Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Poisson d'Avril


This picture is of a French "April Fish" postcard. Also known as April Fools. 

When I saw April 1st approaching on the calendar it made me wonder how the day originally got the nickname 'April Fools Day', thus I decided to do a little research.                

Did you know ........ that one theory is that in the year 1564 France changed it's calendar, moving the start of the new year from the end of March to January 1st. Those that clung to the old calendar and refused to change and instead celebrated the new year between March 25th and April 1st had pranks played on them. The pranksters would secretly stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of the pranks were then called "Poisson d' Avril" or "April Fish".  A term, which to this day, remains the French term for April Fools. Allegedly, this is how the tradition was born.

I know there are several versions of how the day came to be, but I think the above version is the most fun, Don't you?

-Au Revoir

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." -Douglas Adams

Monday, March 30, 2009


Spring has sprung and that has me thinking of all the flora about to burst forth.  Here are a few pictures of some favorite blooms from our yard......

Rhododendron "Purple Splendor".....

"Acanthus Mollis", aka Bears Breeches........

Dogwood - "Cornus kousa - Cherokee Chief"......

-Au Revoir

"What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable." -Joseph Addison

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

La maison est où le coeur est.

La casa è dove il cuore è.

El hogar es donde está el corazón.

Haus ist, wo das Herz ist.

It doesn't matter how you say it or in what language, I agree, home is where the heart is but at the same time I think it goes deeper than that. I think home is also a feeling.

Troubadour and I have lived in several towns (Olalla, Penticton, Creston, Twin Lakes, Corvallis, Lebanon) and in a combined 16 dwellings in those towns in the 15 years we've been together. Not all of those dwellings have seemed like home even though we were happy and together. Most were just a place to live. Nothing has seemed more like home than the house we now live in in Corvallis. Here is a picture.

We have lived in this, our current home for almost three years. We looked at it twice with our realtors the second time knew we just had to put in an offer. It is a modest 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom 912 sq feet of living space on almost a quarter of an acre. This is not necessarily a small lot considering it is inside city limits and the house is a perfect size for just the two of us. We asked our realtors to find us a little house on a large lot, just the opposite of the house we were selling and they did. Our old house in Lebanon was 1283 sq ft on a tiny postage stamp size lot. We wanted our neighbors just a little further away. Some breathing room. This house needed a lot of updating but we could see the potential. It had been a rental and was slightly unkempt. To us it was our diamond in the rough.

Once we moved in we proceeded to make it more like home inside and out. Ripping out apple trees and rose corrals and evergreens, oh my. Planting trees and shrubs and painting the entire exterior by hand and that was only the first few weeks. 

Even before we started on all of our projects (of which we still are a long way from complete) there was something about the house. It wasn't that we were finally living back in Corvallis (which is where we wanted to be), but just a feeling about the house itself. It just seemed like home. It doesn't matter that we ripped up the carpet and have had painted bare floors for over 2 years, doesn't matter that we had 1970's brown kitchen cabinets and a harvest gold range hood that had fruit and vegetable stickers all over it, doesn't matter that part of the back fence blew down 2 years ago and we still haven't fixed it (we border forest so there is no one behind us). It just feels like home.

We have had some obnoxious renters move in for neighbors across the street and they have been there for the past 20 months. This has tested the love we have for our home. We swore we wouldn't let neighbors chase us out of hearth and home but one day you never know. It seems it does not matter what time of day or night..... every time we walk out our front door they are there, loudly slamming their front door and coming and going at all hours. We have started to discuss things and our lot may not be big enough or far enough away from our neighbors

Our home is our sanctuary. It is our hideaway from the world. Some people want to get away from their home for the weekend and go to the coast to stay in a motel or other such getaway. Not us. It wouldn't be home. The bed wouldn't have cozy polar fleece sheets like ours does. There would be no lovable ball of fur curled up on the sofa. 

Objectionable people are starting to take over the neighborhood and our sanctuary is slowing losing it's appeal. We may need to look for a larger parcel of land outside the city limits and put a house smack dab in the middle away from everyone. Will it seem like home? Of course it will. We will be there in love with each other and our surroundings and we'll make it a home. We will make sure it has that special feeling. You know the one where you are coming home from a hard day at work and the moment you see it and take a deep breath you are at peace. When you come home and look around and realize life is good. The same feeling we had moving into our current place and still do when the neighbors aren't home. 

Only the next house will be better as it will be a new adventure turning it into a home and life is what you make of it. We'll see what the future holds. We know we are not in our forever home. We aren't necessarily looking to renovate yet another house, but we can sure turn one into a home.

-Au Revoir

"He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." 
-Johann von Goethe

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When good fruit goes bad......

Ever have one of those days where you see a picture and it strikes you as funny? Maybe it shouldn't be that funny, but for some reason on that particular day you think it is. 

Today was one of those days and the following picture struck me as funny. I don't know why but I laughed out loud. Maybe it is just so wrong that it is funny.

It came in an email and was appropriately named "flasher".........

-Au Revoir

"One that would have the fruit must climb the tree." -Thomas Fuller

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cat Wisdom #3

Baxter learned that you are not hiding,
 if they can still see your eyes.....

-Au Revoir

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." - English proverb

Friday, March 20, 2009

All Hail Spring!

The date of the Vernal Equinox this year is March 20th. Spring officially arrived at 4:44 am PST this morning. Now the weather doesn't necessarily turn spring-like as soon as Spring officially arrives but the date does signify other happenings.

The sun has crossed directly over the earth's equator. If you are living in the northern hemisphere it is the Vernal Equinox and if you are living in the southern hemisphere it is the autumnal equinox. The southern hemisphere has their vernal equinox in September. Since I am in the northern hemisphere I shall talk about the vernal equinox today.

Translated "equinox" actually means equal night. This is the day that we have approximately equal hours of daylight and night due to the sun being positioned above the equator.

Did you know the earth's axis is tilted 23.4 degrees and because of that tilt we receive most of the sun's rays during the summer months. In the winter we are tilted away from the sun. If the Earth rotated on an axis perpendicular to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, there would be no variation in day lengths or temperatures throughout the year, and we would not have seasons.

I for one am glad we have seasons. Although I would like the cold and rainy one to be a little shorter. Wouldn't we all?

People have recognized the vernal equinox for thousands of years and the Egyptians even built the Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising sun on the day of the vernal equinox. The first day of Spring also marks the start of the Persian New Year called Nowruz.

As spring approached the birds returned to our backyard feeders en masse. We put out extra feeders and even a few nesting boxes to help our feathered friends. With the birds returning and the trees and shrubs budding out it is my favorite time of year. Soon it will be warm enough to do our plantings and putter in the flower garden. Waiting and being patient for the warm weather is the hardest part. I guess I'll have to pass the time watching the birds. Sigh.

-Au Revoir

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." -Anne Dudley Bradstreet

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If you're lucky enough to be Irish....

you're lucky enough.... or so the saying goes.

As St. Patrick's Day approached I thought of an Irish themed restaurant that Troubadour used to visit in Penticton, B.C., and in Creston, B.C., when we lived in each respectively: Kelly O'Bryans. Of course they no longer have those particular locations but you can visit if you ever happen to go to Kelowna, B.C.

It has an Irish pub atmosphere but is tame enough for the wee lads and lasses. They have a large menu and their specialty is "pachos" a plate of lattice cut potatoes, deep fried until golden, smothered in medium Kraft cheddar, baked and topped with green onions and a side of their trademark "Emerald Isle" sauce. They are a specialty. Doesn't sound very healthy but we remember them fondly.

I also rememeber their green pistachio pudding for dessert and their extensive menu of "mocktails" or non alcoholic beverages. They had quite a few green themed items on their menu but then again it was an Irish restaurant.

They had a little jingle they played in their radio ads:  "If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough.  At Kelly O'Bryans their's no denying you'll have a good time tonight."  I have no idea why I still remember that.

I am not sure if they are still as good as we remember but if we ever get back that way maybe we'll stop by and see. 

-Au Revoir

"Only Irish Coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fat." -Alex Levine

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Keen for Keens

I just have to write a post to tout how happy I am with Keen footwear. Troubadour has been a fan of Keens for a few years and last year talked me into my first pair. I fell in love with a rum raisin colored pair of Napas that happend to be on sale.  They have laser engraved flowers on them so how could I resist.  I could not believe how comfortable they were but also how warm.  They have become my everyday shoe and I am reluctant to wear anything else. 

I had been wanting a hiking boot for a while and had been looking around as I want to break them in before our Wallace Falls trip in May. We went to Footwise a month or so ago and happened to find a pair of Napa boots in seal brown that fit. Gotta love it when they were on sale too.
And today we went in to Footwise looking for boots for Troubadour. He found a pair (yes, on sale) that he likes but they have to bring the right size in from their Eugene store, they will be here Monday. I manged to find a pair of Voyager trail cruiser shoes in charcoal/sterling blue. I have them on now breaking them in.  They will be great for more rugged hiking, camping and everyday summer wear when sandals don't offer enough protection.

It amazes me that it does not seem to matter what pair of Keens I try on as long as it is an 8 it will fit. Keens fit a little small so you need to go up that half size ( I usually wear a 7.5). They are ergonomically correct and have toe room to spare. They are the first shoes that have made me walk correctly. I have had ankle surgery and my gait was always a little off. They are so supportive that the soles don't wear down on one side like cheap shoes do.

We also have plans to purchase some Keen sandals before summer.  If you want a good quality shoe at a reasonable price. I highly recommend Keens. What can I say - I am keen for my Keens.

-Au Revoir

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself, any direction you choose. - Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cat Wisdom #2

Basil learned - never turn down an opportunity to bask in the sun belly up.

-Au Revoir

" The real measure of a day's heat is the length of a sleeping cat."- Charles J. Brady

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


As March 15th once again approaches I think of the assassination of Julius Caesar and the now famous statement from Shakespeare: "Beware the Ides of March". Did you know that Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March 44 BC after declaring himself dictator of Rome for life?

For those that don't know the Ides of March is March 15th. Ides were also known as the 15th of May, July and October, and the 13th of the month for all other months. The word "idus" or ides stems from the Latin for "half division".

The Ides of March are celebrated each year by the Rome Hash House Harriers with a toga run in the streets of Rome in the same place where Julius Caesar was killed. 

I don't think we have to beware of the Ides of March, but I do think we should be "aware" of it, as when we get to the 15th of March - Spring is but a week away. All hail Spring.

-Au Revoir

"Et tu Brute?" - Julius Caesar

Monday, March 9, 2009


And when I say Uno, I don't mean the card game......

When you google image "motorcycles" you get the above image. 
It is called an Uno - Check it out. I think it is pretty darn cool.

- Au Revoir

"Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul." ~Author Unknown

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kudos to you .....

I must give kudos to my hubby Troubadour who is becoming a moderator on the Corvallis/Albany forum. I think he will enjoy the honorary position. 

He is a mellow and easy going person that can lend the voice of reason and common sense when needed and also interject that wicked sense of humor when called for. Props out to you Troubadour. I hope you enjoy your new endeavour.

-Au Revoir

" If every American donated five hours a week, it would equal the labor of 20 million full-time volunteers." -Whoopi Goldberg

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And then......

So, I thought I was done posting about taxes……. but then Troubadour and I received our very small, nominal State of Oregon Department of Revenue tax refund check in the mail. While we are glad that we did not have to pay this year, like we did last year, it wasn’t the actual amount that got me riled up.

This is an excerpt from the refund check stub:
“ More than 50 percent of your taxes invest in our children’s education, from pre-kindergarten to our colleges and universities. 25 percent provides health care for our seniors and assistance for Oregon’s most vulnerable. 13 percent keeps us safe by maintaining state trooper patrols and holding criminals accountable. Remaining funds build roads, invest in Oregon agriculture and forests, and protect the environment.”

So, as a follow up to my last post, I could go off on a rant about the percentage of my tax dollars being spent on education, but I won’t. Although I have heard reference that Oregon is the only state that spends more money on it’s criminal justice and penal systems than on education, thus I am not sure how the state came up with their percentages.

What I find interesting is that this amounts to only 12 percent of my (and your if you live in Oregon) tax dollars contributing to roads, agriculture, forests and environment. I wonder how that 12 percent is divided.

At least we know why our roads are in such poor shape. It does not seem to matter where we drive and whether on 2 wheels or 4, the roads are in very poor condition, potholes, subpar patch jobs, etc. 

I wonder how much of that 12 percent goes to forests and the environment. I enjoy the forests and environment. I would much rather my tax dollars be spend on these things than others. 

My guess is there is no way we’ll ever change the way the state divides the tax revenue, but to not complain would simply be un-American.

-Au Revoir

"Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS?"- Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why is it.........

As tax time approaches this year, Troubadour and I once again ask ourselves the following question: “Why does the government by way of the Internal Revenue Service reward people for having children?”

Now this is a very touchy and controversial matter, as people usually have strong feelings and opinions regarding the subject of their children and/or taxes.

Troubadour and I do not have children, nor do we plan to. We do know several people and other family members who have children. Why is it the people who choose to have children receive a tax credit just for reproducing? Not only that, but the more they multiply so does tax credit they receive.

So my question to the general populace is: “Does this seem fair?”

Those families who have children will emphatically yell, “Yes!” Those who do not will yell “No” just as loud.

Why is it that two families both making the exact same amount of income pay different taxes based solely on their reproductive status?

It does not matter if the families make $20,000; $50,000; or even $100,000 per year, their tax rate should be the same. It should be based on income alone not on how they choose to spend their income.

If the family that chooses not to have children decide to spend their money on toys, motorcycles, or even investments why do they pay higher taxes? 

Why should the family that decides to have children and spend their income to support those children be rewarded by the federal government in the form of a “child tax credit” just for spending their income on children rather than something else? 

In this day and age of economic downturns and slowdowns why are we rewarding people for having children?

Every time you turn on the television or read the newspaper we are told that funding to education has been cut once again and that there is not enough money to provide health care for all children. Why don’t we take those millions of dollars in "tax credits" and actually have those families pay their share of the tax burden and set those monies aside specifically for education and health care for children. 

Why am I paying for their children's education and health care with my higher tax dollars? I think people who choose to have children should be held responsible for the burden they put on society and our government.

Some people will say that they have a “right” or even a “God given right” to have children. You do not have the right to have children, you have a choice and should consider it a privilege. I don’t see where it is written into the United States Constitution that you have a right to a tax break just by having children. 

Don’t even get me started on how much of my local county property tax dollars go towards school funding and education……..

-Au Revoir

"The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return." - Gore Vidal

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Majesty of Nature

Behold Nature's Majesty. I have always been a little in awe of mother nature and the beauty she has created. I love nature. Walking in nature and pictures of nature. Whether on a nature hike or in our own yard. 

Okay, I'm not always overly fond of all of the insects or snakes, but I have a healthy respect for them. Nature and the great outdoors are a wonder. 

Here are a few of my favorite photographs taken by Troubadour and myself. All having to do with some aspect of nature. From the inquisitive garden spider to the humble tree stump. Some pictures have been taken in our yard and some on our travels. May you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoy taking them.

A "Tahitian Sunset" rose from our front yard...

An inquisitive garden spider sunning himself on our viburnum....

One of my favorite pictures - the humble tree stump......

The "Camellia Magnoliaflora" from our backyard....
- Au Revoir

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you... while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." -John Muir