ROUND TABLE: Taking joy in number five, one day at a time

Look out, lucky 7: Our friend 5 is in town.

Five seems suddenly cool. That’s the impression I got from a recent article, five paragraphs long, in the Oregonian newspaper on the wonders of the number 5.

“Five is memorable: five fingers on a hand, five toes on a foot. Human beings have five senses.”

The article goes on, referencing Jesus’ five wounds, five pillars of Islam, five books in the Jewish Torah, Buddhists’ five essential tenets and Hindus’ five elements

I’d never thought of it in universally-spiritual terms before. Someone had recently asked me if I had a lucky, or favorite, number, as many people do. My son Connal favors 22, and my friend Sam finds fortune in 4. Earlier this summer, upon turning 55, it occurred to me that 5 is my favorite number. Not sure about lucky — heaven knows I have enough superstitions.

But my birthday is June 5 and Lorre’s is Dec. 5, which I always took to be a charm. Further evidence: basketball is my favorite game, and the best game in the world (and the only purely American invention besides jazz) and the number of players on a basketball team is five.

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a guy sitting at the counter of a diner called “5 Brothers Café,” scowling toward the other end of the counter where the only other customer is being waited on — by all 5 Brothers. One of the quintet looks over and says, “You can just wait your turn!”

I would add a few other fave fives:

n “Take Five,” on Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out” is The Coolest Jazz Number ever written.

n Beethoven’s Fifth is the quintessential classical piece: one of those rare pieces whose first four bars — “duh-duh-duh-dummm” — are universally recognizable.

n “It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Five are the numbers of digits on each of our hands, and I am grateful for each one and how they allow me to do my work of writing at the keyboard and taking photos. Simple pleasures are the best.

And, there are five days in the work week, and so five is the number of vacation days I got last week. It was a case of Time Out and take five, indeed.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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