot tub on the deck, and tonight I am making homemade tortilla soup and we are watching a movie. This has been a fantastic snow day.

December Blossom

December Blossom
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This December blossom is caught in the first snow of the season. Today when I drew back the curtains I saw snow flakes beginning to fall. On the walk to church I whistled "favorite things" and tried to catch snow flakes on my tongue. On my way back from church I was surprised to see a bicyclist speeding down the snowy and slick road. Now as I write this entry, I hear the neighborhood children laughing, playing, and throwing snow balls at each other. I love snow.


Portland Art

Originally uploaded by myredtie
Joan of Arc Memorial Statue, 1412-1431

Portland Art

Originally uploaded by myredtie
Joan of Arc Memorial Statue. 1412 - 1431


Allergies. How do you combat this seasonal enemy?

When I moved away from Tulsa, OK three months ago I thought that I was leaving behind a good deal of allergy problems. Tulsa has a lot of environmental factors (natural and man-made) that make it a difficult place to live for anyone who suffers from allergies. In Tulsa, it is not a question of do you take allergy medicine, but the question is what type of allergy medication do you take. Unfortunately, Portland, OR has not been to kind on my allergies either. At the moment I am blaming it on the fact that we haven't had a freeze and it is already December 11th.

I have tried most of the prescription medication, and all of the over the counter medication, with a small amount of success. My latest combination is Zyrtec, Mucinex D, and Advair, but I want to investigate more natural and homeopathic solutions. One approach that I am going to do is take a teaspoon of local honey every morning. In order to make honey, bees often use the allergens in the environment. The theory is that if you take a teaspoon of local honey every morning your body will get used to the allergens and not react to them.

Please post any ideas you have that might help with allergies.

Tree Carving

Tree Carving
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This is my neighbor's tree carving. This is the first one I have seen where they added color. The tree was dying and had to come down, so this is a great way to create art and also reuse a natural resource. At the feet of the statue is a carved kitten and raccoon.


Don't Panic; The Answer is 42.

It is easy to get unsettled listening to the news these days. It started out with Wall Street, then the auto maker's bailout package; AT&T layoffs; and just this morning I turned on the radio and heard that the Chicago Tribune, owner of the Chicago Cubs, is filing for bankruptcy. As my blood pressure started to rise and I got that butterfly feeling in my stomach, I was reminded of those sage words from that ancient book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhLGA96fvMc . The truly wise teaching that transcends time and has a very profound affect on today's crisis is this, "Don't Panic."

My mother was born at the beginning of the depression when things were really starting to get tight. She was the youngest of five children, and her father was a Southern Arkansas sharecropper. One of her lessons to us was that no matter what happens with the economy and money, we can still make our way in life and we won't starve. She points to her parents and says that if they could feed five children during the Great Depression, then we can handle anything that comes our way. DON'T PANIC.

My father was also born during the Great Depression in the Western Kansas area that was hit so hard by the Dustbowl. In order to save the farm, Great Grandpa called back all of his kids and their spouses to live at home and work at any possible job to make ends meet and keep the farm. Several couples were living in that house and working at odd jobs to keep the farm going. Grandma told stories about seeing dust in the distance and driving hurriedly to town in the Model T to get the kids from school before the dust storm hit. After one of these storms there would be dust everywhere and you would have to shovel the sidewalks. The lesson of the story is that they did survive, and they did keep the farm that has been in the family for four generations. DON'T PANIC.

It is true that the economy is falling all around us and that things are going to change. There will be some truly bad things come out of this time of distress, but we may see some truly great things happen as well. For example, maybe America will as a whole pay more attention to preserving the environment and drive fuel efficient cars or take public transportation, maybe we will out of necessity begin recycling items and reusing them in creative ways, maybe families will become closer, and maybe we will finally see ourselves as part of the worldwide culture where our indulgence and excess has consequences on other parts of the world. DON'T PANIC.

Finally, be sure to remember that when things get tough all you have to do is tell yourself that the "answer to the Great Question, of Life, the Universe and Everything is Forty-two."
(Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).


December Blossom

December Blossom
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This is a blossom on a bush by my driveway that greets me every morning. It is incredible to have a flower blooming beside the house in December.


I spy Saint Nick

I spy Saint Nick
Originally uploaded by myredtie
This is an official Saint Nick sighting at the Clackamas Town Center.


I've been thinking about all of the rituals or traditions that my family keeps during the holidays. While growing up we always opened our presents on Christmas Eve. Mom would make a nice roast, and after dinner we would gather around the Christmas tree and listen to dad read the Christmas story out of the bible. As a kid I really didn't pay much attention to the story because I was more curious about how many of those boxes under the tree were mine and what they had in them. After opening presents we were allowed to play for a little while until we had to go to bed and take a nap before midnight mass. Around 11:00 our sleep would be promptly interrupted, and we would dress in our finest clothes in order to head to church for the midnight mass that would last for at least an hour, if not two.

Christmas morning brought with it a flurry of activity. I come from a large family of five where I was the youngest, so on holidays everyone would come home with their kids in tow. Grandma and grandpa would come and bring a great big plate of homemade cookies and fudge. This plate would include fig pinwheels, divinity, and peanut clusters. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. We would have a couple different meats to choose from, mom's famous homemade rolls, and lots of pies and cakes for dessert. After lunch we would go for a walk or play some type of sport in the yard with the nieces and nephews. At dinner we would snack on leftovers and lounge around the living room or den.

Why am I blogging about this? Because it has been on my mind. Last night I heard a guy talk about a New Year's Day tradition and it got me to thinking about all the different holidays and all the different traditions that I hold dear. I think we need holidays to look forward to in life. Holidays mean something special and something different. Holidays give us an excuse to stop focusing on the everyday things of life and for a brief time focus on family and refocus on what is important in life. They bring with them different decorations for the house, different social events, and different foods. I think we need holidays, and they are an essential part of a healthy life. Happy Holidays!


Recycling or Craft Project?

As I look around the house, I see several things that I wish I could recycle. My boyfriend gave me an incredible bouquet of balloons for my birthday, and as the helium slowly goes out of them I can't help but wonder if there isn't something I could do with them that would be memorable. Yes, I also used to dry the flowers that people would give me in hopes of recycling them into something memorable. In the end I just ended up with a bunch of dried flowers hanging around.

What about wine bottles? Surely there is some way that isn't tacky that wine bottles could be recycled. I know I could put them in the bucket for the trashman to recycle, but I kind of really like the labels and think there must be something I can do with them in the house. In the meantime, they are making themselves a home in the basement. Oh, and surely there must be something that can be made out of all those great wine corks.

The reason these wonderful materials don't get reused in our house is because I'm just not crafty. I have definitely tried to be crafty, but I just don't seem to have that ability. I have tried cross stitch, sewing, painting, crocheting, and even latch hook with no success. These attempts produced more stuff lying around the house that I felt I must do something with. My latest attempt at crafting is to call it recycling and see if that will bring some inspiration. Like I said, surely there is something I can do to recycle a wine bottle, but what? I could fill it with water and use it as a pitcher, or I could put a candle on the end and put a collection of them on the table as a centerpiece (ok, tacky I know), I might just put the dish washing soap in it in order to have a more festive sink area but that would then produce a great plastic dishwashing bottle that I would have to do something with.

Out of frustration, and a growing mound of recycle/craft materials, I will take my search to the Internet and google things to do with empty wine bottles and used festive balloons. I just hope that the ideas aren't too tacky.

Entrance to China Town in Portland, Oregon


Walking down Hawthorne on a Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon I decided to enjoy the sunny day and take a walk on Hawthorne Ave.. On may way there, I passed through Ladd's Addition, http://www.portlandbridges.com/portland-neighborhoods/00-Ladd%27s%20Addition.html . For the Tulsa readers, Ladd's addition has homes similar to Brady Heights, but they are kept up like the homes in Maple Ridge. I drool every time I walk through this neighborhood. I digress because this blog isn't about Ladds.

As I walked down Hawthorne Ave. on a Sunday afternoon, I saw a very diverse sampling of people and stores. I walked by the piercing shops, voodoo art shop, hemp products shop, mom & pop hardware stores, great individually owned restaurants, the Baghdad Theater http://www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=9&id=176
second hand stores, Tibet and Asian art stores, metaphysical/magick healing facility, herbal remedies store, Christian bookstore, and one store that looked like the crew from The Matrix
shopped there. Hawthorne is a trendy, kind of hippy area of Portland. All of the stores I mentioned above can be found in a span of about six blocks. Most people really like Hawthorne, and I am no exception.

As I was walking down Hawthorne with my Ipod headphones blaring out my eclectic mix of songs, I stopped in at a second hand store that caught my eye. While opening the door I noticed the sign that said, "Feel Free to Dance." Huh! I soon understood what that meant as I walked into a great mall of shopping booths that played fairly loud techno music in the background. I looked around to see where the disco ball was, and I found it in a booth for sale. No, I didn't buy it. Yes, I did think about it though. As I walked through the sometimes antique, sometimes campy booths, I was drawn to a Christmas mouse statue. Yes, I love Christmas mice. It's my thing. Anyway, when I went up to the front of the store to pay for my cute treasure I noticed the owner behind the counter. She was a rather tall drag queen in a bright purple pantsuit and a wig whose color really was a little dark for her complexion. All and all she pulled off the look very well. Was I surprised? Not really. This is Portland after all, and a well dressed drag queen shop owner is not really shocking. It is noteworthy, but not shocking. Did I mention that there are more piercings and tattoos on Hawthorne Ave. then in all of the Oklahoma alternative education facilities combined? Yes, I am exaggerating, but not by much.

Portland is a great mix of people. Diversity is definitely honored, and everyone is encouraged to express their own unique personality. Living here is like a breath of fresh air because I am continually reminded not to put so much emphasis on the things that don't really matter in life. I'm definitely learning to relax and kind of let my hair down so to speak. I am learning to do my part to "Keep Portland Weird."