Midwinter Dream

Friday, January 13, 2023

In this early morning, the outside temperature is a mild 46 degrees and predicted to reach into the mid-fifties. I’m loving being in sweater weather, but timidly, for January is the dead of midwinter. Likely, soon ahead will be sudden and dramatic wintery weather changes.

Today’s weather will facilitate my going out and buying lottery tickets. Of course, that will be tossing away money; but will enable hours of sweet dreams of becoming suddenly and incredibly wealthy. The hours will pass pleasantly between my ticket purchase and the lottery draw.

Who could have imagined jackpots big as the current ones? Who’s mind could have wandered into the neighborhood of today’s huge payouts? Who among us could handle suddenly becoming a multi-billionaire? What’s a typical worst financial condition a simple extra few hundred thousand dollars couldn’t relieve?

Actually, a single extra hundred thousand would free most of us from debt and leave extra for spending.

Anyway, this morning I will go for quick picks. My little investment will conjure up fine fantasies. I will stall until tomorrow morning and then check the winning numbers, hoping for a critical few to match mine.

Dear Friends: I very pleasantly can imagine the joy of a simple hundred-thousand windfall! Diana

Coping Strategy

Thursday, January 12, 2023

I spent most of yesterday reading a mystery novel for a book club because I plan to attend its next meeting. Ordinarily, mysteries aren’t my favorite reads, because resolving fictional mysteries usually adds sudden artificial plot twists. This novel, THE GUIDE, by Peter Heller, began slowly and was interesting enough. Later, Heller heated the mystery by speeding up its action and the plot became difficult to follow. I considered the story’s ending contrived, an abrupt drop-off.

I’m glad for taking the time to read that novel and am interested in what other readers think about it. After finishing it, I felt happier for the freedom to turn my attention to another book, THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT, by Oliver Sacks. This will be my first in a five-book exploration of the history and evolvement of modern science, as recommended by The Economist.

Even knowing little about the evolution of science, the topic fascinates me. It took eons for humans to gain intelligence and gather into social units. While humans created significant inventions, scientific progression occurred slowly. Until the mid-1800s when the Industrial Revolution began. Afterward, came one significant invention after another, but still more slowly than later, in the 1960s and 1970s. Once electronics were introduced, changes occurred rapidly and science became overwhelming.

I hope to thread the needle by gaining a sense of how slow progress evolved into rapid changes. Science has so affected production, populations, and cultures. The real story is more compelling than any contrived mystery yarn.

Dear Friends: Reading in wintertime, a great offset to challenging weather. Diana

Expanding Borders

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

For years I worked as a sample server in the local Costco for one of its associate companies. A year ago, I decided to quit and stay home but eventually returned to work for other organizations. I’ve continued shopping at Costco and saying hello to employees who were workplace acquaintances. Last spring, one such, Jan, wondered if I might rent space in my home to her. On a first impulse, I said no, but then considered the possible mutual benefits. Since then, Jan and I have discussed the possibilities, and pros and cons.

On the plus side, we’ve been acquaintances for years and share an affection for dogs. She used to breed and train her adored Airedale Terriers. She’s comfortable around equines and accustomed to riding horseback. Jan works full-time is five years from retirement, and has lots of nervous energy. She wishes to be active and offers assistance with my animals and property. Like me, she’s a cancer patient, in remission, and doing well.

She says she wouldn’t be bothered at midnights as the dogs and I are rumbling through the house so they may go outside a few minutes; says that, like me, she awakens at 5 a.m. to start her days; says she wouldn’t be bothered by my house heating set fairly low to reduce heating costs.

I have hesitated, having mostly lived alone except for romantic interludes. I’d have to adjust to sharing with another person. At the bottom line, however, a housemate would be beneficial and Jan seems suited to the circumstances. We will move ahead in several weeks when she can leave her current living situation.

And, as a must to be settled up front, our political views and preferences are similar!

Dear Friends: This represents a big step ahead for me in lifestyle and personal progress. Diana

Winer Blahs

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

This day is starting off a bit chilly. The local weather is predicted to warm toward its recent average in the mid-40s. Yesterday, massive cloud banks over Central Oregon, to the south and west, notably obliterated sights normally in view, including the local Cascades.

The header shows the Middle and North Sisters Mountains, a picture I took on a recent clear day.

Despite yesterday’s clouds, or because of them, the late afternoon sunshine incredibly was bright. I was driving on a neighborhood street and wearing sunglasses, but a windshield shine prevented me from seeing the road. I stopped, rolled down the driver’s and passenger’s windows, and peered at the road to get my bearings, before moving ahead gingerly.

Yesterday’s weather report suggested wearing sunglasses and today’s does, too. In Central Oregon, even with a very low UV index, afternoon sunshine in the west can be beyond bright. Yesterday, I happened to be facing west while driving when the shine stopped me. Lesson learned (again!), do avoid driving in late afternoons.

I’m watching weather trends hoping for more cold to freeze my dry lot’s ground, or for more warm to dry it out. I’m frequently caring for horses out there, where walking equates to wading in slushy mush. Cooperative weather is the best way to deal with too wet ground. Please weather, do what will ease my being out with the horses.

It’s well that our average temps are in the forties. This light jacket weather is much better than snow pants and a system jacket, which tend to be bulky and hinder bending and lifting while caring for animals.

Dear Friends: At least, our daylights are a bit longer, telling us the winter is winding down. Diana

Winter Day’s Delight

Monday, January 08, 2023

Yesterday, the Eight Pines Ranch welcomed visitors. They were my friend (and former coworker at WinCo Foods), Eva, and her look-alike daughter, Amanda, visiting from California. Amanda is an independent thinker and an animal lover, who upon deciding to go traveling won’t leave home without both Rain, her Labrador puppy, and a beloved tabby cat. The kitty wasn’t a visitor to my ranch yesterday but sweet Rain was here. (With apologies for my pitiful photography skills, look for Rain by peering into the lower right corner.)

We toured the Ranch. The three visitors met my dogs, chickens, goat, and horses. Of course, inside the house, they met Peaches, the Cockatoo, and also, Gilbert, my rescued racing pigeon.

The instant Peaches saw Rain, he began screaming as only Cockatoos can. About Peaches, I’m accustomed to his noises and can tune him out. Yesterday, I barely heard his screams before noticing how those sounds captured our visitors. I explained there’s no sense in trying to shut Peaches up, because he starts and stops when he feels like it. On the other hand, Gilbert, as usual was quiet and soothing.

Ava and Amanda are pleasant, enjoyable companions. Now that my home’s interior finally is coming together, it’s a feel good to greet visitors. As a bonus these days, our weather is warmer (knock on wood!), making it easier to go down to my barn and interact with the outside critters.

Here’s a picture of Ava and me. I wonder why we forgot to keep Rain nearby to be in our picture.

A note about Ava. She befriended me when I worked at WinCo. I struggled to learn the cashiering work and she was an unofficial, kind coach. I often asked Eva about various aspects of my job as well as who in management I might approach for something needed. That our friendship is outlasting our time working together is very cool.

By the way, I’m adding another photo. It’s not relevant to today’s blog but is a delight. I captured this interesting Red-Tailed Hawk flying toward its favorite tree and lowering to land. I consider this tree the hawk’s favorite after often seeing the bird perched atop it and eyeing the pasture below. This sighting was timely, for I had a camera.

Dear Friends: Here at the Eight Pines Ranch, a near-perfect whole day. Diana


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Yesterday, I made a “quick trip” with a shopping list to Costco but was there for over an hour. I kept running into folks I know, some whom I’d met up with recently and others not so much. Our catch-up meetings later felt unusual and I am reflecting as to why.

There’s some history in that I used to be a sample server at our local Costco. While working, I’d watch as people “ran into one another” and for long periods talked and blocked some of “my aisle.” I could see that the store had destination value stretching beyond the main goal of selling merchandise. “Shoppers” conspicuously relieved boredom on rainy and snowy days by coming in and just wandering or hanging out reading the books for sale. Parents routinely brought in their school-age children for entertainment and treats from sample tables. Many shopping or wandering bumped into acquaintances, and all would group for a while.

Back then, on my off days I could be among the “boredom group” but never in the “bumping into” crowd. While working and distributing food samples, I disliked meet-and-greets who blocked my aisle and chatted noisily. After yesterday when I, too, met and greeted, I considered what seemed different and concluded it’s that I don’t work in the store. In the old days, my shopping friends would stop, say hello, and we’d catch up. After leaving my inside-Costco job and making new friends in subsequent workplaces, we’re meeting while shopping in the store.

Unlike a large urban environment, for example, LA, here in Central Oregon there’s one Costco. Yesterday, while chatting with friends, I avoided glancing around apologetically at a nearby sample server. I had begun realizing and accepting that meeting-ups are part and parcel of shopping in the large general marketplace.

Going forward, I will count out any possibility of successfully “quick tripping,” with or without a shopping list, to our local Costco.

Dear Friends: To avoid or shorten casual meetings, shop in the store’s earliest- or latest-open hours. Diana


Saturday, January 07, 2023

Today will be horse-focused and busy. A load of hay is scheduled to arrive and be stacked. It’s a “relief infusion” that will provide food aplenty for my equines until well into next summer. For a change, I’ll be relieved from having to scramble in early summer to locate available hay, as drought has shortened supplies. This winter is wet enough that next summer’s yields may be greater. I’ll resupply from later summer’s second cutting.

My farrier, Russ, regularly drives from his home base in California and works locally for a few days. Today, he’ll be here to trim my trio’s hooves. Russ knows his business. He watches as a horse trots, sees how its hooves strike and its weight shifts, and then shapes hooves so that each lands most efficiently. I trust Russ’s skills, and moreover, think he’s unique among farriers. Russ has politically liberal views. Today, he’ll offer an interesting perspective on the House’s choregraphed voting to tame a potential leader.

Last night, I couldn’t resist watching a live video stream from the House, as Representatives entered their fifteenth voting round. Theater!

Small wonder that so many people worldwide are addicted to Tik-Tok’s unending, brief, funny videos.

Anyway, I digress from my original point, that today will be busy and interesting. Plus, the local weather is warming up again. Today will reach into the mid-forties, and maybe slightly higher here at the ranch. Weeks of freezing temps make the grounds frozen. I can’t drag the dry lot to clean, so it’s a territory of frozen muck. Walking on those solids is like navigating an ancient lava flow, carefully placing each foot to avoid tripping on protrusions.

Still, it’s the mid-forties! Ah, summerlike.

Dear Friends: Hay, hooves, warmth, and humor; everything a doctor would prescribe.

Hi Again, Miss Merry

Friday, January 06, 2023

I’m thinking about pulling up an adventure fantasy, featuring a Welsh Pony, which I drafted years ago. Its title is, “Little Miss Merry,” and in it, the pony narrates her story in first-person.

The real Merry lived with me before suddenly becoming the victim of a severe colic episode. Losing her occurred rapidly and was heartbreaking to me. For months afterward, I worked at working through some of my sadness by creating an adventure story that featured the pony’s individuality and courage.

The near-final draft read well enough for friends to see, and they generated encouraging feedback. That draft needed more editing, however, and the pony’s clear and interesting activities begged for illustrations to enhance her story. Real photos of Merry weren’t the right solution. I am incapable of illustrating and wasn’t able to afford someone who could. The project long has been on hold.

Perhaps until now, though, with DALL-E available. The header photo from DALL-E pretty well illustrates an important scene. In it, Miss Merry accidentally has met and begins to exchange perceptions with a big, old, wise draft horse.

Dear Friends: I’m running out of time, might write more after experimenting with illustrations. Diana


Thursday, January 05, 2023

I had a jolly good time yesterday shopping, to furnish a couple of gaps in my home. Unless I want to drive clear to Portland and shop at Ikea, I am comfortable substituting the local Bi-Mart. The stores have similar furnishings, minimalistic, inexpensive, and rather nice-looking.

I like Idea and hope it comes to growing Central Oregon. While Ikea merchandise is available online, my experience with its products has taught me to see, touch, and evaluate, before buying. I approach what’s available at Bi-Mart in the same way. Cheap furnishings require assessing their potential for surviving routine wear and tear. I’m not particularly hard on anything but have dogs that might chew and my cat sharpens his nails. I like it when replacing something isn’t a big deal.

Lots of big things come packed in flat boxes and require assembling. I dislike assembling furniture, first, because instructions difficult to understand are hard to follow. The provided assembling tool is too small for easy use. There are differing bolts appearing alike too much. Finally, pieces could come together too heavy for me to manipulate. But cheap furnishings are self-hauls to home, and one assembles.

My new stuff doesn’t need assembling as I selected carefully. Most pieces simply require “putting into place and using.”

Starting this New Year, all inside is shiny. Time will tell how long that may last.

Dear Friends: This “discardable age” is good for pocketbooks but lousy for the environment. Diana

Finally, Progress

Wednesday, January 04, 2022

After acquiring the needed basics for a well-enough life (e.g., shelter, food, health, and [for me] re-flooring to ease living with dogs), I have begun re-exploring my potential to be more creative. In other words, with the floors done and my housework comparatively effortless, while moving and rearranging household items, I’m rediscovering pastimes to which I’ve paid little attention.

I’ve been dusting off and finding places for the tools of those pastimes. There’s my sewing machine. On it a couple of years ago I made a skirt. That became an article I loved but never wore, which still hangs in my closet. Now, on finding more clothing patterns, I remember wanting to keep sewing but lacked both the time and space.

Now, about the oil paints, brushes, pastel chalks, and watercolor supplies I’m finding. All were played with and then dropped. Along with those tools, I’m finding sketches and trial paintings. None were very good but all showed potential. I needed schooling and practice and without time for that hoped to dash off some sort of recognizable art.

I hope to return to those activities.

For sewing, I have set up my machine again. I have snow pants and jeans needing shortening that could provide useful practice if I could remember how to thread the complex electronic machine. In making room so the floor guy could do his work, I lost several instruction books supporting my hobbies. Recently, I found on eBay an instruction book for my sewing machine and ordered it. I might be sewing next week.

For the art supplies, it seemed I couldn’t restart without first taking classes. But I’ve had an epiphany! Recognizing that my outcomes needn’t be figurative but impressionistic, AI popped into my head, specifically, DALL-E, which can render pieces less figurative but very expressive. I will use DALL-E for pieces with which to practice art.

(A note about reproducing images. Art that copies a photograph isn’t considered original unless one artist produces the original image as well as reproduces it. I’ll argue that DALL-E would produce my own original art, for I must describe in detail what’s desired before DALL-E can pull together millions of pieces needed from worldwide sources to produce my desired outcome.)

Dear Friends: All that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Diana