Friday, August 31, 2007

Home Away From Home

We have a new home! It's a home that we will take with us for many get-aways and adventures in the future. After looking and planning and dreaming and 'scheming' for a long time we bought a travel trailer that will be our home in a lot of different places. We are busy packing and outfitting it for a trip that was planned before we knew we would have our little home on wheels and we will leave later today for a fun weekend with family.

Here is what our home-for-adventure looks like. This is the way we first saw it at the home of the sweet people who sold it to us. They were so kind and generous to us, giving us many accessories that make our little palace-on-wheels safe, useable and comfortable. We bought this little jewel two days ago but we didn't bring it home until yesterday. We needed to take care of the business that goes along with things like this - insurance, a special trailer brake control installed inside our car and mirrors that will let us see if someone is 'sneaking' up behind us on the road. During that time we planned, shopped and packed totes and boxes of things so we could move in as soon as it was in our driveway. I've had fun gathering odds and ends of things at the Goodwill and discount stores so we have some of the things needed to help us enjoy our stay when we're on the road. I have had to fight the tendency to 'decorate' it - I haven't had time in two days to take care of all of the necessities plus the fun things that will make it uniquely ours. So - there will be more fun in the future! An excuse for more garage sales and thrifting expeditions! I can't wait to share some of my trailer finds with you but that will have to wait for another day.

In years past, when our children were young, we spent many hours camping in a tent. We have such fun memories of those times together. My sweetheart has continued to camp in the tent for some of his hunting expeditions and with our grandsons but as time went by we knew it was time to fold the tent and move on to something else. The last two days have been interesting and have brought back a lot of memories as we brought all of the camping equipment into the house, sorted, tossed, reminisced and laughed a lot. Some of those things have been moved into the trailer; others will find new homes and just be part of our memories. A look at the floorplan of our new 'home' reminds us how small our tent was when it was filled with the four of us and a good-sized dog. Especially when it was pouring rain outside! This isn't a large trailer but it's perfect for the two of us - that's all that matters!

We will leave home in a few hours - headed for the Oregon Coast where we will meet some of my sweetheart's family for the weekend ahead. All of them have trailers and we were going to be the only ones in a tent. We haven't told them about our new trailer. We can't wait to drive into the campground and see the looks of surprise on their faces when they see what we have. (Right after we bought the trailer my sweetheart called the campground and changed our 'tent' reservation to a 'trailer' reservation.) We will be in the camp site next to my sweetheart's sister and her husband - neighbors for a few days! What fun we will have!

I will be away from here for a few days but, oh, what tales I will have to tell when I return. Until then - may you have a safe and restful weekend.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Courtroom!

My last two posts have been about my experience as a juror on a court case this week. I just can't leave this subject without sharing a funny experience I had on the way to the courtroom on Wednesday morning. It didn't seem too funny at the time. A bit embarrassing.

Each time court reconvened we met in the Jury Assembly Room in an adjoining building. Shortly before time for court to begin the Court Clerk came next door, checked the sign-in sheet and counted noses to be sure we were all there. Then he took us to the courthouse where we went through airport-type security and he led us upstairs to the Jury Room just off the courtroom where he left us until the judge asked him to take us into court. The Jury Room adjacent to the courtroom has 2 small restrooms - something we all appreciated, especially during our hours of deliberation yesterday.

Wednesday morning while we waited in the Jury Room several of our group used the restrooms. Close to the time we expected to enter the courtroom I knew I should the same. I turned to the people seated near me and said, "At the risk of holding up the schedule, I'm going to the restroom." Just a couple of minutes later when I opened the restroom door the Jury Room was completely empty! They were gone! I had been left in the restroom and now they were all in the courtroom. What should I do now? Should I open the door next to the jury box, near the witness stand, and just march into court? Had the judge seated the alternate in my seat? At the risk of doing the wrong thing I opened the door.
All eyes in the courtroom were on me! The judge, the court clerk, all of the attorneys, the plaintiff, the defendant and the entire group seated in the gallery. I quietly stepped into the room and walked across the front of the jury box, passed the witness on the witness stand, excused myself as I walked in front of the alternate juror, stepped across the two jurors seated at the end near my seat and quickly took my seat -- right in the MIDDLE of the front row! Fortunately the judge had not begun proceedings. (Later I was told that he had noted the absence of one juror and had waited just seconds before my head appeared out the door of the Jury Room.) I'm sure this isn't the first time this has happened. The Court Clerk knew he had taken 13 jurors in the Jury Room. What he had failed to do was to make sure no one was in either of the restrooms.

As soon as we entered the Jury Room during our next break I said (loud enough to be heard by most of the jurors, "I am going to the restroom - don't leave me in there again!" It never happened again. Every time the Court Clerk entered the Jury Room to take us into court he was sure to do a head count!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Free At Last To Resume Life

Juror 36, you are are released from service to the court of the State of Oregon! Sweeter words could not have been said to me today! Finished - task completed - mission accomplished - free now to go back to real life.
I didn't feel the impact of those words until I walked out of the courtroom and removed my juror button that has been part of my wardrobe accessories for the past four days. Somehow I felt lighter without this round, pink button on my shoulder. I answered the call when summoned, I listened attentively as attorneys and witnesses tried to convince me of the truths they wanted me to believe, I responded when appropriate and I was free to walk away today and resume life as it was before Tuesday morning. But can I really ever resume life as it was before this week? I doubt it. I will carry away the lessons I've learned and the experience I've gained and I will view life from a different perspective than before.
What did we feel we learned? Get EVERYTHING in writing - and take pictures of EVERYTHING you do! Don't assume anything. Talk to the people involved before you act. Try to work things out before they get out of hand and you meet in court. Ours was a civil case - a dispute between two wealthy men who had, at one time owned neighboring properties. The dispute centered on the right one man believed the law gave him to remove a big, old Douglas fir tree that blocked his view of the river below and of Mount Hood in the distance from his neighbor's undeveloped property. The man whose tree was cut believed the law didn't give his neighbor that right. In the end it was 12 people in a small room today who decided that the law was indeed broken and damages were due the other man. Agreeing on the amount of damages owed was a challenge - the parameters were wide and opinions varied greatly. In the end we came to a place of consent.
Immediately following the trial the judge met us in the jury room to express his thanks, answer our questions and discuss anything we would like to know. Our first question: Do you feel we were right? Were we fair? His answer: Yes, you were right - you were very fair. We have been invited to come back any time to sit in chambers with the judge and talk to him. He wants to learn from us and he values us as citizens who were willing to give of our lives to make this system work. When he asked what he could do to make things better for members of the jury, we answered - almost in unison - "get new chairs!" Which, by the way, are on order. He is a very laid back, fair judge and we appreciate the way he looked out for us and the care his staff showed us.
As I look back on this week I realize that the best part of it all was the people - people who were doing their jobs to pull it all together and make the due process of the law go smoothly and eleven people who shared a week of their lives with me. We shared some incredibly funny stories as we waited together and we have come to know a little bit of each other's worlds and perspectives. We seemed to have a sense of sadness as we told each other goodbye and drove away. What a nice thing to hear - "I'm very glad I got to meet you!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just Doin' My Duty!

I may be away from here for a few days. I was summoned for jury duty. Today at nearly the last minute, when it looked like I would get to come home, I was added to the prospective jury pool in one of the courtrooms. Following the process of the legal system I was seated as a juror for a trial that is expected to last all week. Fortunately the courthouse has changed from the artist's rendition of the former courthouse above. I'm sure it would not be set up for the modern technology and conveniences that today's court system requires.

The current courthouse was built in 1937 and has undergone several major renovations through the years. I will spend the next few days in the newly remodeled, recently dedicated courthouse that serves the citizens of our ever-growing county.

I would like to spend my lunch hours taking incredible pictures of the area surrounding the courthouse but, since I'm not allowed to take a camera into the courthouse, I may have to go back after this trial is over and just wander around the area with no schedule and no agenda - just to take photos of things that capture my attention. In the meantime I will do my best to be alert and pay attention to all of the testimony and exhibits presented and to be fair to the individuals involved. When the due process of the law has been accomplished I will return to share bits and pieces of my life once again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

High Above The Trees

Over the last two weeks I have shared about the wonderful trip we took with our out-of-state family. We had a wonderful day trip together, sharing the beauty and history of our area with them. We drove through the Columbia River Gorge, along a historic highway, stood on the shores of the Columbia River and loved every minute of our drive around Mount Hood. This is the final part of that journey to share - I think it was my favorite!

Nestled midway to the summit of Mt. Hood is Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark and masterpiece of mountain lodges. Constructed of mammoth timbers and native stone in 1937, Timberline Lodge stands today as a tribute to the rugged spirit of the Pacific Northwest.*

Timberline (as the locals call it) is on the south side of the mountain, about 60 miles east of Portland. This is a popular tourist attraction where more than a million visitors come each year. The lodge was built entirely by hand - inside and out - at the height of the Depression. It was built by unemployed craftspeople hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration. It is a wonderful monument to the talents of local artists and craftsmen who used materials of the area to express the spirit of the mountain.

Architects provided for even the tiniest decorative detail, using three themes to illustrate regional heritage: hand-hewn timbers and hand-crafted furnishings to pay tribute to early pioneers, carved wood and wrought iron designs to capture the Indian spirit, and carvings of animals and paintings of wildflowers to represent wildlife native to Mt. Hood.*
A broad sloping roof rising up to a central point was designed to harmonize with the shape of the mountain and its ridges. Stone buttressed walls and massive timbers were planned to withstand heavy alpine winds and deeps snows. Blueprints included huge observation windows to bring the mountain and surrounding valleys "into" the lodge.

Wooden salmon sculpture

silouetted against the view of the mountain above

(The terrace below was being set up for a wedding!)

The interior of the lodge is amazing! The craftsmanship and decor throughout each area is perfect for this special place on the mountain.

Hand-carved stairways seen through stone archways

Massive hand-hewn timbers join the stone chimney

Doorway into Blue Ox Bar

(The back wall is a huge stained-glass rendition

of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox)

Mount Jefferson (seen through the doorway of the 2nd-story stone terrace)

Timberline Lodge is a fascinating place to visit. I plan to return again, perhaps sometime in the winter when the snow is deep and winter has changed the views. Perhaps my wintertime visits will be reserved for rainy days in the valley below by way of beautiful books and photos of those more adventurous than I! No matter how or when, I know that I will return to this place above the trees again in the future - if not personally, in my heart.

*with gratitude to Timberline Lodge

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty,
my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.

Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coming 'Round The Mountain!

Over the past two weeks I have shared our recent trip with family through the Columbia River Gorge, along a historic old highway and our stop in Hood River. I have always loved the mountains and wish I could live where I could see them from my window. Until that might happen, if it ever does, I will just enjoy the mountains whenever I have a chance to see them. My favorite mountain is nearly 'in my backyard' - Mount Hood. As we turned south, away from the Columbia River, we soon had a full view of the mountain. We stopped several times along the way to take pictures or to take a closer look with the help of our binoculars.

We stopped at a popular ski resort that is closed during the summer months. The view of the mountain is worth the short drive off the highway. Through our binoculars we could see many ski lifts standing silent and alone in the summer sunlight.Back on the highway, continuing around the mountain, we soon came to a historic place. We drove a few miles on an old highway that took us through the woods to a place where we stopped to see a pioneer woman's grave. In 1924 survey crews building the Mount Hood Loop Highway discovered the grave of a pioneer woman buried in a wooden box. The simple grave was marked by a wagon tongue. There is no headstone, but rocks have been piled on the grave by visitors as a memorial. Each time we visit this place my heart is touched by thoughts of the struggles the pioneers faced as they traveled to this beautiful land I call home. I was very moved to see that someone had recently put fresh roses on this lady's forest grave.
Not far from here we turned and began our ascent up the mountain to visit Timberline Lodge, a famous historic Lodge that attracts many visitors each year. I will share that part of our trip soon in another post.

After that 'side trip' we began our descent down the mountain toward home. One final stop on the side of the mountain challenged our legs, our hearts and our lungs but it was worth the climb to see a spot that is beyond my imagination. Laurel Hill is named after the native rhododendron foliage that resembled laurel leaves. Laurel Hill was the horrific descent off the southern slope of Mount Hood. Oxen were usually able to anchor the wagons on most declines, but they could not withstand the strain of this hill. Wagons had to be lowered by ropes tied to large trees and lashed to trees and stumps to slow the descent. Some of the pioneers dismantled their wagons and sent them skidding down the chute like a sled. I can't imagine the fear this must have caused in the hearts of the travelers who had chosen this route through the mountains rather than the more treacherous route on the Columbia River where they would have to deal with many fierce and swift rapids before arriving in the valley beyond.

The pathway to see the chute begins with carefully laid steps up a steep incline to the trail above. Once at the top of the steps we walked along a section of the old, now-abandoned Columbia Loop Highway. Asphalt is still in place on part of this trail and, if you look closely, you can see a bit of the old yellow line peeking through.

Farther down the trail we came to the site of a chute where the wagons were lowered from far above our heads to the forest floor far below where we stood. You may be able to see the top of the chute where the sky shows through the trees. It is hard to capture the full impact in a picture. We opted out of the chance to hike to the top of the chute by way of another upward trail. Instead we found large flat rocks where we sat to rest and eat the snacks we had carried up the hill with us. Crackers, cheese, fruit and water taste much better on the side of a mountain while enjoying the fresh, open air! Returning to our car we were thankful for the wonderful highway with a gradual slope that helped us descend the mountain safely. One last look at the mountain brought the same response from each of us: "We had a good time - it was such a good day together!"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Winds of the Mighty Columbia

I have shared here and here about the trip we took through some of the beauty of Oregon with family from out of state recently. We drove east from Portland, stopping along the way a few times before we arrived in Hood River, a picturesque town on the south banks of the mighty Columbia River.

Hood River is known as the windsurfing capital of the world. Before this sport arrived here this area was best known as a rich agricultural spot - growing luscious apples, pears, cherries, peaches and other fruits, and for the view of the majestic snow capped peak of Mt. Hood. The fruit is still grown and processed here but usually it's the action on the river that captures the attention of the casual observer. Hood River has become the destination of choice for wind surfers from around the world. Stiff prevailing winds from the Columbia River Gorge - best during the middle of the day - and the Columbia’s strong river currents combine to create a kind of wind tunnel that makes for world-class windsurfing and kitesurfing conditions. It's not necessary to participate in this sport to enjoy it. You can watch the "boardheads" at play from Columbia Gorge Sailpark or from several public areas along the waterfront.
We stopped on the shores of the Columbia River to watch the action on the waves and we were intrigued with what we saw.

A small part of the action

A windsurfer

A kitesurfer

As I stood on the banks of the river and watched the surfers above an older lady walked over and stood near me. I spoke to her and she told me she was 80 years old and her 84-year-old husband was watching from the car behind us. They are intrigued and fascinated by the sport and they go there often to watch the activity. She said she wishes this sport had been part of their town 50 years ago because she would have been out there on the waves! She stood and watched and longed to experience the thrill that seemed to fill the hearts of the participants.

A few minutes later an old pickup parked nearby and my sweetheart and I, along with our family, watched two young men unload their equipment. We walked over to where they were assembling their gear and watched in amazement. We were fascinated and began to ask questions. This young man and his buddy told us a lot of basic information about windsurfing. They told us some things to watch for and how to spot the difference between a novice and pro. We followed them to the edge of the water and observed as they became part of the action on the water.

An up-close and personal lesson

Into the water

Nearly ready

Riding the waves at last

We watched until the pair were out of sight and when we drove away from the river that day we were a bit wiser and understood more about what we had just seen. If you ever stand on the banks of the river and watch the windsurfers you won't see us out there - but we might be standing somewhere nearby, watching and learning a bit more about the fascination of riding the waves of the Mighty Columbia River!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Along An Old Highway

Last week I shared here about the visit of family from out-of-state and about our wonderful day trip together. I shared about the Historic Columbia River Highway and our visit to Vista House at Crown Point high above the Columbia River Gorge. As we continued driving east on the old highway we stopped at one of the many impressive waterfalls that can be seen from the road. Nearby, a wonderful old bridge caught my eye and captured my attention. I love the design detail and the texture of the old concrete and moss.Down the road a ways we came to Multnomah Falls, Oregon's most visited outdoor destination - the 2nd highest waterfall in the United States. Nearly two million visitors come to see the waterfall every year! The falls are fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain. Seasonal rains and snowmelt result in heavy winter and spring water flow and lighter flow in the dry summer months. For the first few years of our marriage we lived about an hour east of the falls. We never lost the sense of wonder and amazement as we viewed the falls each time we drove to Portland. You should see it in the winter! It's absolutely spectacular when it is full and overflowing and when it is surrounded by snow. But it nearly takes your breath away when freezing temperatures cause some of the spray of the water to freeze into giant icicles cascading down the rocky bluff. A U.S. Forest Service brochure describes it best: "Winter turns the Falls and cliff face to a towering crystal edifice."A short hike up a well-maintained trail took us to the Benson Bridge that was built to replace a log bridge built by the railroad in the 19th century. A viewpoint along the trail provides an incredible view of the top of the falls.The bridge was built in 1914 to allow visitors to cross the falls between the upper and lower cascades. The trail continues beyond the bridge allowing hikers to climb to the top of the falls. The view from the bridge is spectacular.A look up from the courtyard near the lodge gives a glimpse of the top of the falls.A few minutes down the road we found a picnic table beside Horsetail Falls - a picturesque place to enjoy our picnic lunch together.The breathtaking view from our lunch table and the sounds of the falling water made our lunchtime very special.While we ate lunch a train slowly came into view just across the parking lot from where we sat.After lunch our trip continued as we drove east to another special place. I'll share more of our trip and the sights we saw with you soon. Until then, if you are near our corner of the world I hope you can visit some of the places we enjoyed on our day with our family.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Just As I Am

Just As I Am
Words by Charlotte Elliott
Music by William B. Bradbury

Without question, this hymn has touched more hearts and influenced more people for Christ than any other song ever written. The words were written by an invalid woman who wrote these words out of intense feelings of uselessness and despair.

Charlotte Elliott was born in 1789 in England. As a young person she was carefree and she gained popularity as a portrait artist and writer of humorous verse. By the time she was thirty, however, her health began to fail rapidly, and soon she was bedridden - an invalid for the remaining years of her life. Her failing health brought feelings of deep despondency. In 1822 Dr. Caesar Malan, a noted Swiss evangelist, visited the Elliott home. His visit was a turning point in Charlotte's life. While counseling Miss Elliott about her spiritual and emotional problems, Dr. Malan impressed on her the truth that "You must come just as you are, a sinner, to the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." Every year, for the rest of her life, Miss Elliott celebrated the day on which her Swiss friend had led her to a personal relationship with Christ. It is apparent that she never forgot the words of her friend, for they are at the heart of this hymn that she wrote 14 years later.

Charlotte Elliott’s brother, Rev. Elliott, was planning to build a school for daughters of clergymen. Miss Elliott wrote the text for "Just As I Am" with the desire that it might help financially. As she thought of her weakness, she realized that since salvation was not of works, her Christian life was also to be by faith and trust and that God accepts the weakest person. Taking up her pen, she wrote this hymn of commitment. It is interesting to note that this one hymn from the pen of the clergyman's invalid sister brought in more funds than all of his bazaars and projects combined. In later years her brother said, "In the course of a long ministry, I hope to have been permitted to see some fruit of my labors; but I feel more has been done by a single hymn of my sister's."

Charlotte Elliott wrote approximately 150 hymns. After her death more than a thousand letters were found among her papers from individuals around the world expressing what this one hymn had meant in their lives. Only eternity will reveal the vast number of people whose lives have been dramatically changed through the use of this one hymn from the pen of an invalid woman. It is a hymn that should be used more often than just as an invitational number at the close of a service. Its message is one that we need to be reminded of frequently - our eternal standing and peace with God depends solely on Christ's merits and not our own.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Just Being 'Neighborly'!

My dear mother and I are off to Oregon City, 9 miles from our town, to shop at the 11th Annual McLoughlin Neighborhood Sale. There are over 300 families participating at 80+ sites throughout the historic district of Oregon City. (Only 57 sales are open today!) We have enjoyed this event the last two years and we have our sale maps and walking shoes on – we are ready to go!

Dr. John McLoughlin's Home
(in the heart of the historic district)

Oregon City was the first incorporated city west of the Mississippi. It was established in 1829 by Dr. John McLoughlin as a lumber mill near Willamette Falls and later designated as the first capital of the Oregon Territory and the cradle of American government in the Northwest.

Willamette Falls

(For another breaktaking view of the falls - go here)

Dr. McLoughlin is known as the Father of Oregon. He was a Canadian born chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company and a firm supporter of settlers who wished Oregon to be independent from England. He is credited with starting Oregon City.

Oregon City is also the home to the traditional End of the Oregon Trail. Many of the wagon trains disbanded on Abernethy Green in Oregon City. Today the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - a museum devoted to the history of the Oregon Trail - stands on this site. This area is rich with history and natural beauty. We are so fortunate to live here!

Photos courtesy of