Sunday, August 31, 2008

Obama has my vote

I am concerned with some democrats who expected Obama's speech to do everything plus have those code words that other politicians have used in the past and we have come to anticipate. One member on the democratic blogsite Hot Curry complained that Obama didn't ask for his vote. Some things are UNDERSTOOD! Obama has asked us to change Washington, to get involved intimately with this and all other elections, to be the change agents in our own lives.

So, to Hot Curry, examine the entire message from Obama. I agree, certain code words are standard verbage. But as a life-long learner of English I can tell you that the message can get lost when we insist on cliches and code phrases. And that's what you are doing, with due respect to your passionate point of view.

Obama will be speaking and sending out many messages. And some of them will feel like canned phrases we have come to expect. But let the Republicans do the swiftboating and the nitpicking. We democrats have higher standards of conduct and communication.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Hour

As a dedicated public service worker, I have always been a democrat, sharing a committment to help those less fortunate. Tonight's speech by Barack Obama will be a momentous occasion for those of us who have lived long enough to remember the other people who could motivate and excite us, who could unite and inspire us to ask the tough questions and dedicate ourselves to work together to benefit others.

Tonight, Barack is expected to speak not just to democrats, but to the nation, a nation that has suffered during the last eight years under an administration that has been incompetent and callous about the needs of ordinary Americans, and criminal about the needs of the veterans.

We must elect someone who is willing to change our domestic policies and reestablish our standing abroad. We must be clear in our vision. We must stay strong in the face of the smug lies that will be splattered all over television and newspapers to swiftboat the Democratic Contender. We must be clear in our pursuit of truth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama

It was the last scene of the evening, mother and daughters connecting with dad electronically, interrupting each other, sharing a fleeting moment. Barack asked the girls how Mom did. Good, Sasha said.

That was the moment I will take out of the entire convention. A family connecting, asking questions, congratulating, sending love and support. This is what we are all like, working and loving, day in and day out, catching fleeting moments to connect and support each other.

Michelle Obama was introduced as the little sister. She talked about herself as the daughter, the wife, the mother. She is all those roles, a vital link in any family and in any man's life. She is not the little wife, the woman who bakes the cookies and disappears until she is called again to serve. She is Everywoman, born out of necessity, like the pioneer women who forged the western frontiers alongside their husbands and children, pulling together, building the dream that became America.

We have forgotten those women. Those women represent all of us who put ourselves through school, put our husbands through school, pulled ourselves by necessity alongside our husbands to create a better life for our children.

Republicans want us to believe that women could stay home and just be moms. Not in my world, not in the world where it takes two salaries to provide a decent living condition, and it may just buy one house. America understands this family; their dream is our dream.

Her words spoke for all we stand for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Writing buddies

I depend on critical friends to help me with my writing. We meet on Mondays in Bandon, we read our creations out loud, and we listen to feedback,for discrepancies, incoherence, lack of flow. Most of all we declare that we like or dislike a piece.

It takes an act of faith to trust others to read your writing, to taste your food, to look and give you an objective view. Well, not your view, but theirs, so, it is objective to you, subjective to them. Sometimes you don't want the truth. The saying from that movie with Jack Nickolson shouting, "You Can't handle the truth", that saying is always in the back of my mind when I ask for feedback. Our acceptance of others' truth is directly related to our acceptance of their abilities to recognize good writing.

After a while together, sometimes years, writing buddies have shared their lives and careers,their hopes and dreams and challenges. They understand each other, accepting others' style and flaws. Then the truth gets dished out more carefully and delicately. Friendships can be bruised .

Writing buddies are best as motivators, as prodders, as reminders that time is running out. Each Monday, we count heads. We know who comes regularly, who shares regularly, and we wonder about the others. Are they sick, did something happen to them or their families? We experience a communion of sorts that feels so different from anything else. Dreamers need others to dream with them.

A teacher might read my pieces and concentrate on the structure, the development, the choices of imagery. A writing buddy would get past all that and just say: "I like that." Or, " I didn't get it!" And we would to return to the writing with those insights, those kernels of truth. Best days are those when we get an applause, a thundering approval telling us that our work was appreciated. Just like good food, I guess.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacationing on the Oregon Coast

The World Newspaper had a great write-up recently on the local farmers, people who have decided to go back to farming or started farming and producing food for locals. We have already known Abby's greens and the chickens from Joe Pestana. I'm sure there are more people out here that we can connect with for mutual benefit.

Ever since I've been cooking with Martha's fresh eggs, we have been having these small rendez-vous, my hubby and me, experiencing farm tastes and farm flavors without the bother of farming. Some bother is good, though, to help us appreciate the work and the sweat and the caring that goes into food production.

Next time my grandchild and friend visit us, they will exoerience a farm-food connection they'll never forget. We'll pick vegetables and herbs, visit the chickens for eggs, and help with the preparation of food before sitting down to enjoy the labor.

They'll be tired, and hungry. And they will know what real, unpackaged food tastes like. Who needs to go to Provence for French food when we can gather the lavender on our hill and mint from our patch, mix it with our blueberries, add a touch of cream and voila, bon Dieu, c'est la belle vite sur la mer. Or, as hubby says, life is good by the sea!

I might start a new career, farm-kitchen -summer -camp- for all grandchildren who come up from congested cities with smells of malls and sounds of crowded freeways, and plastic toys in their pockets.

They'll go home smelling of heathers and lavender, stained with red, black and pink berries. They will be awakened by the thundering Pacific hitting the rocks and teasing the shore lines. The surf will spritz the grasses and chase the gulls. Ducks,blue herons and ospreys will compete with the sun for worshipped attention.

And they'll have shells and agates and multicolored pebbles and sticks and sea stars in their pockets. At wash time, their mothers too, will get a glimpse and a sniff of the Oregon vacation the girls experienced

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New roles for retirees

In these times, people think of growing old as the time to be selfish. I don't remember selfish old people in any books. In ancient civilizations, old people were venerated, listened to. In our world, we see them on the beaches of Florida or the casinos of the west, admitting that they like doing nothing but have fun.

Making it to a point when we longer have to work seems like a financial paradise of sorts. But, since we spent so much time working and complaining about it, we have lost the thread, the real role we should be playing at this stage in life.

Our role has always been that of teachers, wise guides for the next generation. We helped care for the children; we taught them the ways of the world. We assisted the young generations in making decisions and navigating difficult waters. We admitted our mistakes and listed our accomplishments and told the truth about life. That role made us valuable in the circle.

This last week, when my grandchild and her friend were visiting, I was the doting grandmother, spoiling them and letting them off with bad habits. It was wrong for me to let the girls stay up late watching television. Even on vacation, there are house rules for a good reason. It was wrong for me to let them serve themselves cookies whenever they wished. Nutrition education is an ongoing lesson, delivered on all fronts.

It was late in our visit when I told her that what she eats will affect her health for the rest of her life. She probably knows that already, but how many people need to tell her these things before she is convinced? I said something about manners and good habits also late in the visit.

I have become self centered in my old age, forgetting my role in life, not just with my grandchild. There will be many retirees in the next decade, and we have roles to play in reminding everybody what is worth preserving and what is important for living a good life. Who else has the background and the experience?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What to do on the Southern Oregon Coast

This week I had my pre-teen grandchild and her friend visit us from Los Angeles. Their passtimes in order of frequency are: talking to each other and others via texmessaging or phone, reading, computer activities, shopping, and sleeping.

Whatever we had planned for them to do with us, old and slow grandparents, could not interfere with above activities.

The good thing about pre-teens is that they can multitask better than anyone. So, on our drives to shopping, they would utilize their phones, computers and books. We shopped at book stores, used ones, where books are inexpensive and abundant. Besides, no sales taxes in Oregon made the purchases even more attractive.

Then, we sqeezed in some purely outdoor fun, the kind that you can only experience here on this windy coast.

We took them on a Rogue River adventure, with Jerry's Jet Boats. The whole day was spent getting wet, sloshed by waves, and avoiding dangerous rocks. Disneland has nothing like this. And yes, we saw bears, eagles, ospreys, turkeys, ducks and more wild life up front and personal. The folks at Jerry's had it all planned, including the rest and food stops and the water fights with kayakers.

The Bandon horseback riding on the beach caused the girls to make plans to move to a farm and have horses. I didn't want to bust their hopes explaining the tasks of taking care of animals. These children have grown up with virtual pets. But I think just the smell of horses brought them close to real pets.

The Floras Lake Windsurfing experience was another unexpected delight. I thought, for sure, that they would give up the lessons after the first hour, after the spills, after they began to get cold and tired. But the folks at Floras Lake windsurfing had it all figured it. They provided a one-on-one coaching, with plenty of support staff to shuffle the girls back to safe waters whenever they got a bit too carried away by the wind power. The day was actually perfect for beginners. The serious windsurfers remained on land, waiting for the wind to pick up. But it was just right for our novices. Surprisingly, after two hours or up and down and pulling and balancing on a board with a sail that they had to pull up after it fell and pull themselves up with it. after all that effort, they wanted to return in the afternoon for more. And they did. And the day was glorious for them and for us. We watched and worried. But we saw their coaches right next to them, fussing and directing their moves, encouraging, adjusting their manuvers. We were getting a front row seat view of man versus nature struggle, with none of the real dangers, and all of the fun. This experience cannot be duplicated on any lake in Los Angeles. And did I mention that they had one-on-one coaching from a grandfather and his grandaughter the same age as our girls? It could not have been planned any better. My appreciation to them and to Will Brady, the owner and manager of the outfit. After the girls warmed up in the sauna and returned home, they asked us to sign them up again for next summer. This time for more than one lesson.

These are the jewels we have on the coast that are not seen often. Most of us will collect agates on the beach and watch the surf. Those activities will be enough to rebalance us and refresh our minds. The girls will remember these riches the rest of their lives.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stop before you unravel my world!

We can actually drive up the coast from Port Orford and visit 'our' farms! Well, not really, but farms that literally nourish us. We can point to the cows in the Browns' pastures, the blueberries in the Jensens'grove that looks like a great, big grand piano from a distance, the chickens and their eggs that Martha delivers to me weekly, the greens that Abby tends so lavishly.

These are close,immediate and peaceful places that thrive or dive into the same weather patterns that hit us out at Capo Blanco. When the hurricane winds last December closed streets and blew off roofs, the farm families had to worry about the crops and the animals stressed and blown all over.

We are close to water sources and food sources, and we understand the connectivity of all physical and cultural factors.

When railroad companies decided to close their routes to Coos Bay, when air carriers decided to stop the connections to Portland, they disturbed the necessary relationships in a modern society. The world depends on each one of us having abilities and tools so the the food can travel where there are no farms, the wood can reach people who are building homes and businesses, the information can be shared in a timely way to improve everybody's lives, and people have access to medical and commercial facilities necessary for the smooth functioning of society.

When people visit my town and marvel at the wild rivers and the pristine beaches, when they eat the fish and chips at Crazy's and are amazed at such delicacies in a hamlet so far from centers of commerce, when they recreate in the woods, on the dunes, on the golf course, on and around the rivers, and wish that these places remain intact and pristine forever, they can get their wishes fulfilled if they understand that we all must act in concert, support industries and living wages, spend money in research and development, and invest in maintaining pristine places.

Oregon has been in the forefront on the race to preserve the environment. Oregon legislature should make sure that these places we love and cherish remain alive and vital and connected.