Monday, May 19, 2014

Bubble Bubble, This is Trouble

This "Carp O'Diem" aired on Portland Radio Project on May 19, 2014.  You can go to that website listen to the audio and download and even share it!  

It drew a heavy mail, well, heavy for me anyway, mostly from people who believe global warming is a hoax.  As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." 

I'm just reporting what the USDA put in my new growing guide. 

"It was ninety-one degrees here in Portland last Wednesday. Now I feel really like a slacker for not getting my peas in, especially since according to the new USDA’s growing guide, Portland just got bumped from zone 7 to 8, which is warmer. So I could have planted my peas a long time ago. I thought something was up when I heard that we’ve got enough olives growing in the Willamette Valley to warrant an olive oil festival. As a matter of fact, according to the Washington Post, the new growing guide shifted the kinds of plants that need warm weather north all over the country. I must be a curmudgeon, because being able to find Hood strawberries at the farmer’s market three weeks early doesn’t make me happy. I think it’s scary.

Sure, the Midwest is having a long winter – but that’s the difference between weather and global climate change. As a whole, the planet is warming up. Now it’s something you can see. Big chunks of ice melting. Big! Like polar ice caps and Antarctic sheets.

And I’m not irritated about that, because well, how can you be irritated about your home planet turning into Waterworld? And running around screaming doesn’t seem to do any good. I tried that, yesterday.

Time to believe the back of your seed packet. It’s here. It’s happening. And whether or not it’s our fault, it’s time to figure out what to do about it."

Monday, May 12, 2014

People Lie Down, Chickens Lay Eggs

I’m not a grammar grouch. Okay, I am a grammar grouch. And I’ve got just one grammar-related thing to say.
I’ve been waiting for somebody, Noam Chomsky or the President, SOMEBODY, to make an announcement, but apparently they’re not going to. So this is my grammar public service announcement.

You don’t LAY down, people. You LIE down. “To lay” means “to put.” If you say “I’m going to lay down,” you just said, “I’m going to put down.” Put down what? You need to say what you are laying down, even if it’s just yourself. “I lay myself down on the couch!” “To lie” means to rest or recline, or to tell a fib. Here’s an easy way to remember it. People lie down, chickens lay eggs. Now, if you lay down yesterday, that’s OK, because it’s past tense. If you lay something down, that’s OK, because you put something down.

You can tell a lie, and you can lie down.  

Got it? Thank you.

I’m going to go LIE down now.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Report

I am having one of the most wonderful Mother's Days ever.  The sun is shining.  Ed is upstairs folding laundry and vaccuming.  A  former college roommate, visiting from out of town, is outside planting tomatoes. I am making waffles. And now from another old friend comes this wonderful, wonderful Mother's Day poem by Billy Collins.

So I'm sharing this poem for all you mothers.  But before you read that, I would like to thank my children from the bottom of my heart for transforming me into a mother. It has been the most incredible experience any human being could have.  I am so grateful to the universe for sending you to us! 

And I'd like to thank MY mother for teaching me so much about how to love little children.  And I'd like to thank HER mother...because she got it from somewhere and I'm pretty sure that's where she got it.

Happy Mother's Day!

The Lanyard - Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the archaic truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Giants Are Falling

First there was Mickey Rooney.  Almost a century of Mickey being a bad boy, delighting us with his round face, wry fast delivery and flying feet.  Gone.

It’s getting a little nerve-wracking.  In recent years we’ve lost Steve Jobs and Neil Armstrong.  Now just this year, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize in Literature.   Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Phil Everly, who gave us “Bye, Bye Love.”  Shirley Temple, who helped keep depression out of the Depression.  Pete Seeger, for crying out loud!

But now there’s Jack Ramsay.  In case you aren't a basketball fan or a Portlander and so don’t know his name, Dr. Jack led the Trailblazers to their national victory in 1977.  Sure, he coached a few other little teams, I guess, but for those of us who remember driving around in the wee small hours of the morning after that memorable win, screaming “We’re Number One!” he was the Trailblazers coach for all time.  Plaid pants and all.

And now he’s gone, too.  I know he was old.  But since when does being old mean we can do without you?  Mt. Hood is old too, and I don’t know about you, but I need it in my skyline.  I know there’s a natural span here, and most of these people had been around for over eighty years.  But I don’t have to like it.

And I don’t.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Well, sports fans, I don’t have a Carp today. Today I have a Swish. Three points!

Last week the big news was the release of a recording of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend that she shouldn’t appear in pictures with black men or bring Magic Johnson to Clippers games.

Fans and players, not to mention the NBA leadership, were talking sanctions. Should we fine him? Give him a heads up? That we’re in a post-racism world? Any two-and-a-half million dollar fine isn’t going to get the attention of a man worth almost 2 billion. So what else can you do? Fans boycott, teams refuse to play? Corporate sponsors started to desert. Here in Portland, fans were waiting anxiously to see how the league would respond. 

But just as Rip City and the Green Sports Alliance has led the way in protecting our environment, sports has long led the way in changing our attitudes towards people of diverse backgrounds and colors. 

So now comes the news that Sterling has been banned from the NBA for life. He’s still fabulously wealthy. But according to the Portland Business Journal, Adidas is back to sponsoring the Clippers. And for most of us, it’s good to confirm that our intolerance for bigotry is bigger even than our love of being in the play-offs. 

Swish. Three points!