Friday, July 25, 2008

A citizen of the world

McCain and Obama have a different world view and who is chosen to be our next president will face a world that has changed in the last decade at a speed none of us saw coming; yet, our world view tends to stay the same.

When Barack Obama addressed the world in Berlin, he spoke as a citizen of the world, with concerns for the entire globe and its problems. He connected present and past history and challenged the Europeans as well as his compatriots to view the world as interrelated.

We'll all gain if we look at solutions and options rather than maintain rancors and old beliefs. Barack Obama has challenged us to go the distance, to work at solutions together, because one country's ills and problems will touch us all.

We can begin the conversation in our towns and we can carry it to the entire world with one hit on the computer, instantly communicating in multiple languages to a world that is not confined by national borders. When we sit down at dinner tonight, enjoying the Alaskan salmon, the California wine, the Chilean mango salsa, the Mexican salad mix and the Italian biscotti, we need the assurance that our food is safe, the environment was not harmed, and no human being was abused.

We can't ignore health issues around the world. We can't ignore human rights and labor issues. We can't ignore poverty, hunger and lack of education. These issues will harm us in ways we can't even assess.

Finally, our future leaders must have the sensitivity and awareness that match the challenges in our world.

And, as we look at the Olympic ceremony in the smog and pollution of Bejing's environment, we will all be reminded that the conversation should always been about global consequences.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Home, sweet home...

I can't wait to leave town; and I can't wait to get back. It turns out that everything I have now I have always wanted. I'm talking about living in a small town on a gorgeous sliver of the Pacific coast.

For decades, we'd pack our kids and our camping gear and head up to Oregon from Southern California, to spend two weeks appreciating breathtaking sights. We made it up to Astoria one year, awed the whole time we were driving, we coveted the coves and the sea views at every corner of the 101 Highway. We have camped up and down this coast for years, and it was just natural, when we began to plan our retirement, to choose this coast as our final destination.

No matter where we visit, and what we see in other cities, we can't wait to return and resume our daily routines in and out of the house, the weather never pushing too hard to keep us in or out. We feel priviledged to have landed here in Southern Oregon, the Pacific on the West, the wild rivers mapping the land on the East, inviting us to the great outdoors.

We can canoe on the rivers and the lakes, swim in various warm spots, fish, crab, clam, garden and walk. If that is not enough, we can sit back and watch the osprey, the pelicans, the jays and the deer as we sip an Oregon Pinot and thank God for our good fortune.

I am home, and I'm not in a hurry to leave. And did I mention the friendly people?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How they do it in big cities

This month, we have spent time visiting Eugene, Portland and Seattle.

All these cities have one thing in common: freeways and traffic. I am amazed at how the entire west coast is still dependent on the automobile to navigate. Didn't we learn anything in the two-hundred years before the west was won?

I like Portland's public transportation; the various mid city neighbors can move around by hopping on a metro rail, or walk or bike.

Seattle feels burdensome. First, visitors cannot afford to stay downtown. So, to see the sights or to get on a tour bus, we need to drive on freeways,find parking, pay dearly for that, and then hope to get in and out of places by walking or getting on a bus.

In these days of high gas prices and global warming concerns, we need to help the average Joe get to work and back easily and inexpensively. The average Joe needs accessible, clean, and well maintained transportation that encourages him to leave his car at home and reduce all congestion.

As I make my way back to the south coast of Oregon, I will not miss the cities. (Well, just a little.) I will return to my hamlet where I can walk to the post office, the church, the grocery store. And, yes, the beaches. I hope my town stays that way. But when it starts to grow, I hope we plan its growth carefully, creating its arteries carefully and beneficially.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gardening on the coast

I've been coaxing my six tomato plants for the last two months. I planted three types outdoors in pots, and two in the sunroom. Both sets have grown tall and lanky with few flowers. The warmest place is a south-facing deck, warm enough in the past to coax cherry tomatoes into maturity. Not this year. This year is cooler, and the tomato plants are unsure about their future. At this rate, they are just vines with tiny flowers and pungent smells. Perhaps they will attract bees and birds.

All my summer plans to grow yummy ingredients for pizza and salsa have changed. I will drive the sixty miles to the farmers' market and buy other people's successes.

My respect to all growers out there. And my respect to restaurant cooks who can only prepare good food if good ingredients are available. It only takes a salmonella scare to make us appreciate the work of others.