This month I celebrated my one-year anniversary of living in the Gorge and working at the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. A lot has happened over this year - some challenging, some great, and some surprising.
And what strikes me most when looking back over this last year are the amazing people I have encountered here. This no doubt sounds clichéd, but it is absolutely true: From the first day I arrived, so many people here have been kind, enthusiastic, helpful and supportive.
People like Andrew McElderry, who set the foundation for making the chamber the vibrant organization it is today. Or Susan Lutton, who offered much-needed emotional support in my early days here when things were a little rocky.
People who continue to lend their time and patience to mentor me about Hood River, like Maui Meyer and Bob Francis. People who regularly share their expertise, like Steve Gates, Camille Hukari, Brian Shortt, Michael Peterson and Bob Fox. And those individuals who were simply kind and listened while I sorted out my role at the chamber, like Michael Barthmus, Stu Watson and Michelle Dowdy.
I lived in Portland for many years, and I got used to being relatively anonymous. Before moving here permanently, I knew two people in Hood River. Now I'm guessing I know at least 2,000, and yet it can still take me by surprise that I seem to see someone I know most everywhere I go.
I admit when we first moved here, my husband and I were sometimes amused by the whole notion of a small-town community. But now we find ourselves moved by things like a Heights Fourth of July parade, a Memorial Day service, and the endless generosity of the people here who find the most creative ways to support local people in need.
People say if you haven't lived here at least 50 years then you're still a newcomer; so if that's true, I guess I won't live long enough to call myself a real resident. But in my heart, this is now my home, and I'm proud to say that this is my Hood River.
Executive director, Hood River County Chamber of Commerce
Recently I had shoulder surgery at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. It was not my first surgery there. Last year the same surgeon, Dr. John Durkan, gave me a new right knee.
I went into this operation full of confidence in my doctor and in the outstanding care I expected to receive at the hospital. The excellent, caring staff did not disappoint. Care could not have been more comforting and personal.
After I discovered I had left a library book at the hospital, we went back to look for it. The staff turned over every stone, but it could not be found. That night, I got a call that it had been found - and would I like to pick it up or have the finder return it to the library?
I challenge anyone to find a more patient-centered hospital anywhere. We're so happy with the hospital! Our thanks to everyone there.
Kudos to Gil Seeley who is bringing exciting and quality music to the Columbia Gorge through his Gorge Music Festival. The concert at Riverside Church last night (Saturday, July 23), a repeat of Friday's concert in White Salmon, was brilliantly played by Oregon Symphony musicians and others and featured music by Schubert, Schumann and Piazzola.
There are two more concerts in the series, a Duo-piano Spectacular, Aug. 5 and 6, and flamenco music on Aug. 12 and 13. Don't miss them!
Let's support this fledgling endeavor.
Dear Mayor, I sincerely hope the city council will take a moment to come look at the last road project attempted on my border at Stonehedge. Pretty dismal result.
"Eliminating the bid process"? Yikes! Red Alert! Red Alert! "Fast track." Yikes, again!
Slow down, take a walk around my property, enjoy the tall, endangered trees and enjoy a glass of local wine. Then take a look at the east side of our property that is dying from a lack of water.
There's a slow stream of water flowing down the road now, creating a huge weed problem on the east side of Mt. Adams drive. That water used to stay in the roots of my now-dying tall firs.
This new road will do worse, according to professional arborists, unless an appropriate retaining wall is built - which may or may not happen, right?
Blow up the land, crush the rock, sell the rock, walk away, leave the canyon to future developers.
The good news is that they're destroying my trees to the north, so they can kill the trees to my west, to match my dead trees on the east. Whew! For a second there, I was worried.
As quoted in the Saturday (July 23) Hood River News, the statement to the judge from the teenager in the Odell vandalism incident as to his reason for the vandalism being the death of Forest, the teen killed in the truck/skateboarding accident, deserves further listening.
It is no justification or excuse for the actions, but it may well be the tip of the iceberg. Unresolved grief can lay dormant for decades, but that doesn't mean it isn't having dire effects in the present.
One of the most requested shows to be rerun in the early 1990s was Bill Moyer's interview of Robert Bly called "A Gathering of Men" (available at the Hood River library).
Bly talks in it and also in his book "Iron John" about the complications and challenges for male grief and loss, and how, with the loss of initiation rites over time, it affects young men. In my mind, the current horror in Norway has echoes of something similar that gets twisted.
Tongue Twister kudos
The tongue twister event at the SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) fundraiser at Hood River Valley High School last weekend was great. The participants should get a big round of applause (they did!). Style points for all!
And "The Schonz" - he's still got it!
The venerated broadcaster for the Portland Trail Blazers, Bill Schonley, brought a professional air and a generous touch of graciousness to the event. And his age-old wisdom (ya gotta make yer free-throws) is still as applicable as ever!
Well done! Looking forward to next year's event.
Phil and Judy Jensen
Save Social Security
People, we are about to be suckered again. Remember when the government, already deeply in debt from two unfunded wars, told us that the big banks and Wall Street had to be bailed out because they were just too big to let fail? That put us deeper in debt.
Now the Tea Party, which has control of the house, is holding the country hostage by refusing to raise the debt floor unless their demands are met. All the pundits agree that defaulting on the debt would be disastrous for our country and the whole world. So we will be told that it is necessary to appease the Tea Party so they will allow the government to raise the debt limit, and this without one cent more in taxes or even to let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire.
So, to avoid default (which is unthinkable) it will be necessary to make deep cuts to programs for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, and also to our schools and other social programs. And, by the way, if the government does default that means that Social Security checks and government pensions for the military will probably not be paid in August.
Nothing was said, of course, about withholding the president's or Congress's pay.
But that doesn't affect me, you may think. I'm not on Social Security or a pension, and I'm not poor, so why should I care? I can only look out for myself and my family.
But which of you doesn't have parents on Social Security? And who is immune from unforeseen circumstances, like losing a job, or becoming seriously ill?
And what about your own retirement? Do you make enough money to save for it if Social Security is eliminated or decimated to the point where it cannot support even a modest level of security? That seems to be the Tea Party's ultimate goal. If they win on this, they will feel justified in feeling that they can go even further to impose their agenda on the country.
It's too late to write! Let's flood the White House with calls to President Obama to not give in to hostage takers!