Sunday, March 22, 2009
Spring arrived two days ago in Wallowa County with warm temperatures (in the 50s), partly sunny skies and a gentle breeze until late afternoon when its started looking stormy and raining a little.
This morning it was trying to snow, just a little, without success, and the cold edge to the air is definitely gone, for now anyway. Winter never leaves the Wallowas without a fight, and I'm sure 2009 will be no different.
Wallowa Lake still has a skiff of snow on it, but I know the frozen water will melt a lot sooner than last year, when there was still ice on the lake into May.
I love seeing the brown, yellow and white landscape gradually change to green this time of year, but the lazy me hates to see the end of hibernation season, when the lawn doesn't need mowing, the big-event-every-weekend season hasn't started and the tourists haven't started arriving in droves.
At least everyone is hoping the tourists will arrive in droves again this summer.
The economy is bad here, as elsewhere, with unemployment up to over 15 percent in February, the highest since March 2001; it's hard to believe we had a record low unemployment in just 2007.
Businesses that closed last year and in the past few months were: D & B Auto (a big multi-county bankruptcy), Radio Shack/Dollar Stretcher (bankruptcy) and OK Theatre (a family situation) in Enterprise; and Shell Mercantile in Wallowa. The Joseph Little Store just announced it is closing, but apparently when the word went on the street, the owners got word from real estate folks that there are people looking for just such a business in Joseph. So we'll see.
In the meantime, Joseph's main grocery store is expanding its shelf space just a little and installing new check stands and scanners, and word is that things are better than last year in some businesses, such as the quilt shop. Maybe people are staying home and spending $$ here more. At least one of the art foundries has hired back workers it laid off.
Real estate isn't moving well, but prices aren't coming down much yet, either. There's a wait and see attitude about the summer. Last year, in spite of record high gas prices, the motels/hotels seemed to have a decent year, but visitors didn't spend as much in stores.
Anyway, I guess we're like every small tourist town in the country. Times are hard here, but people are used to hunkering down when they have to. All the mills are already closed, so at least that axe isn't hanging over every one's head.
When I decided to get going and write here again, I didn't know I was going to write about the stupid economy!!! I guess because of work, and the fact I'm writing about Family Foods expansion and Joseph Little Store closure, it was at the top of my head.
As I said, after semi-hibernating this winter (even work hasn't seemed as stressful as usual most of the time), it will be hard to kick back into a higher gear.
Sucking up part of my winter time was a welcome February vacation, with quality grandma time, plus a few days in Las Vegas, baby!
Also there has been Facebook, which I joined at Thanksgiving at Jenny and Lawrence's house so I could play word games with them. I just recently started back on in earnest, because my sister Laurie started playing Scramble and Word Twist with me, and I've also started putting together Facebook photo albums (the Wilke family, Little Jenny, Cousins etc) of old and more recent photos. The photo above is one of my kids when they were little in a traditional "cousins" photo, taken most times the Blanchet clan gathered.
I've also embarked on losing weight, as I reported in my New Year's Resolution post. I'm happy to report I am down almost exactly 10 lbs. since the first of the year. I wish it was more, but little by little ...
I'm looking forward to a possible Easter weekend trip by the Herman clan to Joseph, and if that doesn't work out I'll make another grandma trip to Tigard this spring.
Anyway, I'm back, and I plan on writing more frequently, now that I'm coming out of hibernation.
Time to get back to spring cleaning!