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Life Begins at 80...on the Internet
(Casting the Net from Au to Za)

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Never too old to meander the web
(or Me and da web)

Dear Bill. "I can never find anything interesting on the internet," you told me over lunch the other day. To show you (and many other over-50s) just how wrong you were, I'd like to tell you how I spent a pleasant hour meandering through the web after returning home.

First, I found a message on my Guest Map from Jacquie Schmall, of Milwaukie, Oregon. After replying to it, I fell to wondering why the name of her hometown has a different spelling from the better-known city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Googling Milwaukie I found a website which said: "Milwaukie is on the Willamette River. The community is believed named for Milwaukee, WI." But another site said " 24 Nov 1965, Milwaukie named by Pottawottamic tribe." About 35,000 people live in Milwaukie, which is a suburb of Portland.

Next I googled Milwaukee Wisconsin (population 600,000), and found an interesting story, "Beer made city famous but art, architecture are giving it pizazz" that Jane Wooldridge had written three years ago for the Miami Herald.

"If they could see this place now, Laverne and Shirley would tear the buttons right off their sweater sets", she wrote. "It sure isn't the Milwaukee those TV beer-bottlers knew." Her story continued:

A sleek modern gothic tower looms above the 19th-century banks and offices that are in cream-colored brick. The Brewers are cracking the bat in a smart new $394 million field with a retractable roof. The old warehouses down on the Milwaukee River have been transformed into art galleries, theaters, brewpubs and a hip museum of advertising design...

And on the shore of Lake Michigan, a half-block from downtown's stately offices, is a winged white mast --- an addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum that is arguably the most striking architectural statement in America in recent years.

Sure, they still brew beer here --- though most of the major breweries are gone.. But if you're thinking of Wisconsin's signature city as more cheesehead hamlet than urban enclave, it's time to turn off the reruns.Jackie Schmall's artwork - click to visit her web

Returning to Oregon, I visited Jacquie Schmall's website, which revealed that she is both a fine artist and an astute marketer of her art work. She has written a popular book, Who's Counting? Jackie's Guide to Staying Young and Having Fun, released last year. The publisher's blurb says:

Spokeswoman for a generation, Jackie is saucy, sassy, and sure of herself. Now she shares her wisdom for the ageless in Who's Counting?

So what does Jackie know that the young whippersnappers could stand to learn? She knows that life is too short to spend worrying over every calorie, every wrinkle, and every penny. She knows that too much of a good thing can be a very good thing. Most importantly, she knows that she can get away with anything!

In addition to her piquant observations and clever one-liners, Who's Counting? features hilarious full-color photos of Jackie at her rambunctious best. See her hanging tough astride a tricked-out motorcycle, flirting with tuxedo-clad men a fraction of her age, and laughing it up with a friend (at something off-color and hardly ladylike, no doubt).

There's a new and growing generation of women who are making "the good life" last and last, and Jackie is an outspoken champion for them all.

Duly impressed, I sent Jacquie this email: "I've just visited your website, and congratulate you on your artistry and enterprise. By the way, there's another talented artist named Jacquie in UK, who markets what I consider to be the world's best e-cards."

Within a few minutes came this reply:

I do know about Jacquie Lawson.....a distinctly talented and obviously lovely human being, and it's very rewarding to discover the many positive little nooks and crannies of the world through the internet!

BTW my son's name is Eric....always had a soft spot for the name. ^_^

I grew up in Connecticut. My son Eric and my daughter Valerie grew up on Long Island in New York. Way long ago I worked as the lead technician in the lab at Rockefeller University that participated in developing the first birth control pill. More recently I produced an Indie film, and love to be involved in the film and entertainment community. I adore writing and painting both....and best of all I get to live in the big beautiful northwest.

I was in Australia in 1987....had a fabulous time visiting with my childhood friend Gloria who now lives in Queensland. At the time I visited she lived in the suburbs of Sydney. However, when I arrived it was mid-winter......and I had been traveling in China, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong where the weather was sweltering. She was kind enough to whisk me off to Darwin so I wouldn't shiver the whole visit.

It is one of my dearest wishes to return and spend some time on the west coast near Broome perhaps, and then travel by train down the coast and across to Melbourne. Ahhhh.....a lovely dream

Before leaving Milwaukie, Oregon, I enjoyed reading this delightful tale about skookums and the Pudding River (two great names).

According to the Kalapuya Indians, long ago a hero named Tallapus (also called Coyote) came to the Willamette Valley from somewhere far over the Rocky Mountains. At this time, gigantic skookums (ogres) terrified the people of the Valley. Worse still, the Kalapuyas (people of the Pudding River) had no place to catch the delicious salmon that teemed up the Willamette River every season. Tallapus decided to provide fish for the people before he freed them from the worst of the skookums.

First, Tallapus tried to make a fishing place at the mouth of the Pudding River. This proved unsuitable so Tallapus moved on, leaving behind a small riffle at the place where the Pudding River meets the Willamette. Next--at Rock Island in the middle of the Willamette River--Tallapus created an even grander design. But this also was not quite right, and Tallapus moved on, leaving behind a strong rapid in the River.

Finally, from bank to bank Tallapus constructed the Willamette Falls. There he placed a wondrous machine to catch the salmon for the people. Tallapus instructed the fish-trap to shout out "Noseepsk, Noseepsk" whenever it became full of fish. But so great were the numbers of salmon (at one time said to be so many that a man could cross the river upon their backs) that the amazing machine called out "Noseepsk, Noseepsk" almost without ceasing.

Annoyed by the trap's constant summons, Tallapus told the machine, "Wait until I build a fire, and do not keep calling me forever". The wondrous fish-trap was so offended by Tallapus's anger that it instantly ceased to work for all time. Now the people must labor for their salmon but the Willamette Falls remains a scene of great beauty and the perfect place to catch fish.

[Based on "The Reminiscences of Louis Labonte" in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, 1901]

...The word for waterfall (tumwata or tumchuck) in the Chinook Jargon is based on the term "tumtum," or heartbeat. A tumtum is something's spirit or soul; to the local Indians, the waterfall was the tumtum of the river.

So ended my meander through the web, Bill. Take a look at some of the links shown below this story. If you don't find at least two of them to interest you, I'll be surprised ... and disappointed.

That word meander? I googled that, too. It's derived from the Greek Maiandros, the name of a river in Phrygia, noted for its winding course. The verb means "to flow in a winding course" (of rivers) and "to wander aimlessly" (of a person).

The Buyuk Menderes (Meander) River, 363 miles (584 km) in length, is the longest river in the Aegean region of Turkey. A Turkish website says "The river has so many turns and curves that its name contributed to international terminology."

There's another Meander River about 70 km north of a place called High Level on the Mackenzie Highway in northern Alberta, Canada. A Canadian website says:

Most residents are of native origin, belonging to the Dene Tha’ Band. The school, built in 1996, band office and the store offer the only source of full time employment to a very limited number of people. Many people commute to High Level for work.

Organized social activities are few. The new Band office offers recreation for the youth as well as the young adults. The community has a recreational hockey league as well as ball hockey and volleyball...

To sum up, Meander River is a quiet place to live.

Here in Australia, there's a small town called Meander. It's in the Meander Valley in northern Tasmania. A local website says Meander Men is "a group of men from diverse backgrounds who enjoy each other's company and singing. The songs are largely sea shanties, work songs and ballads, mostly of Celtic or English origins."

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Story first posted March 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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