Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gawking Season

Starting this weekend, the highway will be crowded with RV's, cyclists and run-of-the-mill tourists, looking for a place to pull off.

Hwy 101 is a two-laner in these parts of Oregon.  People become irritable and insensitive after a few hours. They want to stop, walk on these beaches, find a restroom. And gawk.

The rest of us? We want to get to the hairdresser, school, work, at a good pace, say 45 to 55 miles per hour.  Tourists forget that people have a life that demands appointments made and kept.
How else do you account for their hypnotic looks?  One curve after another on this stretch of the 101 reveals one beautiful set of coves after another.  Sky, sea and forest share kisses and flotsam, intimately connecting all points of the compass  to eternity.

More accidents occur in the summer months when roads are clear of rain and ice and fog than at any other time. It must be all that gawking.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Really Counts: Part Two

Take a wide stance and point out what counts in your life. (This is hubby pointing to Notre Dame's Cathedral -- our twentyfifth anniversary trip to France after forty years of marriage. Some things can be postponed only so far!

Some passions will motivate you for decades.
Some, will break your heart right away.
If you don't know what you can't live without, then you have not taken a good inventory.

Take a look around you. 
If you had ten minutes to escape an impeding disaster, what would you take?
Your mother's broach, your father's book, your children's pictures, your writing, your money......

What would you miss the most?

That's how you find what really counts for you.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Really Counts

If you are a little crab washed ashore after a big wave tore you from your feeding spot, what matters is to  scamper back in your sand hole before the next wave pushes you so far out, you become somebody else's food.

A  bit deeper than before, so the next wave doesn't tear you from your spot again, while you're still in shock.

If you swallow too much alcohol and are numbed by the experience not to see the wave that will knock you down, and manage to walk away from the water and reach safety, do as that little crab did.  Double up your efforts to stay sober and to stay away from precarious ground.

What really counts is not to be happy.
Happiness is illusory.
Not to have possessions.
Possessions lose their glint the minute they are possessed.

What really counts is to learn from each experience and live fully aware every minute of our lives.



Sunday, May 16, 2010


Sitting here at dawn, remembering sixtyfive plus years lived on two continents, thousands of people met along the way, a thousand more sitting in front of me in those classrooms that were always too hot or too cold, sitting here feels as though I've been watching a movie about to end.

Many times, I didn't feel in control at all. Many times, I felt like the victim of circumstances, eager to leave Dodge, (for non-Americans, this expression means to get out of town fast!) eager for the children to grow up, the husband to finish his P.H.D., my career to stop sputtering.

Decisions I almost made haunt me to this day. No, I could have, I should have done this or that.  Our lives have been intricate dances on high beams. The only important thing we had to remember was not to fall.  I can list many times when I almost fell. 

Yet, looking back, those tough situations are blurred in the context of the present.  We want to remember the good times, reprise the most delicious experiences in the movie version of our lives. 

So, there I am, a bright, beautiful thing, frozen in the picture my husband still carries in his wallet. I don't even remember that picture being taken.  What I remember was the hair cut, the short boy cut I donned ever since my girl was born, a good 35 years ago. The occasion was really a crisis point in our marriage. I had wanted to stay home and be just a mommy. Two months into the routine, I was bored and resentful. So,  I had decided to enroll in a graduate program in comparative literature. Since my husband was busy with his graduate work, I felt left out, crossed by negligence, discarded like the maternity dresses after the baby was born.  I wanted to feel in control again, alive with ideas. Most of all I wanted adult relationships.

The picture in the wallet means different things: for him, a beautiful young thing who followed him across the country; for me, something else.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going Up is Hard Work.

We went hiking in Josemite National Park during our honeymoon, forty- plus years ago.  We ran up steep hills, swam  icy lakes, forded tumbling streams.   Life was challenging, full of promise. Nothing could stop us. We knew nothing of dangers and challenges awaiting us.

We slept under the stars, in sleeping bags.
In the morning,  tell-tale signs that bears had been in our camp, eating up the contents of the cooler prompted us to check into a motel for the rest of the time.

Most of life is like that honeymoon night. Unless you have experienced bears rummaging through your camping area, you keep sleeping peacefully.

Ambitious goals take a long time to achieve, and a great deal of patience, perseverance and hard work. It helps if others can show us the way, if others have worn down the path, have created stepping stones and bridges across dangerous portions of the voyage.

It helps to have a companion to share the journey.

It helps to have resources and  good health.

It helps to have hope, faith, charity and a sense of humor.

It helps to have good habits and skills as cleanliness, healthy eating, knowledge of dangers, resilience, understanding.

We can be defeated by our challenges or be known for conquering them.

Life is all about conquering the heights.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

We've been there!

There is got to be something fishy about people who end up this far west of the Mississippi. Yesterday, while shopping in Coos at 3B's Nursery across the Coos River, we met Steven Michael, a young man with a penchant for talking and native plants.  He helped us choose woodland plants for an area frequented by deer.

He impressed me with his knowledge and helpfulness, and his interest in all things. He is a photographer and a traveler.

Fishy Ah?  A traveler who ends up by the westernmost point and has been everywhere. I wish I could say the same. Once, we wanted to travel all the time.

Now, we have too many requirements. We have become travel Divas.

Still, when we watch a movie like Iron Man (yesterday, at Coos, in a crowded theater where we had to take seats not to our liking) we recognized many of the sights. Yes, Malibu! There, New York!

Our bucket list of travel sights is enormous. We need to get going and not be derailed by bathroom remodeling or health issues.  Do you know that we haven't been to all of Europe, or all of South America, or none of Africa or the Middle East and Far East?

We are so inexperienced!
Moreover,  we're not very easy travelers when language or food can become big barriers.

So, meeting Steven was a joy. A young man who travels everywhere is living well, we thought. Good for him.

Do visit his blog by clicking this link: Oregon like no other

And take your Mother out of her kitchen and living room. Help her see the world. Remember, you were a detour in her life, a wonderful detour, but a very long one too. She probably never told you where she wanted to visit when she was your age.

Travel with her, and your lives will be forever linked.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Day at the Post Office.

Main Street, on the way from the post office where I pick up mail once a week or so. If you blink, you miss Port Orford.

We could spend hours catching up with people at the post office. You find out who died, who is being visited by whom, how many speeding tickets were handed out last week.

Did you know about those women on the beach?
No. What happened?
They got caught in a sneaker wave and pulled out to sea.
They found one. They're looking for the other. Both elderly. One lives right by you.
Who? Her? She's local. She should have known about the waves.

I share: we are redoing two bathrooms.
What? Didn't you remodel five years ago? Yes. Now, one of them has had a leak that caused a major problem and...
And the other one?
It never got remodeled. So...

Poor us, I go. All these expenses at a time when the house is worth less than we paid for it. Yeah!

What happened to that teacher at your school?
More sharing.

So, you are not cooking with all that mess at your house?
I'm cooking. I'm sick of cooking three hot meals a day; but, if I don't, we eat junk.
I saw you the other day at Crazy's.
I shouldn't have fish and chips. No. But I just can't resist it.
How are they doing?
They are now open again all week.

Are you still in Bandon's Writers' Group?
Yes. On Mondays. You write also, yes?
I used to. Well, gotta go. I have to run to Coos.
We were there yesterday to order tiles.

Tiles? Where are you putting tiles?
In the bathrooms!
Oh. Well. Give my best to your husband.
Yeah! Thanks.
Great! See you!
See You.

Life, Death, Remodeling, Food, Hobbies, Other Neighbors: Enough news for a week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Once We Were...Now We Are...

Once, we were young and carefree, limber and full of energy.
We were hopeful and spent money as though it grew on trees; thought raises came yearly, like rains and winds and taxes.

Once we could stretch our limbs  and touch every part of our bodies, thought we'd live to be 100, with
friends who sat and talked for hours; with more shoes than feet; with more coats than arms.

Once we ate everything and had all our teeth. We worried about hair and wrinkles and PTA's.
We had children running around and occupying every nook and cranny with their things.
We had things to organize; things to buy; things to do; things to give away; things to achieve.
We had more things to do than hours to do them in.

Now, the list is shorter.

Now, this moment, it's good to have any part of any list.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Time for the Soul to Catch up!

I didn't come up with that phrase. It comes from a poem by Erica Jong, featured at
Von's blog at the Poet Post link below. Do visit.

A good life: Poet post

When you sit down on a rock and admire this view, you'll understand.