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The Observer paper 02/12/16

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Mountain of wisdom grows steeper each year

Every day I try to learn something new. Some days it happens quicker than other days. Take Wednesday, for instance. Right after sunup, I learned that foxes come in all shades of red. The fox flitting through my west yard carrying a mountain quail in its mouth looked as if he’d been bleached out by too much time in the July sun.

Diamonds are forever: Sweet games are a hit

My grandpa, Oswald Swensen Carlsen Jensen Christiansen Petersen, was a big baseball fan. I am not.

Petunia hunter: Stemming the deer invasion

am not a hunter. Not yet, anyway. In Northeast Oregon, that is like admitting you don’t eat red meat, own a pickup truck or a border collie and prefer opera music.

Being American means ‘I can’

The Fourth of July is rapidly approaching. Buy fireworks stock. Yes, the Great Recession, or as I like to call it the Fair to Middlin’ Recession, has slapped us around like a bear going after a coon dog.

We all scream for ice cream

When I was a kid, you could get a pack of Wrigley’s gum for a dime, a PayDay candy bar for 25 cents, gasoline for 50 cents a gallon and a Ford Fairlane for a dollar. Just kidding. Having seen me tearing up the neighborhood on a tricycle, no one would sell me a Fairlane. 

Duck soup meets Beaver fever

We are a mixed marriage. My wife, the person I call Wonder Woman, grew up an Oregon State University fan — a Beaver. I grew up a University of Oregon fan — a Duck.

Dog days arrive early, with bark

Blame global warming. Climate change. Vengeful monkeys.

The troubled bridge over waters

Me being nervous is nothing new. I get nervous over stoplights, incessant May rain and buzzards circling when I attempt golf.

Whitman commencement offers Idle moments

The Ohio State University had Barack Obama, Tulane University had the Dalai Lama, Harvard had Oprah Winfrey — and Hampshire College had Bobcat Goldthwait reading Oprah’s speech word for word.

The unbearable lightness of perfect

Today, people complain about a lack of role models. Growing up on the banks of Crooked Creek in the 1960s, I had no such problem. Role models were everywhere. Many of them watched closely out their windows to make sure me and the other kids did not beat each other with sticks.

Cloudy with a chance of swearing

As a kid, I was curious about swearing. I never heard much of it, so I’d go around the neighborhood visiting old sheepherders, men working on cars and kids who were bad seeds hoping to enhance my vocabulary.

Shocking the grass into submission

Today most people live in big houses with small yards. Growing up, I lived in a small house with a 400-acre yard. Well, at least it seemed that big when we pulled out the electric lawn mower, opened a window in the utility room, plugged in the quarter mile of linked extension cords and went to work mowing.

Night owls rule, morning people yawn

Google “famous night owls” and you’ll come up with an impressive list that includes Winston Churchill, Elvis Presley, Hunter S. Thompson and Adolph Hitler.

Life at the end of the road

I’ve always felt most comfortable being on the edge of things. 

Perhaps you do too. Goodness knows, dry side of Oregon places like Cove and Imnaha, Troy and Flora, are, if not at the end of the road, far enough off the beaten track to miss most of the hubbub of life. 

Steller’s jay does spot-on hawk imitation

Every few weeks, between blowing semi truck and trailer rigs over on Interstate 84 and making the blacksmith’s anvils we use for wind chimes here ring with a volume of an Oregon Duck football crowd, the wind dies down long enough to let us know it is spring.

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