Posts Tagged ‘Portland outdoors’

Sorry ladybugs, I’m at a failure at playing God

May 10, 2010

I like to act like the world revolves around me, but every time I play God – even in the slightest bit – I am quickly reminded of my true place (little spec next to ant).

I’ve long been a gardening enthusiast. In the past decade I’ve focused on organic, natural ways to create and to kill. Although I really wanted to poison the mole that put 34 holes in our yard in a month last summer, I bought a vibrating underground stick instead.

Bugs are just as challenging – not to mention prolific – here in Oregon. Little plastic tubs of beer attract slugs like garage sale signs attract me, but putting one in each garden bed requires a beer a night, so I found natural slug bait instead. (Egg shells and penny perimeters work until you water and they get covered by dirt.)

When I saw the ladybug guy at the farmer’s market Saturday, I decided it was time to play God just a little. Ladybugs feed on annoying little critters like the whiteflies and aphids that came home with me on a couple geranium starts. We read the instructions and waited until dusk as ladybugs apparently don’t fly away at night.

The directions also said you can spray the ladybugs with a 50/50 mixture of pop and water so their little wings get sticky and they can’t fly away for a few days. Since we don’t drink sugar pop, we thought a sugar-water solution would do the trick. Bob found a spray bottle, cleaned it and made a solution. I released them throughout the yard and garden, asking them to bring luck and prosperity to our crop.

Sunday morning I bounced out into the sun to check on my little ladies only to find that most of them were dead. Of 1,500 ladybugs I’d killed all but 100 or less. My little “God” experiment failed miserably. Maybe the spray bottle had been used for soap, although we thought it was thoroughly cleaned. Perhaps it was just too much sugar in the water and we candied their little breathing apparatuses. Regardless of the reason they died, I felt a complete failure.

Now, I cannot stand an unanswered question so I went to the Sunday farmers market and found the ladybug man and asked him if it’s possible to kill them with sugar. Turns out it is possible. Too much chlorine in the water can kill them too.

Despite the previous day’s tragedy, the ladybug guy kindly gave me a fresh bag of 1,500 bugs – and he advised me not to spray them at all.

So, I did my part and let them go. I don’t think they all survived for whatever reason, but I see hundreds crawling around looking for little pests to chomp. I don’t feel so badly about the dead ones, partially because I can’t tell if they were from the first batch or the second, and partially because I understand that like most things, it is out of my control.

I just need to chill, and let my Father do his job.

By request: My trunk of amazement

April 19, 2010

A couple months ago I had blog requests from two of my biggest fans (not including my mom). One asked for a photo blog and the other requested a “fun and not-so-serious” blog.

Stumped, I did neither. Since I haven’t written here in over a month, I thought I’d honor both requests and share my favorite personal mystery.

This is an expose on what my hiking partner recently tabbed my “trunk of amazement.” The junk in my truck suggests I may run away shortly or I like to be prepared. Since most of this gear has been riding around in my Subaru for years, I am probably not going to r-u-nn-o-f-t.


Items in the Trunk of Amazement:

~ (3) Crazy Creek chairs – must use for next roller derby!
~ Hiking poles – Amanda and I use weekly
~ Two pairs of hiking boots, Keens and Birkenstocks
~ Snow scraper – great to have for our couple of snows a year
~ Yoga mat – for Tuesday night class
~ A lightweight backpacker’s pillow
~ Northface Tadpole tent – birthday present from Dad
~ An Outback oven – bakes awesome food on single burner
~ Backpacker cookware and utensils – you never know
~ Tall snow gators
~ Hand pump water filter
~ Quick-dry towel
~ Sleeping bag pad – but no sleeping bag
~ Gloves, ear warmer and scarf – year round
~ Manual Nikon camera, lenses, film and a tripod – have not pushed film for years
~ Hatchet – used many a camping trip
~ Toiletries: comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, sample-size face soap and lotion, sunscreen
~ Frisbee golf discs – at least two drivers and a putter
~ Softball glove and softball – miss playing on beer league
~ Cop size, black Maglite flashlight – yes, I will smack you with it before you rob me
~ (2) Umbrellas – one came with a free Acura Legend (thanks Roger)
~ Slip-on water shoes with good rubber bottoms
~ Fire shelter and hard hat – in case I drive upon a wildfire?
~ (2) Whistles and (2) ponchos
~ Extra long jumper cables – insert joke about Indian wedding
~ Portland Thomas guide and Oregon rec map (plus a Nav upfront and still get lost)
~ Tool box with several knives, sweetgrass braid end, wine opener, fishing bobber, matches
~ Collapsible 2-gallon water jug
~ Sandler President’s Club CDs and binder – both often in house and front seat
~ Two fanny packs, a water bottle and first aid kit – kit contains all types of Band-Aids, moleskin, Benadryl, OTC painkillers, Swiss Army knife and more
~ At least 5 reusable shopping bags, small to Costco gianormous size
~ Plastic bags for muddy shoes – note to self, add a few more
~ Scraps of garbage, wrappers, file folders from work – good fire starter
~ 10-year-old Spearmint Altoids – still taste okay

My 10 favorite habits, so far

December 12, 2009

A chat with my little brother reminded me how much I enjoy saying “love you” rather than good-bye. This habit started in my early teens and is a rewarding life change. It tops my 10 favorite habits.

1) Telling people I love them – today. Possibly I read too many romantic novels in which the character lost someone and didn’t get to say it. I don’t wait until tomorrow to say “love ya.”

2) Build a positive outlook. If I said “keep” a positive outlook I’d be a liar at least some times. I keep constructing a solid positive foundation one brick at a time.

3) Be honest, but not harmful. Both parts are crucially important. A boss once said I am honest to a fault. He thought the fault kept me from selling. Much worse, the fault caused me to be rude and hurtful. I try to be candid, yet not blunt or inappropriate.

4) Laugh at myself often. A best friend knows when to laugh with me. So should I. When I do something silly, I chuckle. In the middle of disaster, I laugh. Of course I snicker and snort at my own stories. I just can’t help it.

5) Talk to myself, and listen for response. It runs in my family. My brothers sing little made-up songs or hum all the time and my mom states her next move before she does it. Dad’s not so obvious, except the little remarks to the air.

Naturally, I talk to myself (the cats, the plants, the garden and nearly everything). I recently began listening for a reply. An answer could lie in my words or body language. What is my heart really saying?

6) Strive to be a better listener. Quick with a word on anything, I had to learn to listen. Instead of letting my mind race ahead in the conversation, I try to focus on what’s said, not said and suggested. I can only improve.

7) Seek adventure/try new things. I do something new for my birthday every year. I also taste new things, listen to different music and join people in unique adventures. Even more significant, I give childhood dislikes a second chance. I still gag on sweetened squash, but adore little oysters on the half shell.

8) Read, read, read. I’m not Oprah, yet I do cram a lot of text in the noggin. Reading is one of my oldest habits. It connects me to fantasy, truth and people. Most days I wish I had more time to read from my pile of books, RSS and social media.

9) Always ask the question. Whatever the question may be, I typically ask it. I’m an outgoing, natural speaker, but crave stories and knowledge from others. So my philosophy is “ask and you shall know.”

10) Smile as often as physically possible. My face is literally tired at the end of a good day. I like to smile at people. I visited New York at 17 and was perplexed because everyone looks down and walks fast. A New Yorker friend explained that there are too many people to attempt connecting. Thankfully I live in Portland, because I like connecting.

No mistake; Mishap prompted my best habit

December 10, 2009

Walking is one of my favorite habits that started by accident, literally.

In my early 20s, I lived in Northern Idaho where freezing rain is a winter standard. One wrong step and I landed a reconstructed ankle complete with titanium pins, screws and plate. After months of casts and physical therapy, workout options were few so I started walking.

Slow, unsteady strolling led to intense power walks on the St. Maries River dike. The injury came without invite, but the new habit became an addiction I need to feel good.

Walking provides time to pray, brainstorm new ideas and explore. Some days a dog or a cat will join me until I pause to send them back home. Squirrels and crows fighting over nuts induce laughter.

Walking is ideal for people with low back pain, poor posture or goals of improved fitness, according to our roommate Nick, a physical therapist intern. He suggests walking 20-30 minutes three to four times a week. Within 21 days, it should be habit.

“Make it a habit after a meal. Or just make it part of your daily routine,” he says. “Start slow. Get a partner; someone to hold you responsible will help.”

I know shoes are important gear because I grew up in an athletic family of marathoners, bike racers and backpackers. I realized talking with Nick that some people may not know how, or why, to pick great shoes. He likes the “shoe dog” on www.roadrunnersports.com. It’s a guide to the correct amount of support, cushion and control for each foot type. A good shoe prevents stress fractures, poor posture and collapsing arch, all of which can lead to injury.

When shopping in store, bend, poke and prod at the shoe. Nick says the toe break should match the natural break of the foot, the heal cup should be sturdy and the arch needs increased “medial support,” (less give). He isn’t fan of all-leather shoes because they stretch with wear. Lastly, Nick reminds us to replace walking shoes at least once a year. I replace mine every six months.

A mishap prompted my habit, but it was no mistake. Walking is an option everywhere I go. It has no dues or fees and always yields countless rewards. It’s a journey with every step.

(Note: Nicholas Adams is a bodybuilder and physical therapy student living with us while interning in Portland. He is a proponent of making small changes and building on them.)

Stressed? How about a tromp in the woods?

December 2, 2009
Mt. Hamilton Nov. view

Fall brilliance in Columbia Gorge

Scanning the Internet for a mid-week hike, I wonder if some of Portland’s thousand of unemployed are also capitalizing on misfortune by getting outdoors. A tromp through the woods on a Wednesday is a great way to forget about this tough time for a while.

It’s ironic that my happiness depends on communing with nature often. As a teenager, I resented my parents for dragging me to camp in Glacier Park nearly every weekend. I resented the no electronics rule didn’t want to miss happenings in my dinky hometown (population 750). Camping improved when I brought friends, but it still felt forced.

In college I suffered from ongoing discontent that I couldn’t explain. I carried a loneliness that burrowed deeper than missing my family. Beer could not fill this empty pit. Eventually, I realized I was longing for the outdoors. I jumped at the chance to hunt with my brother, learn about fishing bait from dad or drive half the night to rendezvous with the family for a rafting trip.

My first journalism job at a weekly paper in St. Maries, Idaho was a great blessing.

My suspicion was confirmed. The supplement I needed was a strong dose of the mountains. The lonely pang was replaced by exhilaration for adventures in the Idaho panhandle. Plus, the job required covering outdoors topics and catching the area splendor on film. I initiated the habit of traveling with hiking, fishing and swimming gear at all times. My good friend still traverses this glorious heaven water and mountains for photos like this http://skookumfoto.blogspot.com/2009/11/sunset-slough.html.

Oregon’s diverse landscape is an equally magnificent heaven and the allure to many who move here. Yet I let work, getting married, buying a house, etc. hinder my explorations. My misfortune has provided time to climb mountains and renew my spirit. Regardless of your employment status, it is easy to find groups, activities and networks to help you explore safely. I hope these links help you get outdoors – praise the creation, find peace and brainstorm new ideas.

Whether you walk, bike, hike, ski, kayak or push a stroller, there is a Portland Meetup Group for you – http://www.meetup.com.

The Mazamas are locally famous for climbing and their site offers a list of varying groups – http://www.mazamas.org/your/adventure/starts-here/C91/.

REI (www.rei.com) not only sells gear, but teaches you how to use it and offers presentations by people who travel and push the limits.

Lastly, an interesting source of all types of activities for adults and families is the weekly event calendar from Beyond 50s Radio – beyond50@beyond50radio.com. I’m not beyond 50 and I love this weekly email.