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Columnist Sharon Nesbit gets the year started with musings about the Columbia River Gorge, homelessness, personal pronouns and pancakes.

I am more careful about the resolutions I make these days because I am a woman of weak will. The older I get, the more I think coddling myself is a good thing.

Sharon NesbitSo, flopping in the big ugly recliner to watch the Great British Baking Show is a reward I give myself when I am supposed to be dusting, cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming the crumbs out of my car seat.

The children gave me a self-operating vacuum for Christmas. It is supposed to come today. I will be like my friend Pam. I will read the instructions and set it up, but I will not trust it immediately. Any more than I would trust a new puppy.

In terms of coddling, I remind myself once again, that a drive up the Columbia River Gorge is a gift we can give ourselves. Especially in winter when the crowds are gone.

I drove Highway 14 on the Washington side last week. I always drive up into Schreiner Farms at Dallesport — across the Columbia River from The Dalles — to see what their animals are doing. The buffalo herd seemed happy and there was a Bactrian camel — the furry brand — flopped on the grass taking a snooze.

I stopped at Dickey Farms in Bingen to see if I could afford frozen huckleberries for a future pie. I can't. But I like to think about it.

Crossing the Columbia at Cascade Locks, I dig the change out of the console of my car to pay the $2 toll in coin. The ladies who work in the toll booth are polite, regardless.

And then, at Multnomah Falls in the trees along the river, two eagles sitting in the bare trees looking, well, as proud as eagles.

This is the time of year to go to the falls. Breakfast at the lodge on a weekday morning before the tourists arrive is a real treat. The volunteer hosts in the visitor center will tell you about the winter that the ice piled up and how high.

Back home, I have a pile of Christmas books to read. And two boxes of chocolates.

I volunteered in a homeless shelter Christmas week. A young woman arrived with a cat and many possessions in tow. The cat seemed perfectly happy to snug down on the floor of the church fellowship hall with his owner. I do understand the comfort of a cat, even when morning comes and you must take the cat's carrier, his dish, his food and your own necessities and go out into the street to find a way to spend the day.

If we do nothing else in 2020, let us solve this problem.

I come into 2020 perplexed in many ways. I am working on the word "they" as a singular pronoun, largely because Scooter refers to his lovely lady as "they." And if she wants to be a "they" I will do my best to comply. It is a singular problem. But the dictionary says it is correct so I will persist.

I still don't understand why people take weapons to parties and then use them. What kind of party is that? What ever happened to stinging wit? Pass the hors d'oeuvres and the ammunition.

And armed guards in church?

But I remind myself that despite the hysterics of television reporting, crime is going down and the weather is not nearly as bad as we are told. And that a country that survived a president like Warren G. Harding will surely survive this one.

Take a nice drive. Or a ride on a bus. Treat yourself to a German pancake at Elmer's. Think about what you will plant in the spring.

Happy New Year.


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