Want a fresh outlook on life? Volunteer with kids.

I enjoy kids of whatever age, but when I volunteer, I have my focus on middle school grades. Middle School students are eager to explore ideas about justice, social expectations, and cultural differences. They want to test their ideas in story. They push me to explain and to listen carefully. They test all of my assumptions, and their natural humor makes me laugh a lot.

During the school years 2010 through 2015, I had the privilege of teaching a weekly short-story writing class in North Clackamas School District at Happy Valley Middle School. Happy Valley staff have welcomed me. The teachers allowed us to use their rooms and computers. Happy Valley is a very warm place for volunteers.

Each year between twelve and fifteen students regularly attended the after-school writing club. As writing instructor, my goal has been to 20141216_170502 highlight the elements of craft – plot, character, conflict, setting and language choice. During the first two years, I had the fun of working with mystery author, Bill Cameron, in this class. After he had to move away, I enjoyed continuing with the next groups, guiding students in the process of getting their creative ideas on paper in scenes.

I was delighted to encounter students already engaged by their school district teachers in the power of non-fiction writing. The students wished to try their hand at storytelling.

These students enjoyed good stories written for their age group. All were eager to learn more about how to write at least as well as their favorite authors. The students showed interest and respect for each other’s work. For me, their enthusiasm was inspirational.

Most of those years, about half the class and a couple of chaperoning parents have been able to come in the summer to Colonyhouse, a cabin owned by Oregon Writers Colony. From the cabin, we’ve enjoyed the beach and forest adventures in Tillamook County.

The first year, in spite of my urging that they bring gym shoes, kids wore flip-flops into the swamp and spruce forest. After that, word got around, gym shoes came out on forest exploring day.

Evenings at Colonyhouse we wrote and shared stories. The swamp mud and the skunk cabbage figured heavily in several sci-fi and mystery tales.

The school year always seemed too short. The many weeks of class didn’t give all the young authors a chance to bring their stories to completion, but the stories as they existed by the end of each year made me want to know how the students might take them forward.

See the cover for this year’s anthology.

The students sent me selfies to use on the cover. From these images, you can guess how much fun we all had.

Anthology 2015 covers, IMG_2356

I look forward to seeing what these students may do with writing as they mature. The depth of their ideas, their intense passions about right and wrong, and the quality of their efforts and writing skill is a credit to the creative powers of amazing young authors.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)
Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.
My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?
Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.
For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have. See photo.
A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available as new and used books. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.

Two Coins in my Pocket

I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out two quarters. Before I paid for my taco, I took a second look at the coins. That look sent me scrambling for enough change to pay for the already-ordered lunch and still keep the two coins.

These coins sat in my hand and spoke deeply to me about the choices we make in art.

The first coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

South Dakota as depicted in the state coin of 2006, shows Mount Rushmore – the complete view of the four presidents. It also depicts a Chinese Ring-Necked Pheasant, the state bird, in flight. All of this is encircled by ears of wheat, reminiscent of the plumes of wheat on an old penny. The wheat is also a nod to a critical product of the state.

The state coin does a good job of depicting South Dakota. The layout of space and choice of the bird in action are good, but the artist was asked to sacrifice quality for quantity in the design. As a result, the faces of Mount Rushmore suffer. President Jefferson’s face especially is distorted. It is so small it cannot be minted to look anything like the original carving (shown below). And the flight of the bird is unrelated to the monument over which it flies.

And then I saw the second coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

The second coin is the 2013 National Park quarter. Though the depiction is again of Mount Rushmore, here the focus is on the first two president’s heads in side view, and on the process of creating the sculpture. In front of Washington’s majestic silhouette, there is a hint of scaffolding. Beside a very recognizable Jefferson, we see a roped carver swinging his mallet. (the carver is Gutzon Borglum, I assume, or his son, )

In the first coin, mint artist, John Mercanti, whose design was chosen by the people of the state, took the pulled-back camera view and depict many items in a small space. In the second, the designer chose to move in, show the monumental size of two presidents. The artist also showed action that was directly related to the carvings.

The second coin, with its tight focus, tells a story and thus is much more memorable design.

I will try to remember this artistic truth when I create. Focus. Bring my audience into the focus of my art. Let the carefully chosen part depict the complex whole.

Do you have examples of this choice in your own work? Camera pulled back? Camera in tight? Are there examples of the long-view, close-view choice in paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, or books you’ve enjoyed? Write to me at rae@raerichen.com about your own ideas and examples. Let’s hear it for perspective choice.

By the way, I want to give credit to the artist of the National Park coin, but the website doesn’t list the designers. I have written to them with the request that they give credit to the artists. When they answer, I will let you know.

Celebrate the Day, whatever Day you’ve got!

Tillamook Mudslide and Thou Beside Me

Twenty-five years ago, our daughter, then a young college student, planned an anniversary party for Woody and me in the fellowship hall of our church. Her friends and brothers helped. The ladies of the church helped. Our friends and family came and we had a wonderful celebration.

That happened to be an Olympic Year, which fact led to the following event. Toward the end of that party, Woody’s dad, Grandpa Clarence, made a toast: “Woody and Rae, you’ve got the Silver. Now go for the Gold!”

“Hear! Hear!” our friends and family urged.

Later, Clarence’s twin sister, Aunt Clara, came up to hug us. She said, with her charming twinkle, “I’m really glad I was able to come today, because, for your fiftieth anniversary, I have other plans.”

What fun we had that evening, and what wonderful memories – some of beloved friends and family still in our lives, some of lovely people now gone and whom we miss.

And today, we are celebrating that Gold Anniversary.

Our daughter, now a busy mother and teacher, with no party-planning time at the beginning of a school year, asked us, “How are you celebrating your 50th?”

We said, “We’re going to a Thorns game the night before. Go Thorns! In the morning, we’ll take your little brother to the airport for a meeting in New York, and then we’ll just continue the same party we’ve enjoyed for fifty years.”

“That’s it?”

“Maybe some Netflix.”Flowers wait for dinner

“That’s it?”

“When you’ve enjoyed each other’s company through joys, and supported each other through sorrows, if you are glad when the other half arrives home at the end of the day, that’s one big celebration. We hope to continue right up until we join Aunt Clara in her other plans, and show Grandpa Clarence that we took his advice.”

“Okay,” she said, “party on.”

Well, beyond that much celebration, here is a photo of the flowers on our table tonight.

The table is set, ready for the pot roast that’s in the oven. We’ll probably get into some kind of world discussion often generated by the map on the wall. And there is also Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream. We’ll have that halfway through a movie.

The Teller Window

Here’s an ‘aha’ about perspective and choice that hit me just this week.
I write a lot. And I design gardens. The garden business works to get me out with people and plants, some of whom appear in my fiction – the plants, I mean.
I’m Out and About, working on gardens, I need lunch and a break from shoveling. I’m Celiac. Gotta be Gluten free. Since I also want good taste, I head off to Taco Time. Taco Time means crispy tacos with real meat, excellent cheese and fresh lettuce.
So, that’s where I was when this revelation came to me about perspective and choice.
Our local Taco Time has the pay window on the passenger side of the car – big time bummer. Bad design some generations ago.

Passenger Side Pay Window

Passenger Side Pay Window

For years, there has always been this problem situation between me and the server. She’s inside protected by a heavy window that surrounds her cash register. Between us is my car window, plus the three feet of empty space that I have to lean over.
You can imagine how much fun that becomes on a rainy day. We have a lot of rainy days in Portland (Have had, but global warming is another discussion.)
I expect rain when I’m installing a garden. I don’t want rain on my lunch, but my narrow range of food choice sends me to this wrong-side window. I unbuckle my seat belt and lean way over, hoping none of my change ends up in the driveway.
However, this week, I whip into the drive-through, order at the crackly little speaker. I drive to the dummkopfishe window, roll down my car window, experience the stiff breeze and wait.
Amazing miracle!
Out comes the server with my drink. Outside! No window between us. She hands me my drink, takes my bills, trots back inside and returns with my change and my taco.
Customer service!
Fifty years of teller window. Fifty years after the building got its bad design, the new manager makes this simple change. And he gets to know his customers by coming out himself. Door to door service
I get out of my car and thank that manager. Such a simple gesture from him and his staff. Huge turn around for them and for me.
The episode made me come home and take another look at myself. What limitations am I simply accepting? In my writing? In my gardens? In life?
What can each of us change with a small change in perspective?
Write to me at rae@raerichen.com about your own ideas and examples.

Why Survive the Apocalypse?

20150106_172849

I’m looking at our world in a brand new way this year. Life is fragile, and we are part of that fragile fabric. Aware of the ephemeral, I decided to gift my family with the first step in a survival kit. Ever since, I’ve been watching the small habits and charming humor in the people around me. I’ve been smelling the morning, greeting the raccoon and the chickadees, really studying the texture, the light and the shadows in places that I often take for granted.

I’ve had some readers comment that they don’t want to be around after the apocalypse, (or after the Great Subduction Zone Earthquake).

I understand that feeling. Recovery is work, and fear, and discovered loss. Loss would make recovery seem like shoving one foot in front of the other, even though we also might,at the same time, discover people and things that have not been lost.

But I have a list of what I want to be around for – people, places and ideas I want to assist in recovery, if I’m still here.

Of course, family is the beginning of that list: Woody, my resilient and positive husband, our wonderful kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, all the in-laws and out. And then friends, my great, close and wise friends. Kids I’ve taught and get a kick out of because of their humor, their imaginations and their energy.

I would hope to find all these people, though some may be missing. Together, we survivors could rebuild our world, create support, maybe even improve our community, over time.

And I would look for my neighbors, some of whom already are friends, and some who might become better friends if we have to rely on each other.

And I will want to see what flowers arise from the ashes during the next spring. Fireweed and pine trees open first after forest fires. What will grow through our broken concrete? I want to be as strong and persistent as those flowers.

Some folks who’ve insisted they don’t want to be around afterward also discuss the innate savagery of people following a disaster. Yes, we all have that capacity. Indeed we do. But we all also have the capability for mutual building. I want to be here to help encourage the building.

Is this blog a downer? I’m thinking here about the people I appreciate, believe in, and with whom I want to recover. You’ve got that list inside of you as well.

So, let’s plan and get ready for the next event, whether the event is bugs in our water or the earth moving under our feet. Here are some photos of things I’ll watch for and nurture afterward.

20150106_172849 20150425_104053 20150425_103646 scan0034 0517021550 IMG_5905 20131020_184744

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next issue of Rae: Always Asking will be about cooking after the big event. Tune in and see what I’m learning and what resources I’m finding.

Hold the Hose

Remember that fantastic water pump I told you about? The one that goes with our barrels of drinking water? Well, not so fantastic after all.

I didn’t see that the pump had a huge drawback. It has to be lubricated. Meaning, it does a great job if what you want to pump is oil or petrol. But water? Bloody hard on the thing.

So, you may remember that I tested my pump in the kitchen sink. The next time I got it out to try on the water barrel, it froze in mid crank. Urchhhhhh! Several unboltings later, we see the problem. Rust. No lubricant (which we wouldn’t have wanted in our water anyway) and thus, no motion.

So, back to the Parkrose Hardware. They took back and credited me for the four un-fried pumps. I kept the one I ruined in case anyone in the neighborhood ever needs to pump oil from our vast underground reserves

20150506_151350

The new non-toxic pump!

And I bought a new pump. This time, I explained myself a lot more clearly to the fellow in the hardware store. He took me right to this pump which is designed for water only. Its plastic parts are not toxic. It fits exactly in the hole at the top of our drinking water barrel and . . .

Tah-dahhhh! It has the added plus that it is the same blue as the barrel.

I just knew you’d all care a lot about color coordination!

pump handle installed

The new pump installed

If you are getting your family ready for emergencies, the Barrel Pump at Parkrose Hardware (or any True Value Hardware) is SKU#8898728 and costs 39.99 . If you are buying for your whole family, ask about discounts for multiple orders of the same item.

Get ready for emergencies and I’ll see you after the apocalypse – or just after the next bug-in-the-water emergency.

The Truth about Garden Hoses

We’ve been talking about getting prepared for emergencies. We started with the most obvious need – water. So, if you haven’t been with us, look back through December 2014 and January 2015 to see how the Richens picked out a barrel safe for drinking water and a hand pump for each of the families on our Christmas list.

IMG_1867Here we are in February and have you filled your barrel? No? I hope at least that you have decided to buy one and are setting it up. As we set up ours, we found a flat place out of the sun and not destined to be under a lot of debris after an earthquake, or under water when the creek rises. In our yard, that place was the north side of the house, near the water spigot and also near the side porch.

And now, my well-prepared friends, it’s time for us to fill our drinking water barrel and test the system. Just turn on the spigot and there you go, right?

Not so right. While searching for our barrels and the water pumps, I discovered the Cancerous Garden Hose Controversy. It turns out that garden hoses are made with some chemicals you don’t want your family drinking. Lead is the most obvious problem. It comes out of garden hoses in rates up to 18 times higher than the federal drinking standard. Moreover, there are other chemicals in your garden hoses that cause cancer, including some we recently worked to take out of children’s toys.*¹

IMG_1869What? You say. “My garden hose has dangerous chemicals?”

This is not evidence of a conspiracy. Garden hose manufacturers are expecting you to drink water inside your house and water the lawn outside. The safety police haven’t told them that people may be filling barrels with water to drink in case of an emergency. And no one in authority has come to the conclusion that lead in garden water might not be great for your soil.

Soil studies exist, showing a possible negative effect, but you know what’s been happening with climate change studies, right? Study, re-study, write definitive papers and then engage in debate with each other where money is mightier than reason*². Thus, we can guess that lead in your garden soil is at least two years from debate, so we hose users might as well change what we can change, eh?

And that means we find a type of hose NOT made with lead. It turns out that there are manufacturers of drinking-water-safe hoses. More costly, but safe. rubber or polyurethane hoses are the go-to material.

A little online research gives us opportunities to buy these types of hoses and have them shipped to us. Brand names advertised as drinking water safe can be found at the following stores and websites: Amazon, Sears, Home Depot, elementhose.com and many other places. Go look out there because this is not an exhaustive list.

So, yeah! for the makers of safe-to-drink hoses!

I hoped to find such hoses in Portland, Oregon, where I live, so I called several hardware stores. I got some clerks for whom “Huh?” is the go-to answer, but still, I almost always got passed to the person who knows. Both of my local hardware stores, Beaumont Hardware on N.E. 43nd and Fremont Street*³ and Park Rose Hardware on N.E 120th and Sandy Boulevard both carried rubber and polyurethane hoses. Beaumont Hardware carries the Element brand in 25 foot ($13) and 50 foot lengths ($27). A good price.

Park Rose Hardware carries the Contractor’s Choice brand of polyurethane hose. There were rubber hoses at Park Rose Hardware as well, but the ones they carried were designed to use with hot water, and store indoors. So, rubber of this type is not exactly what we’re looking for.

IMG_1868Contractor’s Choice, a Eugene, Oregon company makes a polyurethane hose called Gatorhyde (Tough as its Name) The 25 foot length cost almost $30 and has a limited lifetime warranty. The 50 foot Gatorhyde costs $ 40.

At my hardware store, the lady who knows hoses told me this was the hose she would buy because it is light, yet tough and easy-handling. The hose remains flexible above 165 degrees and below zero.

Moreover,*4 the hose ends are not brass, but nickel plate. That means gone is another source of lead. (Brass is copper plus zinc with lead. The lead leaches out into your water.)

So, I bought the Gatorhyde version and brought it home, happy as a well-fed gator.

Those of you who have been following this blog on disaster readiness, may wonder if I paid for five hoses for my five families. Nope. Too close to the Christmas purchase of five barrels and five steel hand pumps. I bought one. This hose will make the rounds of the five houses in short order, filling five barrels and then it will be stored in our garage until time to empty and refill the barrels with fresh water.

How often will you refill, you ask?

Well, guess what. Mold free water is the subject of another blog. Coming soon at raerichen.com

Rae: Always Asking

OH! My stars?

*1 Other not so drinkable chemicals in hoses include cadmium and the phthalate DEHP at 4 times higher than federal drinking water standards (see ecocenter.org for the study by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor Michigan, and healthy-stuff.org for further discussion.)

*2 “Money is mightier than reason?” You ask. And I respond, “When did you stop paying attention to reality?”

*3 Yes, Portland, Oregon has a Fremont Street named after this explorer and politician who had nothing to do with Oregon. Naming choice of the developer? Not sure. There is a process for changing street names in Portland, thank goodness.

*4 Moreover? Bet you haven’t seen that word since you took your one and only class in British- Literature. Evidently, the word Moreover was alive and well in Arkansas in the 20th century, because it was a favorite of my mother. As in “Moreover, Sharon Rae, if your room isn’t clean by six o’clock . . . “   You get the meaning.

The Great Disaster Kit collection – Buying a Pump for your Water Barrel

Buying a Pump for your Water Barrel.

Onward in our quest to outfit the family in case of water problems in Portland (like the e-coli scare of last year) or in case the Pacific Subduction Zone decides to make a move on us.

As you may have read in our previous installment, Family Ready for the Big One?, we bought our water barrel from Alberto at Myers Containers.

Next, we needed a pump to siphon the water out of the barrel when disaster arose. Woody and I have a mechanical pump of the old farm-home type. We’ve set it up in a barrel pond at our home. The grandkids and I enjoy playing with it on a sunny day, but its pipe is bigger than the opening in the plastic water barrel. Besides, for our family Christmas, we needed five pumps for our five families. Farm pump in rain barrel 2IMG_1851

Myers Containers doesn’t sell pumps, but when it came time to buy one, Alberto brought in his colleague, George, who had studied the pump situation. I asked him about the pumps I had seen online. They were plastic versions of the old pump handle seen in the farms of our grandmothers.

George told us he had once ordered a pump of the type I described from the mid-western company that I had found online.

“What you don’t want is to rely on something with plastic parts in an emergency. I had that type and within two weeks it broke.”

So, what do we want?

“Pick up a metal pump that works on the wheel mechanism instead of the siphon being created by the rise of the handle. I think you can get one at a really good hardware store, and it will save you the cost of shipping.”

We went to True Value’s Parkrose Hardware at N.E. 106th and Sandy Boulevard. And there we found exactly what George described to us. water pump closeup,IMG_1856The price was the same as the online order for plastic, about $65. We were going to save time and big shipping costs. Plus, because we ordered five, Parkrose Hardware gave us a discount. We got the Ironton Rotary Hand Pump, item # 37903. It is made with a cast iron casing and three sections, totaling 38 inches of telescoping suction pipe. The impeller (the rotary thing) is made of carbonized resin. I expect to have this pump in action for a long time.

It turns out that the wheel mechanism gives you a continuous flow of about a quart every three cranks. The flow can be controlled by speeding up or slowing down. That’s an improvement over the farm pump that delivers a whooshing splash after a good deal of priming each time you use it.

Thus, I won’t be breaking my arm to get at the water I’m storing in our Big Blue barrel. Here is a photo of Iron Ton, being tested in the water pump demo,IMG_1861kitchen sink. (Did you think I’d test it in the driveway at today’s 36 degrees?)

And here is our Big Blue in his new home on the north side of the house. We decided against storing in the garage because we have not yet cleaned a nice place for him there. Maybe next summer when we empty and refill him, he’ll have indoor shelter.20141214_124326

Next? Guess what? It matters what hose you use to put water in the barrel. Who knew there’d be so much to learn in this quest for an emergency kit?

Tooon In.

Family Ready for the Big One?

(And the small ones too)

Our Pacific Northwest’s big earthquake hasn’t happened yet, but it could happen any time. Geologists have been expecting the big one and have been trying to warn us for quite long enough. We should all be aware of the Subduction Zone facts.

Enough of passive information gathering. Want to get ready?
Join me as I help my extended family, and you all, get ready for that predicted event, or any smaller events between now and the #9 earth moving that is predicted. I’ve begun planning and collecting. And, due to the recent Ecoli shut-down of our water supply, I’m sure my kit will have uses between now and the big bowling event. Unlike Rip Van Winkle, I plan not to be caught napping.
I know you also will have great ideas about what to get, where to get it and how to store it. So, please share your ideas about getting ready as we go down this road toward readiness and safety.
Our family is extended, but most of us live in the greater Portland area. We need to plan together, but also plan separately. We don’t live close enough to assume we can get to each other in a crisis.
Thus, we realized that each family unit would need its own equipment. And we can add to these collections as we can afford to do so. The first questions is what do we each need? And to begin, what do we need the most?
We humans are 60% water, so Water tops that Needs Most list. The recommended water storage is 3 gallons a day per person for at least five days. I hunted over the area for water storage and found that most in the know recommend plastic 55 gallon drums. First problem, who sells these? 20141214_124326
Online, I found many container stores. I called a hootin’ lot of them, and discovered that

1) Some were out of business

2) Some didn’t deal with small fry like me and

3) Some couldn’t answer my questions about what I needed.
But one store understood what I was trying to do, and took the time to answer. That one place was Myers Containers at 8435 Northeast Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR, 1-800 406-9377. When I called, I was transferred right away to Alberto. He told me they had just what I was looking for. I drove out there and looked at the product. I ordered five.
They are sturdy, have strong plug-ins on top and are a good price at $65. This amounts to all of Christmas for each family, but what do you do when you love folks? You help them get ready. Right? I hope you and yours are following in my footsteps. I’ll make big tracks, just for you, my friends.

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We took the tree-farm truck to Myers, met Alberto and Jesus, who helped us plunk four containers into the truck, a perfect fit. We’ll go back after the fifth one next week.
Next blog entry, I’ll show you how we’re going to get all that water out of the 55 gallon drums when we need it. Mechanical pumps, here we come!

Post Script:
In my previous discussion, (June 2, 2013) I mentioned resources we all can use:
Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Readiness. Response. Recovery.
Phone: 503-823-4375, Fax: 503-823-3903, TDD: 503-823-3947
These sites have lists that have been thoughtfully worked out by people who practice emergency response.
Another resource is available – your neighborhood preparedness volunteers. My friend, Ruth Jones has joined the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) program. It is her volunteer job to attend preparedness sessions and to make information she gets available to her neighbors. I got into this project because of Ruth’s presentation at a neighborhood brown bag lunch. She remains a source for us. You can call 503-823-4375 or go online at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/31667 to find out how your neighbors can be ready for any type of emergency.