Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pacific Northwest Part 3 - Portland and the Oregon Coast

No luck with any campsites between Vacaville, CA and Portland, OR.  We stayed night 3 of our trip in a motel in Willows, CA and ate a nice dinner at the Black Bear Cafe there.   We stopped for gas just across the Oregon border, and if we thought we were safe from colorful characters, we were immediately proved wrong.  A shirtless young man with shoulder-length dreadlocks came running towards our car with a look of ecstasy on his face.  At the last possible moment he veered off and began singing something incomprehensible at the top of his lungs.  The last we saw of him, he was driving away to parts unknown.

Our first excursion in Portland was to the world famous Rose Garden.  My amateur pictures cannot possibly do justice to the acres and variety of roses there.  The seductive fragrance of thousands of blooms surrounded us and could only have been made more perfect by the addition of a pot of herbal (maybe rose petal?) tea and several squares of dark chocolate.

The Pearl District in downtown Portland, is a must for window shopping, unique souvenirs and artisinal treats.   My friend and I enjoyed the many quirky clothing and jewelry boutiques, stopped in at Lush for a hand treatment and to spy on their all-natural soaps and personal care products, collecting information and ideas for my shop - Mrs. D's Homestead.  We spent just as much time at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe, sampling their gourmet cocoas and sinful desserts.

After a day of rest and recovery, we proceeded to take a tour of the Oregon coast, stopping first at the Tillamook Cheese factory for fortification.  Though guided tours are available, we went through the museum on our own.  The high-tech mass production of cheese was interesting to me, however, being a cheesemaker myself, I was more interested in the ancient artifacts of old-fashioned cheese-making science in the display cases.  Somehow 2,000 gallon vats of temperature controlled milk do not seem, to me, like they will ferment and age into the flavorful rounds I enjoy when my cow is lactating.  Although, when she is not, Tillamook is one of my favorite choices, due to its' simple, natural ingredients list.  Exiting the museum, we sampled several kinds of Tillamook cheeses, my favorite being the simple, white, buttery tasting curds.  Of course, we could not continue our coastal expedition without a generous portion of creamy Tillamook ice cream apiece.

When we finally found a spot where we could enjoy the beach, we stopped and spent an hour strolling, building sandcastles, and soaking up the sun.

Nehalem Bay is the place to go for crabbing, crab boils, and general relaxing and people watching by the water.  The bait shop at Jetty Fishery offers full crabbing packages, with license, bait, nets and boat, or you can catch them off the dock if you prefer.  We weren't dressed for a day out on the water, so we had our crab boiled for us and gorged ourselves at the picnic tables in front of the campfire.  After cracking, slurping and sipping for what seemed like hours, we were all ready to take a nap.  So we did, while our fearless driver slurped coffee and took a brisk walk to renew his energy.

The final destination on our coastal tour was Astoria, Oregon, where Captain Robert Gray discovered the Columbia River in 1792 and near where Lewis and Clark camped near the end of their expedition.  The location is marked with a 600 foot tall, narrow tower that can be climbed for a fantastic view of the bay.  Or so I'm told.  I preferred to stay on the ground, and decided I had a perfectly lovely view from there.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Health Care Conscience

So here is our upcoming dilemma.  Buy health "care" coverage and pay for someone else's birth control, sterilization, abortion, etcetera, or refuse to participate in any coverage and pay hefty fines.  Not only are individual Catholics being forced to make this choice, but so are Catholic employers.  Which means bishops.  Which means finally we are hearing about this from the pulpit.  I am not going to ask why this was not such an issue when only individual Catholic faithful were going to be affected.  I am just glad to hear it finally being addressed.

I don't know what the big boys are going to do, but for us little guys, the ones in the pews, who do not have insurance provided by our jobs, cannot afford to purchase our own plan, and do not want to go on the government provided "pofolks" plan, what are the options?  Are there any?

My understanding of the health "care" reform law is that everyone is required to have a "health plan".  This means no more cash-as-you-go negotiations with your doctor.  But does it also preclude "no-insurance" doctors and clinics, sliding scale clinics, and programs such as Samaritan Ministries and Medishare? (see links below)

I want options.  I don't want to be forced into a "health plan" I can't afford, or that goes against my conscience.  I don't want to be forced into a government program which may require me to have procedures or medications I don't want or that go against my conscience.  Or on the flip side, which may deny me procedures or medications which I need.  Our "health care reform" continues to need reform.  It is not good enough to be law yet.  It must be repealed, reworked, and resubmitted for our approval before it is forced upon us.

Yes, I will include the intention to repeal the health care law in my rosaries.  I will fast on Fridays for this intention and ask Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception to intercede for us as well, as our bishop has requested.

In the meantime I will also investigate these other options, as I would like to find some kind of health care that works for me anyway.  I also pray that perhaps our own Catholic Church (gasp) might come up with a plan for individual Catholics to receive affordable, acceptable health care.  After all, haven't our last 2 popes been preaching that to us for years?  Certainly this is not just the responsibility of the government.  Maybe our "Catholic" hospitals can be of greater service to --- Catholics?  Just thoughts.

And some links to investigate.

No Insurance Doctors
For a monthly (very low) fee, all the basics, but you need to find a doc in your area.

Samaritan Ministries
Monthly contribution based on family size and income.  Distributed among members according to need.  Submit any doctor/hospital bill above regular doctor's visit.

Christian Care Medishare
Similar to above.

Still trying to figure this one out.  Appears to be a monthly fee type for basic care, but having a time getting details.  Have not answered my email yet.