Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weather Report

It's snowing! While October snowfall is not unknown here in Eastern Oregon, it is uncommon and deserving of comment. It won't stick, the air temperature is 40 degrees and the ground isn't frozen. It is pretty, the snowflakes drifting down are always magical. The earliest snow that I remember was the year it snowed for the opening of Pheasant season in mid-October. We hunted in 3 inches of wet snow that year, and we have had a few snowy Halloweens as well. However, the usual pattern is for snow at Thanksgiving and it sticks. Sometimes we have snow on the ground from Thanksgiving until mid-March. Sometimes, especially lately, we have no snow at all. All of which brings up the idea of Global Warming. I read the other day that interest in Global Warming is waning, I'm not sure why. All of the evidence points towards cataclysmic results if Global Warming is not reversed, yet people are still disputing the reality. I'm sure that I'll hear some yo-yo use today's snowfall as evidence that Global Warming is a myth. They'll say something like, "so much for Global Warming". I'm not concerned for myself, but I am for my children and especially my grandchildren.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tamarack Colors

We went to Canyon City today for a service at St. Thomas. It was a great day for a drive, the Aspen trees are in their best fall colors and the Tamarack trees have turned as well. For those who aren't familiar with Tamarack or Western Larch, they are evergreen trees that lose their needles in the Fall. Like deciduous trees, they turn color, in this case a bright yellow gold, before their needles fall. In the spring the needles grow back in a light green and turn a darker green as the summer progresses. They are quite striking, so we took some pictures. I love digital cameras.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I got a GPS system for my birthday. Actually I saved a number of gift cards a bought a Magellan Maestro. I can't wait to use it. We aren't doing much traveling right now so I will have to try it out on my well known route to Canyon City. At least I will know if it is working right since I Already know where I'm going. It could come in handy next spring when we help Cathy and Pam move back to Oregon.

On another note, I see that some of the Dem Senators are balking on a government option on health care. We should do all in our power to defeat anyone who opposes meaning health care reform. If we could get them out of the drug companies and health care insurance companies pockets maybe we could get something going.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nostalgia Again

This past weekend Jean and I attended our Diocesan Convention in Klamath Falls in South Central Oregon. Our trip to Klamath Falls took us through Christmas Valley in Northern Lake County which brought back a flood of memories. In August of 1951 my grand parents, my father, my brother Bruce and I took a Saturday drive into the High Desert east of Bend to scout for antelope. My grandfather had drawn a tag for antelope and he thought it would be a good idea to scout the desert to find a good place to hunt. We turned south off Highway 20 and went through the Lost Forest and continued south. We did spot some antelope and paced them at about 45 mph down the dirt track road we were on. That proved to be a mistake because as we bounced down that dusty desert road we hit a rock which punctured the oil pan of the car. Fortunately, Granddad noticed the loss of oil pressure and stopped before any damage was done to his nearly new Plymouth. However, we were stranded on the high desert of Eastern Oregon with little chance of rescue by a passerby. We had seen nobody on our travels after we turned off Highway 20. My Mom and my brother Emery knew we were on the desert, but had no idea of exactly where. The high desert of Eastern Oregon is all over 4500 feet in elevation and covers an area of over 1000 square miles. We assessed our situation and it didn't look good; we had eaten our lunch and little was left, the same was true for water. There was a windmill visible about 3 miles away so Bruce and I and Granddad decided to walk to it in hopes there was a ranch there. My Dad, who had only one leg, and Granny would stay with the car in case somebody came by. We hiked to the windmill and found only stock tanks filled with green smelly water which Granddad drank but Bruce and I refused. A sign labeled the spot as Buffalo Wells. On the same sign post was a sign pointing east saying "Wagontire 32 miles" and one pointing west saying "Silverlake 36 miles and beneath that one saying "Lake 7 miles". There were no fresh tire tracks on the dirt road, but we opted for Lake hoping there would be a service station available. As we trudged up the road every hill had us expecting a car or the town of Lake. We finally came to a sign pointing south saying "Matlack Ranch 1 mile" and decided that he ranch would be the best option. We got to the ranch and were greeted by the friendly ranchers who told us they had moved into the empty ranch the previous day! The water from the pitcher pump smelled just like the Buffalo Wells water, but it tasted wonderful. The ranchers took their truck out and towed the car into the ranch and fashioned a plug for the oil pan. They fed us, filled the car with oil, gave us 5 gallons of oil and sent us on our way. During dinner they told us it was good that we didn't go to Lake because is was just a dry lake bed, they were the only ranch in the area. Granddad drove us to Bend at a breakneck speed, pausing only long enough to put more oil in the car when the oil pressure went down. We made it home safely with no damage to the car much to the relief of all.

All those memories came rushing back as we drove through Christmas Valley, the town built on the dry lake bed once known as Lake. Now there is a real town with electricity, paved roads and a golf course. I stopped and took a picture of the power line that transformed the desert into an oasis. There's been a real change in the last 50 years.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Global Warming

Today is Blog Action Day and 1000's of bloggers are writing about Global Warming. Much like the Y2K crisis, Global Warming has been slow to pick up concern about the threat to life here on Earth. However, unlike Y2K, Global Warming is not a problem that can be solved with last minute action by dedicated workers working overtime to fix things. We must start now to do all that we can to slow global warming until a long term solution can be found. Despite the naysayers with their junk science and the "know nothings" who look at a cold winter and say the problem is non-existent, Global Warming is a fact and can only accelerate without intervention. One only has to look at the retreating glaciers and the melting polar ice caps to realize that Global Warming is real. The question should not be; "Is man the cause of Global Warming?" but rather; "What can we do to slow or reverse the trend?" I urge everyone to take up the crusade.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Diocesean Convention

The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon had its 39th annual convention this past weekend in Klamath Falls. K Falls is a 350 mile drive from home so it was really a flying trip for us especially with the time change. We left before noon on Friday and arrived in K Falls at 5 pm with only a stop for lunch in Burns. Skipped Eucharist on Sunday and left around 11 am. Arrived home at 6 pm. We spent a lot of time in the car for about 8 hours of convention time. Nonetheless, it was a great convention. In Jean's words, the energy has shifted 180 degrees. Our new Provisional Bishop, Nedi Rivera, is a wonderful addition for us. she hasn't formed a lot of plans for us, which is good after 7 years of a control freak for a bishop. I sense good things to come, I think she's ready to work with us in forming a vision of our reclaimed diocese. We might even go back to our vision before the train wreck of the past 7 years. I almost ran for Council, but my 70th birthday on Saturday convinced me to let some of the young turks have a go at it. At any rate, I think we're on the right track again.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rural vs Urban Culture

We watched Oregon Field Guide on OPB this evening and they devoted the entire half hour to a program that puts middle school students from the Portland area on ranches in the John Day Valley. The program was started in response to the students' speaking out in favor of wolf re-introduction into Eastern Oregon. It seems that the ranchers in Eastern Oregon felt that the kids had been brainwashed by environmentalists and they wanted a chance to let the kids see their side of things. It was an interesting program, the kids spend a week living with a ranching family doing all the things done on a ranch in February. The kids worked right alongside the rancher, helping with feeding, calving, vaccinating, and all then 101 other things that go on at a working cattle ranch. The kids seemed to enjoy it and gain a better understanding of where their food comes from. The kids were pretty wise, pointing out that there was little or no recycling in the area, something one girl called, "a slap in mother nature's face". I'm sure that they could teach the folks in the John Day Valley a thing or two. After all, we're all in this thing together.

The one thing that I didn't see was any explanation of the ranchers' hatred of wolves. Wolf predation is an economic blow to the livestock grower, but The Department of Fish and Wildlife reimburses ranchers for losses to wolf predation. In Yellowstone Park the wolf population has helped make a stronger big game population mainly by reducing the number of sick and weak animals and forcing them to move around the area more. Biologists are finally beginning to see that a diverse wildlife population is necessary for a healthy ecology.

I did see my friend Dennis on the show. He spoke very intelligently (unlike some others on the show) about the need for understanding and working together. That always works better than screaming epithets at people who differ with you.