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Valley Voice Contributor

Yesterday I when I passed through town, I was blown away (pun intended) to see the sign no longer upright in front of Deb’s Cafe. I craned my neck and saw that it was still there and it immediately made my mind start wondering: was there to be a new sign, had the Cafe changed hands, or what happened?


I gave Deb a quick call and found out that the sign was blown over in the most recent big windstorm. Deb couldn’t believe it. There it was, not only blown over, but pulled out entirely of the ground, concrete and all. The sign has been in place since 1997. She is waiting at this point for the insurance company to give the go ahead to fix it, and apparently unlike on TV where they do it in only moments, in real life it takes a little longer. So, the sign will be back, not to worry, we just don’t know when.


While on the phone with Deb, I took an extra few minutes to catch up and get refreshed on things. She first purchased the restaurant on March 8, 2006. She initially had a business partner and bought him out, becoming a sole owner in February 2011.


Come March 3, 2021 she will celebrate ten years as sole proprietor. “Celebrate” might be too strong a word, due to the COVID pandemic. Her business, which she traditionally closes from about Christmas Eve to mid-January, had to be closed 2 weeks early due to government mandate, when Benton County went into an “extreme risk” phase due to so many positive Covid-19 cases. She re-opened this year on January 13 but is still government mandated to be “to go” only. As an aside, she tells me that when able to open for business indoors, they have been very careful with everyone using masks except while seated eating at their table. They were masked while coming in and going out and even for a trip to the restroom. They have also added extra cleaning precautions to assure cleansing of germs. With “to go” only, her business income is far less, as are most restaurants, and she looks forward to being able to open on a day to day basis for in-house service, ASAP! She says, “It’s hard to be open, and try to pay the bills, which are not lessened (and not even being given a break by tax agencies) when you can barely pay the employees.


So, Deb reminds us how important it is to support our local businesses and she enjoys your local support! Hours of operation are:

Sunday to Thursday 7-4 and

Friday and Saturday from 7 – 8 p.m.

Swing by and help out your local eatery.

Call 541-487-4424 to place your order.




Brad struck the wooden match on the seat of his work overalls and tossed it into the little pile of wood shavings on the rickety front porch. As the kindling burst into flames that quickly engulfed his old house and lit up the sky for several miles around, he thought about what a wonderful telescope he could buy with the insurance proceeds. He could use it to peer into that sky and see all the stars and planets and comets.

Yeah, right. Who would actually do a stupid thing like that? Would you? What crazy thing to do! Then I got hooked on amateur astronomy and the idea didn't sound so far-fetched after all. And, unlike Brad, who was beyond the age of being given a telescope for Christmas, I now have one in my living room in Portland, waiting for nights of clear skies. Thank goodness my husband used a Visa card instead of a lit match, though.

Remember when your kids were young? Remember the looks on their faces when they encountered something brand new in their world for the very first time? To little children, everything is fresh, new, and fascinating. I remember watching my son the first time he pushed the buttons on the remote control and the television actually DID something. Of course, now he's sixteen and tries to teach me how to use it. That's a lost cause, though. Too complicated. But, that's another story. My youngest daughter thought blowing soap bubbles was the most amazing thing she'd ever done, and my oldest daughter yelled with delight when she rode her bike without training wheels for the first time.

I think keeping in regular contact with these experiences is important in a child's development into an adult. But, when we grow up, perhaps marry and settle down into routines, something happens. Those moments of wonder and awe occur less and less frequently. When was the last time you jumped up and down with excitement or thrilled to something new that you'd never seen or done before?


Have you noticed that as we grow older, there seems to be less that is new and surprising? We have all seen so much in our lifetimes. One writer said it is the curse of a good education and a sharp, receptive mind that by middle age, you know a great deal and by old age you have seen it all. "Been there, done that." "There's nothing new under the sun."

There's always more for us to know than we can ever take in, but the experience of surprise usually comes less often. Maybe we even become inclined to see a gorgeous sunset, rank it against all the others we've seen, and perhaps even give it a number, like "I'd rank that one no more than a three."

 I thought about that on a plane ride back from San Francisco several months ago. We were just dropping out of the heavy clouds into Portland at dusk when I happened to gaze out the window at the most fantastic sunset I'd ever seen. There were no clouds or overcast sky to interfere with the view. I watched as the brilliant coral-red sun dipped below the horizon, and thought about how lucky I was to have glanced out the window at just the right time. However, when I pointed it out to my seatmate, he just shrugged and went back to his science fiction book, Heinlein's Sail Beyond the Sunset. I kid you not.

That sounds like I'm congratulating myself, doesn't it? But too many times I've found myself resistant to opening to those experiences of wonder and awe, almost defending myself against those opportunities in my daily life. Perhaps it's because the surprise that comes with wonder is a little disturbing. It changes my expectations about reality. Maybe I'll expect things to always be that way. Maybe I'll get so used to those brilliant sunsets that I'll insist on them all the time "Hi. I'd like to reserve a full-blown sunset for my next plane trip. Please make it visible from the left side of the plane so I can see it from seat 11A."

And the experience of fear that comes with awe sometimes troubles me because it makes me feel I'm somewhat in danger. Haven't we all seen things we consider awesome? Natural disasters such as fires or storms, or things we consider completely impossible. We just don't expect things like that to happen. When they do, they sometimes make us a little fearful in their power.

Luckily, I have a friend with telescopes and aperture fever. Oh, that's needing and wanting bigger and better telescopes, kind of like a quilter needing and wanting more and more fabrics or a woodworker needing and wanting more and better tools. I've lost track of how many he actually has, but, that's not the important thing. What's important is the actual experience.

One late summer afternoon, he packed one of his larger scopes, an l8-inch Newtonian, into the back of his green Ford pickup truck, and we drove up into the Southern California high desert. We spent about an hour setting up the scope, then sat down into folding camp chairs and waited for the sun to go down and the first stars to appear.

Like Brad and his friend, we, too, did some of our best talking while sitting there in the dark. "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight." Remember that one? What did you wish for?

Another poet puts it this way: "Why am I always surprised when you tap me on the shoulder and steal my breath as I look up and lose myself in a cloudless starry night? The impossible distances and the infinite emptiness bring a gentle shiver as the earth radiates into space. The universe is more than my imagination can bear. Yet in witnessing the meteoric streak, I am comforted. I reach for a handful of black loam and feel my immortality." I found that poem after our sky gazing, after my friend focused the telescope on several planets. After I saw not only Jupiter, but four of its many moons. After I saw not only Saturn, but its awe-inspiring rings that I had up to then only seen in photos. After I saw the craters of the moon up close and personal. After I became completely entranced and captivated by what I saw.

"The universe is more than my imagination can bear." So true. You know, what seems to be most amazing is that everything that exists in that universe came from a common origin. The material of your body and the material of mine are related because they emerged from a single energetic event. We are the first humans to look into the night sky and see the birth of stars, the birth of galaxies, and the birth of the cosmos as a whole. It still makes me shiver a little to realize that the light from the stars I see today left those stars thousands, maybe even a million years ago. It is all so wondrous and awesome, almost too wondrous for mere words.

There is always much more going on than we can know or comprehend. There are moments when we have to let go of trying to change or control the world and accept the reality in which we find ourselves. Experiences of wonder and awe open doors which invite us to greater experiences of living than we have known before. And when we embrace and welcome those experiences, when we accept their reality and integrate them into our being, we, too, can be transformed.

But, there's more to it than that. I've also found that it's important to share those experiences of wonder and awe with others. My friend helped me see Saturn and Jupiter. On other visits, we've stopped many times to help people aim their scopes and binoculars in the right direction, to see awesome sights up there in that night sky. With practice, I'm now able to focus a scope on planets and galaxies so that other people can experience the same breathtaking joy I had for the first time. It's wonderful to see their faces light up (by the light of a red-filtered flashlight, of course) and hear their almost childlike bursts of awe and wonder. I've actually been able to render two video-game complacent 16-year-old boys speechless just by showing them Saturn. The real thing. That's worth every bit of the cold and dark.

If we remove the dark glasses and blinders of all our past conditioning and programming, we will discover every aspect of existence is filled with wonder. Seeing the magnificence of life in all its forms can inspire awe of what we have the privilege to witness. If we let the wonder and awe we witness work through us, it will bring us in touch with joyfulness and gratitude for all creation.

Walk around in the dark. Maybe even shiver a little from the cold. But most important of all, look up. Look up through large and small telescopes at views such as the Martian ice cap, the beautiful blur of the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way, and open clusters.


Look up at that celestial crown. Look up and experience what Sharon Begley describes as the "possibility that there is a world beyond the world that we see, that there is meaning in the void and a harmony between the mind of man and the limitless reaches of space." Experience wonder and awe again and again. To me, there's no other way to live and share the one life I've been given. I hope it can be that way for you as well.

Happy New Year!



Can You Tell the Difference?


In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, flu season is here too and both viruses will be spreading over the next few months. If you get sick, how do you know whether you have the flu or COVID-19?

There are more similarities between the two illnesses than differences, including their symptoms, making it difficult to know which virus you have. If you become sick, experts recommend that you call the doctor with your symptoms and begin to quarantine. A test may be necessary to determine which virus is making you ill.

Some of the differences are that COVID-19 spreads more easily and causes more serious illness in some people. If exposed to the coronavirus, it may take longer for you to show any symptoms and you can be contagious for a longer period of time.

Also, there is a vaccine to protect you from the flu, but no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 at this time. It’s more important than ever to get your influenza vaccine. A rush of both illnesses in an area could make it hard for doctors and hospitals to care for a sudden surge of sick patients. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all people 6 months and older get their yearly flu vaccine.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue and in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. The symptoms of COVID19 closely mirror flu symptoms but may also include a change in or loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 emergency warning signs include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, not able to awaken or stay awake and bluish lips or face. If someone has any of these signs, you should get emergency medical care immediately.

Also, it is possible to have both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time which could lead to more serious illnesses and even death.

Those at highest risk for either illness include older adults, people with underlying medical conditions or women who are pregnant. Healthy children face a higher risk for complications from influenza. Infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for both.

Both COVID-19 and flu can result in serious complications, some of which include pneumonia, respiratory failure, fluid in the lungs, sepsis, heart attack or stroke and multi-organ failure. Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain.

What can you do to help stay safe and prevent these viruses from spreading? Follow the recommendations we’ve all known about since the onset of the pandemic:

  • masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. Masks should be worn by people two years and older. Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

  • Stay home as much as possible, avoiding close contact with others.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home if you’re sick.


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.



Red Cross Heater.jpg

It’s that time of year when people turn their heat back on if they live in parts of the country that see cooler weather. As temperatures start to dip, the American Red Cross urges families to be cautious when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months.


  1. Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.

  2. If using a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.

  3. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

  4. Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

  5. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

  6. Cut down on heating costs. Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.

  7. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

  8. Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

  9. Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  10. Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.


HOME FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and to increase your chances of surviving a fire: create and practice a fire escape plan and install and maintain smoke alarms.

  • Home fire plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.

  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance outside your home where family members can meet after a fire.

  • Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year. Make sure that you practice that plan until every member of your household can escape in less than two minutes. 


Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for instant access to tips on what to do before, during and after a fire. The Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies app provides 7- to 11-year-olds with a free, fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies including home fires.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Six years ago, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries in this country. The effort, which began in October of 2014, is presently credited with saving 794 lives (as of September 30, 2020).

Home fires are the most frequent and deadliest disaster in the United States. Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


On average, seven people die every day from these fires and 36 people are injured. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.

In addition to saving 794 lives, the campaign has:

  • Installed over 2.1 million free smoke alarms in more than 892,300 homes across the entire country

  • Served more than 2.3 million people through home visits


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


Helpful Steps by The Red Cross


Valley Voice Contributor

For many of us, COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives and made everyday activities challenging. These changes, coupled with general uncertainty about the pandemic, can create feelings of stress, fear and nervousness. These feelings are normal, and people typically bounce back after difficult times.


Taking care of yourself and loved ones can help you cope and make your community stronger.

  • Stay informed with accurate, reliable information through trusted resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. Limit exposure to media coverage, especially for children, and avoid social media accounts and news outlets that promote fear or rumors.

  • Care for yourself and monitor the physical health needs of your loved ones.
    Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. If you are religious or spiritual, follow practices at home that provide you with comfort and emotional strength.

  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.

  • Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Unless you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19, going outside to exercise and walk pets is okay. In public, keep at least 6 feet away from others and wearing a cloth face cover.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Make time to unwind. Pace yourself between stressful activities and do something fun after a hard task.

  • Connect with others through video and phone calls, texts or social media. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

  • Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions, such as fear, anger, frustration and anxiety. Hold an image in your mind of the best possible outcome. Make a list of your personal strengths and use these to help both yourself and others stay emotionally strong.



People’s reactions appear in different ways, not only in the way someone feels, but in the way they think and what they think about — their sleeping habits, how they go about daily living and the way they interact and get along with others.


People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases at higher risk for severe illness

  •  and teens

  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers and first responders

  • People who have mental health conditions, including problems with substance use



Call your health care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.