Friday, June 30, 2006

My World is in the Garden and in my Home

The title of this post is a spin-off from the title of the book, THE WORLD IS IN MY GARDEN by Chris Maser. I met his wife, Zane at Fitness Over 50 in Corvallis about three years ago. I've been intrigued with the title of this book since I heard about it from Zane.

My world is now in the garden and in the house on my acreage in Alsea. Gas prices and a lack of money has forced me to look hard at my choices in life. I can't afford to make all the trips into Corvallis to exercise or to do extra things. Just a fact. Corvallis is 45 minutes away from Alsea.

Life these days needs to be about having everything you love near to you. My dream would be to live within walking distance to a great grocery store (notice that I listed food first), the library, a gym, and shopping. It would also be great to find a church home and be part of a hobby group, like knitting or quilting. Right now that's not possible. Zip. Nada. Since I'm dreaming at the moment, let's also add dancing, science and history museums, zoos, the symphony, travel, art museums, Broadway plays, friends, and mah jongg.

I'm hard at work in my garden and working on three novel manuscripts. I'm taking three correspondence courses through the mail. I'm working on a mystery aboard a cruise ship for Long Ridge Writers Group with my character created last November for NaNoWriMo. The second one is a mainstream novel about elder issues for Writers Digest School, and the last one is a juvenile novel about two sisters who deal with the death of their mother through writing plays for the Institute of Children's Literature. A chapter yesterday and more today.

I have the honor and privilege of working with and learning from three amazing and talented writers. For Writer's Digest School, I'm working with Gloria Kempton, one of the editors from Writer's Digest Magazine. I'm working with the science fiction and mystery novelist, Mary Rosenblum for Long Ridge Writer's Group, and the non-fiction children's writer, Linda Durrant from the Institute of Children's Literature.

Sometimes it's hard for me to stay home all the time but too much outside activity is destructive to my writing process. I am hoping my writing will earn periodic vacations and opportunities to visit great events like the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. So much to see. So much to learn. Writing must come first.

I'm having fun today because my character for one of my novels just leaped off the page and I love her. I finally figured her out. She was going to die at the end of the book but I changed my mind. She's too much fun. I must keep her for more books.

Fade out until the next time...........

So You Think You Can Dance

I love the high-energy show on Fox TV, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. There's so much talent. Everyone who has made it this far is amazing.

I'm so impressed with this show that gives opportunities and a showcase for dancing talent. It's the British who are coming up with some of the BEST shows on television like American Inventor, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol.

I enjoy watching Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer and I'm grateful he created the show with Simon Fuller. I love watching the entertaining Cat Deeley and can't wait to see what she's going to wear every week. My favorite choreographer and judge is Brian Friedman.

My favorite couples are Heidi and Ryan, Allison and Ivan, Donyelle and Benji, Dmitry and Aleksandra, Martha and Travis.

This show makes me want to get up and dance. As a little girl I took ballet and tap dance so I was introduced to dance. After we moved away from my hometown of Libby, Montana where I was born, and moved to Salem, Oregon at the end of 3rd grade, there were no more lessons.

I was sad to see that Aleksandra was eliminated from the show this week. She just graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois so I know she has a bright future ahead of her. It's one of the finest universities in the country. I'm prejudiced because my son graduated from Northwestern in biomedical engineering. I think it's the BEST! Best wishes for success, Aleksandra.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

OSU wins College World Series

The headlines on the front page of the Corvallis Gazette Times this morning reads "CHAMPS! OSU Wins College World Series!" Congratulations to OSU, to Coach Casey, and to all the players on the OSU baseball team! The GT has inserted a great poster of the team jumping in the air celebrating victory. What a great photo! It deserves to be put on the wall.

I remember saying a week ago last Monday to someone at Timberhill Athletic Club that they have the ability to win it and they did! Cool! I'm happy for them and I'm happy for everyone who loves baseball in Oregon.

In a related article in the GT, it said that Timberhill Athletic Club was packed for the final game. Many went with the intention of exercising while watching the game on Cardio Theater as they are on the elliptical runner or exercise bike. That's the way to watch the game. Perfect.

Saving Face

I've discovered that life these days is all about saving face. In relationships one of the most important things is to allow the other person to save face. To confront with wrongdoing can be the ultimate sin. Whistleblowers these days are not protected. They are hunted down and destroyed never to work again. Just look at the woman who blew open the Enron fiasco. When asked if she has a job, she said no. All she can do is go around the country telling her story. No one will hire her because she poses a threat. Everyone knows she won't keep her mouth shut, if she sees someone do something wrong.

What are you supposed to do when you see someone do something wrong that will also cause you harm? What was she supposed to do? Blend into the background and allow it to continue? No one seems to care these days whether something is right or wrong. It's all about saving face.

I tried another social experiment last week. It wasn't planned. It just happened. I was kind to someone who has caused me great harm. I was genuinely nice. I felt like a Jew being kind to Hitler. I guess I hoped it would end the escalation. I guess I hoped he would stop. I guess I hoped he would say he was sorry for all he has tried to do to me. I think all it did was to justify in his mind that he was right in the beginning.

Ah, well... Am I sorry for being nice? No. I cling fast to my values. I forgave a long time ago. I feel strongly that it is important to be nice, no matter how I am treated.

If I were younger, I'd go to law school. I'd arm myself with knowledge of the law so no one would ever be able to take away so much again and I'd help protect others from having this happen to them. The law is like martial arts--it's the armor of protection in case you need to use it in an emergency. People don't mess with attorneys. I would feel protected and I'd always be nice. :-)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Minimum Wage

This week I was watching C-Span2, as I often do. Years ago I used to subscribe to the Congressional Record. It came in the mail and it was free. I thought it was amazing that I had access to the speeches and text of what went on in Congress.

Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois spoke about an amendment that will be presented by Senator Edward Kennedy. Senator Durbin is the co-sponsor. It will raise the minimum wage in three steps over several years. First, to $5.85, then to $6.55, and finally to $7.25. The minimum wage is now at $5.15 and has not been raised for 9 years.

President Franklin Roosevelt first created the federal minimum wage. Senator Durbin said that raising the federal minimum wage would benefit 6 1/2 million workers, half of whom are women. He said that 37 million Americans are living in poverty, which is 10% of all Americans. 13 million are children. Since the late 1970's poverty in the United States has increased by 50%.

Senator Durbin said that a minimum wage employee working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns $10,700 a year. This is $6,000 below the federal poverty guideline of $16,600 for a family of three. He said, "We should be ashamed of our nation where we have reached this point where we ignore what we are doing to people because of minimum wage."

He went on to say, "While we have consistently year after year denied an increase in minimum wage to the poorest, hardest working Americans, we have every year without fail increased congressional pay. Our salaries have gone up while we have ignored the plight of the poorest among us."

Those Americans earning minimum wage are not our poorest Americans, for we have an invisible poor who are homeless and without shelter living in our country. Even if the minimum wage were raised to $7.25 in a few years, I doubt that it will make up for inflation and pay for the needs of a family with health insurance, child care, food, housing, clothing, gas, heating, etc.

Something to think about but we can write to our Senators and ask them to support the Kennedy Amendment to raise the minimum wage. Another thing we can do is to write a letter of thanks to Senators Kennedy and Durbin for leading this effort to raise the minimum wage. So often acts of courage are not remembered with a letter of thanks. Senator Durbin said, "There was a time when both political parties cared about the issue of poverty. Today we don't discuss it. I don't know why. I think we should." So do I.

Alsea Bounty of Art

Last Saturday the Alesa Public Library held an art festival showcasing the local talent. I wanted to take a quick peek near the end of the day when they were taking down the art and I saw an amazing variety of talent. They are having another Bounty of Art here in Alsea in October and it is worth coming with money in your pockets.

I saw everything from creative felted hats and scarves to fine crafted wood furniture. There was a large selection of handmade soaps and candles that are perfect for gifts on any occasion. I saw exquisite floral paintings and photography of local landscapes that would be perfect for any wall in your home. I saw a large selection of hand-made quilts. There were Native American wood carvings, puzzles, and spoons. One of the puzzles that caught my eye was in the shape of a large frog. To top it all off there were delicious baked goods.

Next October I need to make sure I have money in my pockets to buy the Bounty of Art in Alsea.

Weight Watcher Wednesday

Yesterday at Weight Watchers, I lost 2.4 pounds for the week for a total of 18 pounds since I started.

The meeting was inspirational as usual and the group lost a total of 46.8 pounds this week. Nancy said, "If we want to lose weight and keep it off, we need to talk different and think different." The meeting centered on positive affirmations, self-talk, and empowering beliefs.

Nancy closed with this motivational message. "Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character and your character becomes your destiny."

My exercise for the week:
Wednesday: 30 minutes elliptical runner, then 10 minutes weights, back to 45 minutes on the elliptical runner, and finished with a 30 minute swim. On the elliptical runner, I was watching C-Span2. I watched Senator Smith from Oregon talk about the sacrifice of Thomas Tucker. My heart goes out to the family of Thomas Tucker. I sent a letter today offering my sympathy. I pray that this does not happen again and that the world can live in peace.
Tuesday: gardening
Monday: 1 hour and 20 minutes elliptical runner and 30 minutes swim
Sunday: 30 minutes exercise bike
Saturday: 30 minutes swim and 30 minutes elliptical runner. I wish I could afford to own an elliptical runner. A good one. A new Precor 546.
Friday: gardening
Thursday: 30 minute walk
Wednesday: 30 minutes swim and 60 minutes elliptical runner.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Weight Watcher Wednesday

I gained a pound this week. The meeting was inspirational. Nancy is a great leader who encourages everyone. I like her. Today one of my WW friends has lost 40 pounds. She's inspirational to everyone.

Today I went to the athletic club and did 60 minutes on the ellilptical runner and 30 minutes in the pool. Yesterday I did 60 minutes elliptical runner, 10 minutes weights, 5 minutes NuStep, and 20 minutes in the pool. That's it. Nothing else all week. I'm not consistent with exercise. I only like to exercise at the gym and it's 45 minutes away. With the gas prices up so high, it's hard to get there. I would love to be able to exercise there 5 days a week.

Timberhill Athletic Club is the most beautiful gym. It has everything you could want. It's spacious and packed with great equipment of every variety. There's so much for everyone with racketball, tennis, handball, two pools, sauna, spas, steamroom, basketball court, etc. I feel blessed to be able to exercise there. Since I don't have health insurance, I consider my membership as my health prevention insurance. I don't want to give it up because then I wouldn't exercise at all. I learned to swim for the first time about a year and a half ago. Pretty amazing for being over 55! I don't swim fast but I can get back and forth completely on my own without any help or fear of the water. Others zoom past back and forth in the next lanes and I slowly go back and forth. I think some of them can do several laps to my one but I'm having a great time. I love the water and I love the chance to be able to swim. I think I would die inside if I couldn't have this opportunity to swim and be in the deep end. Kind of silly but it's important to me.

Next week they are having special classes on healthy aging. I'm looking forward to learning how to be a healthy 58 year old who wants to stay that way.


I got a post card in the mail yesterday about my 40th year McNary High School reunion for the class of 1966. The card brought a flood of memories. Our senior class will join North Salem High School at Pietro's Pizza. Then there will be a picnic and potluck in Keizer the next day in August.

Our senior class was split because it was so large. Our sophomore and junior years at North Salem High School was split into an early morning school and an afternoon school. My senior year at McNary left us part of what we once were at North. My junior and senior year were half days with morning at school and the afternoon at W.T. Grant Company on Liberty Street. I was manager of three departments and enjoyed retail. I've always liked business.

I belonged to Faith Lutheran Church on North River Road in Keizer. Our Luther League often did many activities together and they were my best friends. I remember meeting at Pietro's after football or basket ball games for pizza in a group. I remember slumber parties at Merna's house. We watched the Beatles for the first time together at one of Merna's slumber parties on the Ed Sullivan Show. Merna's mother died last year in Portland. She was a kind woman.

The guy in charge of the reunion was one of my skating partners. During elementary school, junior high and stopping in high school, I used to roller skate and compete. I can't find my metals that I won in competitions for dance and free style. I didn't get very far. I only received three metals. Two for dance and one for freestyle. There was a movement to make roller skating part of the Olympics but it didn't happen. I remember the fun of my book of choreography for dance. I loved to roller skate. I used to live at Skateland on the weekends growing up. Almost every Saturday. Almost every Sunday. Sometimes during the week. I loved to skate and I loved dancing on skates. It stopped before it got a chance to really begin. I didn't get to take the lessons I needed. The Olympic dream for roller skating didn't happen. I sure don't understand why, considering some of the events in the Olympics today. Roller skating is a healthy sport for kids to keep fit and active. I think they made a big mistake to not allow it. There was room for roller skating in the Olympics.

Toll Roads

I've been having fun reading original historical documents at the Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath. I'm working on a children's article about life along the Oregon Trail.

Yesterday and last Friday yielded great tidbits of information that have nothing to do with the experience of children along the Oregon Trail but I figure I'll use it someday in an article or book.

One entry that caught my eye yesterday was about toll roads along the Oregon Trail. Along the Platte River, the Sioux Indians spread out four buffalo robes on the ground and told immigrants they needed to pay a toll for crossing through their territory. Ingenuity at work. Those wanting to pass needed to give a quart of flour and a pint of sugar for each person. For each yoke of oxen, a certain amount of tobacco, bullets, and gun powder was needed. The flour was placed on one robe, sugar on another, tea and coffee on a third, powder and bullets on the fourth.

I've read more than one account of jokesters along the Oregon Trail. It seems that pioneers thought that Native Americans shared the same sense of humor. They found out that what was said in jest was taken seriously. Offers to trade women and children for horses were responded with horses brought and expectations that the trade would be made. This caused havoc on more than one occasion when pioneer men tried to get out of this oral contract.

An interesting legend with the Flathead Indians near Astoria was about salmon. Any salmon that was caught by a pioneer was followed home by an Indian who proceeded to cut out the heart of the salmon and burn it. They believed that if the heart of the salmon was not burned, the spirit of the fish would go back to the ocean where it lived and tell the other fish how it was caught. They believed that if this was not done, there would be no fishing the next year. So maybe this is why wild salmon is becoming scarce in the northwest. Some fishermen are forgetting to burn the heart of the salmon and the spirit of the wild salmon has gone back to tell how they were caught. Makes perfect sense to me. We don't respect the land anymore or take care of it so there are consequences.

Oh, the fun of history. The most fun is when there are stories about people. I was a social science major in college. I was planning on teaching high school history. My degree is from Oregon College of Education, which is now Western Oregon University in Monmouth.

Things don't always go as planned. I took one class that changed the way I saw education forever. In a class called the Exceptional Child about the full range of difference, I learned about the Institute of the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia. This changed how I regarded the potential of parenting to make a difference in the lives of my own children.

It's been fun at the museum library to see books written by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Kenneth Holmes, a gentle and kind man. He was a history professor who wrote countless books and articles. I took a writing class from his son, Donald. I was invited over for lunch one day and was served chicken in orange sauce by Mrs. Holmes. A wonderful family who I remember with great memories.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Les and I visited Gretchen, Chris, and our grandchildren, Jack and Lizzy in Salem yesterday. They have a gorgeous new home in the hills of West Salem. Jack was miserable with allergies but it is always fun to see the kids and spend time with them.

Gretchen is only $1,500 away from meeting her fundraising goal for Liberty House. A check from the Roth family came in last week for $10,000. Another hero in Salem! When I think of the name Roth, I think green. Green is the main color theme in their chain of grocery stores. I also think of great chocolate frosted donuts, which I enjoyed when I lived in Salem and shopped at Roths. I also think of the great Salem hero, Orville Roth who is the major financial contributor for the Children's Garden at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. When I went through the Master Gardening program in Salem in 1999, I learned of his plans and later saw the spectacular results. His program funds trips to students in public school classes from all over Oregon to visit the Oregon Garden each year. I believe it's in the 5th grade.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Apprentice Finale

I just finished one of my Year to Success assignments on Bo Bennett's website at and saw Donald Trump's name recommending this inspirational course. It reminded me of the Apprentice.

I watched the Apprentice season finale a couple of days ago. I enjoy watching Donald Trump and learning from him. It's rare that you have the opportunity to see someone react, give advice, and instruct who is a master at what he does. When most people think of business, Donald Trump comes to mind.

It was a great show with Sean and Lee battling to the end but Sean had the edge. Lee was a little too trusting, laid back, not as prepared. He's brilliant though and graduated from Cornell with a 4. Sean has an equally great background with added corporate experience with successful multimillion dollar deals. Lee helped to organize an event for Denis Leary and the New York Firefighters and Sean organized a Bare Naked Ladies concert. That's how much I know about current music groups. I had heard of this group but I had no idea what they were about.

It was a special treat to see Donald Trump's children on the show who both graduated from the Wharton School of Finance. I believe it's from the University of Pennsylvania. Both were outstanding and beautiful young people. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Sean will manage the new Soho 50 story condominium hotel in New York City. Such a deal! To have the opportunity to learn from Donald Trump and the chance to have it all. Congratulations, Sean!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quilting and Scrapbooking on the Computer

Last night I attending an excellent free workshop sponsored by Hewlett Packard at Quilt Work Patches in Corvallis. Joe Hesch a former engineer with HP was the guest speaker who I've seen on television. He demonstrated and gave great answers to questions about the ease of scrapbooking on the computer using a software program he developed called SCRAPBOOK ASSISTANT for only $29.99, which is a bargain after I saw all the features. It's possible to bring photos into different shapes, create different backgrounds using photos, and put photos in photos. Another software program called QUILT SMART PHOTO SHAPE for $39 allows a quilter to create a double wedding ring wall hanging or quilt project by putting photos in the arc, printing on fabric paper, and sewing to your project. The software MONTAGE allows a collage of photos to create one big photo for a wall hanging.

Joe Hesch demonstrated creating silk scarves with your own precious photographs using SILK ON A ROLL with paper backing. The effect and color was brilliant to make a custom gift with great meaning for family and friends.

He wrote two books that are for sale, PHOTO FUN and MORE PHOTO FUN. Another book will be coming out soon called, POSTERIZE IT. Go to for the books or buy them at your local quilt store with all the tools and supplies.

I learned about fabric sheets that you can buy at your local quilt store to use for special projects, like placemats, napkins, skirts, fabric for dresses, craft projects. He showed us that it's possible to print on wood veneer for special wood crafts and gifts.

It was packed in the room to hear Joe Hesch and everyone received great information on how to use your printer, computer, and the tools to make special gifts in a short time using priceless photos. Everyone enjoyed hearing his family stories about Minnesota, his dog, his older sisters, his proud mother who attends quilting guild meetings, and to see all his quilting projects. My Dad was born in Winthrop, Minnesota so it was fun to hear the stories. It was a great evening and I'm glad I went since I learned so much about using your computer to print on fabric.

Weight Watcher Wednesday

Milk was the topic at Weight Watchers today. In addition to providing the calcium needed for bones and teeth, it provides protein, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin D, and helps you lose weight. Dairy products help to regulate your heart beat, helps reduce bone loss, helps transmit nerve impulses, helps muscles contract, and prevents osteoporosis. After menopause, the acceleration of bone loss goes way up so that's why women over 50 need three servings a day.

What constitutes a good dairy choice? Yogurt, cheese, nonfat or lowfat milk, cottage cheese, pudding, hot chocolate made with milk. Tips for adding more dairy to your diet are consider eating cheese and milk as a snack, add cheese to a sandwich, freeze yogurt and smoothies, use milk in soups and on cereal.

The latest research shows that eating yogurt promotes weight loss. I love yogurt. I eat the nonfat kind that is 4 points. I also eat string cheese. I rarely drink a glass of milk but I think I need to reconsider this. With all the benefits of milk and dairy products, I need to make sure I eat my three servings a day.

At the meeting today there were three women who lost 25 pounds. One lost 10 pounds and several lost their first 5 pounds. One young mother reached her 10% goal and reached the 16 week goal. I heard testimonials today from several Weight Watchers that the Core Program fills them up so they aren't hungry and they are successful at reaching their weight loss goals.

Meetings are always an inspiration. Nancy, our leader, said that Weight Watchers who are consistent in attending meetings find three times the success as those who weigh in and leave.

I lost .4 pounds this week to make up for the gain of .4 pounds last week. I'm back on track. I had a bout with cake and ice cream during the week that threatened my progress but I'm okay now.

My exercise for the week looks like this:
One hour Hydrofit in the deep water and one hour Fit for Life with weights.
Saturday through Tuesday
Gardening and housework
30 minutes swim with snorkel and 10 minutes NuStep
Total Body Sculpt with Gilad on FitTV
30 minutes exercise bike, 45 minutes snorkel in pool, and Gilad's Body in Motion on FitTV

Friday, June 02, 2006

Author Within

I critiqued a young adult YA novel manuscript for Joan Stradling, a gifted writer, a couple of weeks ago. It was a quick read, a page-turner, a manuscript that you didn't want to put down because you wanted to see what would happen next. Joan has a winner on her hands. A fantasy adventure that is masterfully crafted to take the reader into the story.

Joan is a master storyteller. Her description takes the reader into the story with sensory details and the pacing of an adventure. I'm excited for her success that is to come in the future. I can see many books ahead for her. I'm proud to have had the opportunity to read her manuscript. Congratulations, Joan! I look forward to seeing it in bookstores and buying a copy.

Her blog is at

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Liberty House

One of the heroes of Salem is my daughter, Gretchen Bennett who is the Executive Director of Liberty House in Salem, Oregon. She works tirelessly to "stop the hurt" of the abused child. The website is Liberty House is a center where cases of suspected child abuse and neglect are helped by trained professionals sensitive to the special needs of the child.

Dick Withnell of Salem, a local car dealer and community leader has given the Board at Liberty House a challenge to raise $35,000. by the end of June. If they are successful without Gretchen's help, he will match the donations with his own check for $35,000. Dick Withnell is a true hero who makes a difference to help children.

More heroes in Salem.... So far this week, Walt Beglau from the Marion County District Attorney's Office walked through the door with a check for $6,000. Pietro's Pizza, where I remember enjoying lots of pizza, pledged a donation of $5,000. The Salem Elks donated $2,000. Let's see what other heroes there are in Salem who care about children and will come forward to help this great cause.

In looking at the list of the Board members of Liberty House, I see that Tim Murphy from Salem Hospital is the Chair and President of the Liberty Board. That contact alone should bring in the money. If I remember correctly, Salem Hospital is THE largest employer in Salem or at least used to be. With all the doctors and nurses who should care about this issue, it should be a piece of cake for Mr. Murphy to walk in with a big check.

Maybe there are other wealthy community members, like Dick Withnell, who will also meet the challenge of matching his donation of $35,000. Another great fund raiser for Liberty House would be to raffle off a new car. Everyone wants to win a new car and I can see a long line of people to buy tickets. Maybe enough money will be raised so that every child's needs who are abused in the Salem area will be met plus money left over for prevention.

Gretchen would make a great guest on the Oprah Show. I know that the issue of child abuse is important to Oprah and she cares. Maybe Oprah would consider making a donation to Liberty House.

I'm sure that the Liberty House Board will live up to the challenge. Gretchen inspires loyalty and trust. I remember when Gretchen brought back the trophies in debate for Lewis and Clark College in Portland. Her skill as a facilitator, grant writer, and administrator are equal to all the greats across this country. She works hard and has the courage to stand up for difficult issues. You go girl!