By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Thu, March 13 2008 - 10:34 pm
March 28, 2010 Valparaiso, IN
I have not been to Corvallis in over a year now, but someday I would like to spend part of each year there.
The other day I was researching how much per capita the Santa Fe County, New Mexico, spends on Public Health Assistance (what used to be called the indigent fund) and was surprised to see how high the total was for the year given, 2007.
I decided to check out Benton County, Oregon for a comparison but the figures that I could find were all Medicaid related. How much of the Santa Fe Counties fund were Medicaid I don't know, so I couldn't properly relate the two.
What I did find out, though, is that that Benton County has a Public Health Week coming up very soon, April 5 through 11 of this year. If any of you could find out the budget for health care assistance in Benton County, I would appreciate it if you let me know. I don't want the figures for preventive care and public health education, just the amount actually shelled out by the county for health care for residents.
Anyone who is visiting Corvallis at the time might want to check out the celebration being held at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library at 6 p.m. on April 6th. There will be a networking reception with finger food and posters! If I were in Corvallis, I would try to attend!
If you have read any of Thomas Friedman's writings about the economy in the last ten years, you know how important networking can be, and how helpful it might be to you!
Also at the Library is a book club that meets once a month. It is a lot of fun. If you want some intellectual stimulation, check it out!
December 30, 2008 Denver, CO
Yesterday was my last day in Corvallis. We went on another walk to the floodplain. On our way we saw ten wild turkies, strutting brazenly across someone's front yard now that Christmas and Thanksgiving are safely past! Two of them were on the patio, one of them in full display with his tailfeathers spread. Now there's a smart male, already beginning his courtship ingratiations for the coming Spring!
I saw St. Mary's Peak for the first time since I got to Corvallis, it has been that overcast and cloudy for most of the past two weeks. I don't know when I'll get to Corvallis again, but if I can't travel there maybe I'll find a way to find out what is going on. Admittedly, these reports have been more natural-life oriented than anything else. Maybe my absence will result in subjects of more interest to a wider audience. But don't hold your breath!
Two other sources of green growing on trees in Corvallis that I forgot to mention the other day are ferns (yes ferns!) and ivy. All in all, the main winter color in Corvallis might still be green!
December 26, 2008 Corvallis, OR
This is the 2d day of Christmas, so I won't talk about Fahrenheit 9/11, which I finally saw for the first time today. See it if you haven't.
It is a good thing to know that within a month, the Bush occupation of the White House will be over. That is something to be thankful for.
We went on a long Christmas Day walk yesterday, which was peaceful except for the last leg, when we heard several loud bangs. They sounded like heavy machinery hitting empty metal containers some distance away.
Sounds sometimes fool me like that. My friend who lives in this neighborhood assures me that the noise is created by a neighbor who does it occasionally to annoy another neighbor. She often sleeps during the day, and he likes to bug her.
There's the spirit of Christmas for you!
December 24, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Left the house at what seemed like dawn today, it was so overcast. We took a looong walk to the Midge Cramer path leading to Bald Hill.
The walk reminded me of the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. All the way to the intersection of the path with 53rd street we saw geese flying South. There were more than I have seen flying around here at one time before - thousands of them.
Their formations are by no means always perfect Vees. The first flock (gaggle?) we saw looked like an etch-a-sketch drawing of a bird with a long tail - definitely not a goose! After that it was easy to see a cat (stalking that tempting bird) a dog, a human face (banal, sorry - that's what I saw!) the way you can see them in clouds drifting by in a blue summer sky.
The birds were numerous: we saw a western bluebird, a Stellar's jay, a scrub jay, a pair of towhees (spotted? No spots on the breasts of those birds - both male) hanging out by this huge structure made of twigs that looked like somebody's nest or mound. What kind of creature would make that 2.5 by 3 foot nest at eye-level and above? Not the towhees, I'll bet. I think they nest on the ground, anyway.
They were the least shy of the lot, those towhees - no, I take that back. When I walked toward the pond along the bike path to Philomath, a dozen ducks came towards me, hoping, I guess, for a little Christmas snack. White domestic ducks, mallards, and I think American wigeons.
A hawk I couldn't see well enough to even try to identify was spooked enough by us to keep ahead of us for a while. Of course there were sparrows of several sorts, chickadees, and what I think was a cedar waxwing. Not sure.
The last mile or so of our walk was a little drizzly, but we arrived back at home only a little the worse for wear. I guess we'll spend the rest of the day in serious DVD movie-watching and game-playing.
Have a sweet Christmas Eve!
December 23, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Today, I admit, was a day I could have spent anywhere. It was dryer here today, but I spent the morning at the laundromat and the afternoon watching a DVD movie.
Driving between town and my host's place, however, really looked different from my home state. The deciduous trees did not look dark brown and black; they are covered with lichens, bright green mosses, and Spanish moss (whatever that is botanically!)
It makes for a softer look. Winter does not look so stark, and actually here it isn't. But that doesn't prevent the cloud cover from keeping the sky white, and woe betide him who fails to take the wet into account when he protects himself from the cold!
Another way to put it: Santa won't take off his fur suit when he comes here. He will probably top it with a parka!
December 22, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Well, no way to describe this weather except nasty. I apologize to those who grin inanely and say, "I like all weather."
Well. I don't. The only thing you can say for it is that it is not terribly cold. Mid-thirties, iced with snow and slush. Lots of nice, goopy, slush.
But I remembered to take my camera when we headed out today. Seeing a view of Mary's River I have never seen snow-splashed, I decided to take a photo, got out of the truck, and approached the bridge.
There I learned a photography lesson: when approaching a good location for a shot, turn your camera on before you get too close. Otherwise the wildlife which you unintentionally flush (in this case a Great Blue Heron) will become a mere speck in your picture before you manage to snap it. Well, maybe I'll be able to see it when it is up on the computer.
Not to worry, though. A walk along the Willamette River a short while later provided a viewing of not one but what seemed to be a dozen Great Blues! Is that possible? I had no binoculars, so I'm not sure. They were on the far side of the river. I have never seen so many together before. Can anybody tell me about that? If you happened by the Willamette River along the Corvallis River walk and know what we saw, write me!
Ha, ha, ha! Who what when where how? I dunno!
December 21, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Stayed in bed twelve hours last night. Who says humans don't hibernate when given the opportunity? (Especially when tempted to slumber by football on TV (oops, sorry, no offense intended! And from what I heard of the game, none offered by the home team, either!))
Today is the shortest day of the year. It looks as if the snow is gone. Yesterday during the daylight hours we went into The Golden Crane in downtown Corvallis, which has jewelry and clothing and art objects. The young woman minding the store was carrying a beautiful baby in front of her, wrapped in a rebozo (or a perhaps MidEastern equivalent?)
They were the perfect tableau for the Advent season! We bought a lovely piece of hand-crafted jewelry reflective of the natural world.
Unfortunately downtown was not teeming with customers. It makes me concerned for the heart of Corvallis, which has been lively ever since I first saw the town. Come downtown to do your Christmas shopping! My home town already has some empty storefronts on our main street right across from the Courthouse. Believe me, you don't want this to happen in your community!
Wherever you are, spend local if you can. One or two unique objects equals many junky and/or mass produced ones.
And if you honestly aren't hurting for money, maybe this is the year to spend more than usual as a gift to everyone else, instead of contracting financially along with all the folks who have real reason to fear!
Maybe that is the significance of Santa living at the North Pole. Where could there be less stuff than at the North Pole? Yet Santa gives and gives and gives!
December 19, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Yesterday I was enthusing about the variety of plant life found in this part of the country, including Corvallis. Today these charms have been magnified by a four-inch snow.
So much snow my friend and I have not seen here, and he has lived here four years longer than I. On our walk we saw snow-covered trees with unusual stem and leaf configurations that made patterns of tracery I have never seen before anywhere.
A robin perches at the very top of a mature tree, as if to say, "Make no mistake - I am still King."
The nearby mountains look graceful snow-coated, and clumps of closely-planted pines in the distance stand out in high contrast. Big bunches of geese are flying in straggling Vees and I wonder if they are wondering whether to get the hell out of here.
Not me. I am delighted to be in Corvallis and looking forward to going downtown and soaking up all the Christmas cheer that seems to be abounding. Maybe Corvallis will even have a white Christmas this year! No wonder everyone seems so jolly!
December 18, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Took a three mile walk around the Southwest side of town today. Unlike the usual walk here, we had to watch out for slippery ice underfoot.
Come to Corvallis and you can see what can be done for winter plant ornamentation in your yard: lots of shrubs with red twigs and/or red berries; lots of apple trees still loaded with still-red apples; blooming heathers and even a faded rose or two.
Like the northern conifers? Come to Corvallis! Like the Spanish-moss decoration of the Far South? You might feel a little at home in Corvallis. The predominant colors on this coldish rainy day were brown and white (snow) and the colors we use to celebrate X-mas, only in off-traditional tones: dark russet reds, mossy greens.
Mary's Floodplain, which is a project to restore some native habitat, has a boardwalk which overlooks some colorful winter shrubbery. The burnt-off field which comprises part of the view hid a group of kill-deer that flew off keening when we walked by. I'm told this kind of burning was done by Native Americans centuries ago for hunting purposes.
Our walk took us through neighborhoods with old houses and new, sheltering folks who aren't afraid to share their small front yards with giant sequoias and people who are looking forward to what they can put into their own now-empty yards for the next twenty years. There can't be a region of the country with more varieties of growable shrubs and trees than the Northwest!
Just don't allow the visual riches of the place to distract you from what might be underfoot for the next few days!
December 17, 2008 Corvallis, OR
Flight into Portland, shuttle ride through some horizontal snowfall, then Corvallis!
But what a Corvallis! More snow than I have ever seen here, I think. I was here during an ice storm five or six years ago that broke a lot of trees. This is more just the kind of weather I thought I was leaving when I left Indiana.
I go to Denver and the temperature plummets fifty degrees.
I guess I must pack big weather power!
For the next two weeks or so I will be stumbling around the town to see what's new. Your Corvallis correspondant, long silent, has returned.
I want to get a good picture of the Benton County Courthouse decorated for Xmas.
June 27, 2008
I haven't added to this article in quite a while, mostly because I have not been in Corvallis since March.
Partly, though, I was embarrassed because the day after I wrote my piece about the Sequoias, I went to Avery Park and took a closer look at them. Up close, their foliage looks more like a scratchy green pot-cleaner than Arbor vitae!
The longer I waited to rectify my description, the more embarrassing it became to actually do it.
Another thing I have postponed is to mention to any planning to resettle here that maybe the weather is resettling itself a bit! This Spring saw record high and record low temperatures within weeks of each other in Corvallis!
The latest report I have, though, is that Corvallis, after a longer-than-usual wet cold "sucky" Spring, is gorgeous right now. I wonder when I'll be able to come for another visit!
March 11, 2008
One thing wonderful about Corvallis that I have only mentioned in passing are the wonderful sequoia trees. Maybe I am so partial to them partly because, except for their size, they are the oboes of the tree world. The oboe differs from the clarinet in shape in that it has a taper to it - the oboe is markedly narrower at the top than at the bottom.
Now imagine a one hundred foot oboe, with its flared bottom and delicate top, and put a whole bunch of beautiful branches with flat arbor-vitae-like evergreen "leaves" on it in a soft slightly gray green. Voila! And sequoias can get much bigger than that!
Avery Park on the south side of Corvallis has a rose garden with a "fairy ring" of these trees. Or should I call it a "wizard ring?" There are other of these gorgeous, sometimes huge trees around town. If you haven't lived around or visited sequoia country, perhaps it is time!
March 9, 2008
Go north on 9th in Corvallis, east on Conifer, then turn left onto Lancaster and you will run into the Jackson-Frazier Wetlands. There is a boardwalk over the marsh (and sometimes water - keep a good hold on your three-year-old!) that is a great place for short family outings. We went there yesterday and saw crows, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, geese, robins, mallard and another kind of duck I don't know, scrub jays, chickadees and a ruby-crowned kinglet. There were lots more birds to be heard, but I couldn't spot them.
According to one information board along the walk there are many more birds to see, but if you want to see some of them you better go at a time when there are fewer people around. Supposedly there are snipe and green herons there. The posted information includes a whole list of birds and tells what seasons you can expect to see them.
Since Corvallis is so often overcast in the early mornings, be sure to take a good set of binoculars that allows a lot of light to get to your eyes! Years ago when I took ornithology, we were required to have 7x35 binoculars. If you still can't see enough detail to identify your birds, try to get yourself between the sun and them. That way you are getting the maximum amount of reflection and not just seeing a blackish silhouette!
Even without binoculars you can see a lot of bird-life, and the managers of this wetland are trying to bring back some native species of plant life. Too bad I was obsessing so much about birds yesterday or I could tell you more about the plants I saw. I seem to remember some willows, and some red-twigged stuff. Considering the time of year, it was pretty colorful (but not with blossoms!)
If you want a real hike you might want to pass this up. This site offers something more on the order of a nature walk. A quite handy one!
March 8, 2008
The other day I dropped in on George and Ruth Chadwick to say hi. George told a great story about how he and his daughter Amy (hope I spelled that right!) caught the biggest fish at Duval Point on the inland side of Vancouver last year. They have a picture of the two of them holding up a 44 pound salmon!
George is a great story-teller. Evidently there was a last-minute drama when he had the salmon alongside the boat and daughter Amy tried to catch it in the net.
The salmon was in the net, but tore a hole through it! Amy leaned over to grab the net to close up the hole. The salmon was still in the net, thrashing, and Amy was teetering back and forth at the edge of the boat. She was about to go over!
At this point George stopped dead in his story-telling and, straightening up, spread his arms wide. After a dramatic moment he plucked in front of him with his right hand and resumed telling how he saved Amy from going overboard by grabbing the back of her jacket.
All was saved, including the fish (er, not from the fish's point of view, of course!) but I bet in real life there was no such dramatic pause! And a good thing, too!
Anyway, this year he gets to fish for a week - free!
March 6, 2008
Walking around Corvallis yesterday, I saw more beautiful camellias and got an intense hit (or five!) of the aroma of daphne.
I went to the Red Horse and was again amazed at the beautiful fern design they "drew" on the surface of the latte in my big red cup. There I saw a notice about the locally held Contradances, sponsored by the Corvallis Folklore Society. These are held at the Congregational Church in Corvallis on Saturday nights. (But not every Saturday night! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
If it is anything like the contradance group I belong to in Indiana, they will also do circular mixers and an occasional square dance. Unfortunately I can't go this time round because the next dance is March 15 and I will be gone. But I look forward to dancing here next time, if I get here before June. There are no dances in July or August.
There's also a dance in Newport on the same schedule, so heads up, residents of Newport!
I also saw a poster for a festival for Old Mill Center here in Corvallis for the same day, so March 15 might be a hopping good day here in Corvallis for the socially inclined!
March 5, 2008
Thinking of going to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, or picking up and moving to Oregon? Look out your window right now.
I arrived here in Corvallis night before last. Yesterday morning was damp and cloudy and cold. In the afternoon I took a walk in the sunshine. It was really quite crisp outside. I was glad I was wearing my winter jacket but there was no trace of snow. I saw crocuses, daffodils large and small, a pink-flowering tree (ornamental plum?) and pale pink camellias. I saw pieris shrubs in full bloom and rhododendrons budding up. Oh, and of course, there were lots of pansies blooming! (Here they can often be kept blooming through the winter.
Some people want to go to school in an exotic place but end up not being able to handle it for one reason or another. So look out your window and compare what you live with to what I have described here.
Corvallis is very green! (In more ways than the obvious!) If you enjoy horticultural variety this is a good place to come. There is a good-sized river (The Willamette) that borders downtown Corvallis (within walking distance of campus.) The Willamette Valley is the horticultural center of the U.S., so the landscape is dotted with tree farms and garden centers, fields of hops, grapes, tulips and vegetables against a background of mountains.
Look out your own window again. Do you think you can handle Corvallis?
February 20, 2008
I just read that Oregon has become the ninth state to recognize gay domestic partnerships. Well, that is a step in the right direction of equal rights for all. Congratulations, Oregon! Hope to see Corvallis again in March!
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