Sunday, May 29, 2011

If I follow, I FOLLOW.

I don't get overwhelmed by crowds, forests, freeways.  I've followed as many as 180 people at one time. Yes! I stop at that number and I reassess every few months or so.  If I haven't heard from THAT person, and after visiting her/him I still don't get a visit back, I drop her/him.

Why 180?

Because that is the number of students I carried on the roll when I was teaching.  I was trained to keep track and study and encourage and know all those young people, who, after just a semester or year, they would change and move on.

So, I know the drill. People come and people go. While they are in front of me, we have a relationship of sorts. If they want to be invisible, it is not going to work too well.  Oh sure, they can lurk around and borrow some paper here, a picture there. I don't see their coming and going directly. But, I do notice their absence.

My question: why do people sign up to follow and never stop to leave a comment? We are not a newspaper. We are not a magazine either. We are blogs, relating personal stories and commentaries of personal significance.  I want to know how you live, what you eat for supper when you're tired, where you go on vacation, how frustrated you become with your partner. I want to know your habits, your tastes, your opinions.

I want to know how another human manages to survive in this forest called life.

Now. if you want to brag and list all your blessings and possessions, go ahead. I'll clap at the right point in the conversation. But, I may not hang around too long.  You see, I can listen to Mr. Trump and get the same over-the-top-I shouts. I can go to UTube and watch "How to stop cats from pissing on your car." for sheer entertainment value. Don't tell me what you paid for your merchandise, either. Stuff doesn't catch my attention.

Stories do.
Tell it to me in your words.
From your seat.

I'm glad you found me. Now, let me know you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Starting is the hardest thing..., you've thought about this voyage for a while, collected maps and instructions, read all the manuals in the local library, even, secretly made an outline.
I'm talking about writing your memoir.
The story of your life.
The path that got you to this point and no further.
Go on...pull out a piece of paper, pick up a pen, and get started.
You are still hesitating?
Join me at my other blog to take that step. Visit now, and write that first chapter:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

User friendly.

Doctor of everything.
Master of the physical universe.
Lover of all tools.
Connoisseur of machines.

He believes man's job is to lord over machines.
Me. I could live without them, and do my best work with simple implements.
For years, I needed nothing more.

When I retired and started writing, he bought me a tablet computer. On that tablet, I could write in long hand and with a few strokes, convert the handwriting to print.  Slowly, I learned the ins and out of that computer and began blogging.
Recently, that machine quit on me and Hubby decided I needed a major upgrade. In comes a new computer.

For weeks, I have not been able to upload new pictures, nor do simple editing on my word processing  new applications.Now, all my fingers want to do is go where they went before. No! They need to move differently, and learn positions all over again.  They need to be conscious and precise in different ways than before.  They need to adjust.

Hubby's work was to help people and machines work better together. Yeah. His job was to design  contraptions to be user friendly, even inventing phrases like 'user-friendly'.

How frustrating to have a wife who is an unfriendly user!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What we talk about when we pull weeds all day.

Around my block everyone is spending time outdoors, digging in, weeding, fighting  common pests.  In this watery world I live in, the biggest problems are slugs, birds, weeds and back pains.  Today, I'm right in this spot for a good part of the day, or until my sore muscles and aching back will cause me to return indoors to my easy chair.

A tender lettuce starter will be consumed by slugs in no time if I don't sprinkle eggshells all around and  provide netting to keep birds out.  Oh, I can use some commercial product that guarantees instant results. But, I'm concerned about  water quality, insects,  other animals that roam and feed on this land.  I just want to be able to taste this lettuce in a week or two, perhaps collect its seeds for another round.

The black cloth is porous, allows water through, but not light, thus protecting my tender shoots from invading weeds.  Here too, there are many commercial products.  My instinct is to resist any and all of them, especially in the light of what has happened to our seeds now that most of them have been engineered to resist herbicides. Imagine, a seed that controls its enemies!  But, the same seed cannot produce viable seeds. That is messing with the cycle of life and I want nothing to do with that.

To read about seeds and the progress we have made, and the problems associated with our commercial food production read Michael Pollan and go visit Sophie Munns at:

 Homage to the Seed

Happy gardening, wherever you are.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If only everything worked liked fava.

The picture is of my fava beans, two rows on the sides of my marionberry vines, too small at this time.

The rains have slowed down to once, twice a week, here in the Pacific Northwest.  We get to examine our gardens and begin planting at this time. Oh, some of us have been busy weeding and amending and  seeding too.  I want to tell you today about the easiest thing to grow, outside of radishes.

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, a cousin of lima beans, I think, are probably the least fussy of vegetables to grow in this sandy terrain that will soon become full of all kinds of weeds.  Fava are most delicious when picked young and cooked and served the way we serve peas.

But, I will not talk about cooking in this blog. (I do, however, in my  real food blog.)
I just think that fava are unappreciated; yet, they are the easiest thing to grow.

A. They like all kinds of weather. They can be planted as a winter crop, or an all season crop.
B. Bugs and birds leave them alone.
C. Leaves and fruit are edible raw, when young.
D. The entire plant, after harvesting the pods, can be easily tilled under. The roots develop numerous nitrogen fixing pods, and the entire stock can be roto-tilled easily too.

Imagine, a plant for all seasons, with no enemies, no downside at all.
I'm recommending that everyone grow a few rows this year. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A will? Why do I need a will?

Because you could slip and fall.
Because you could have a car accident, or...
We just don't know when our time will come.

Having a set of final instructions is the same as having a list of tasks for your neighbor to check on when you leave her in charge of your property as you gallop around another hemisphere.  She needs a list of do's, and a set of emergency numbers in case she needs permission to do more than you or she anticipated.

The first thing you need to write down are your final instructions on how you want to die.
Yes. When you are lying there in a coma, unable to communicate, how do you want to guide the conversation?  Do you want to be kept alive until....
Too scary?
Yeah. Way too scary for today.
It's sunny outside. I'll do this tomorrow....Bye.....

If you use Quicken Financial System, find the Willmaker application, and voila', you are taking your first step. 
That wasn't hard! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seize the Day!

When did you ever look good eating with such abandon?
Remember when your mother stopped you from taking her picture if she didn't have her make-up on?

Did we become less vain?
Or did we become more photogenic?
Perhaps our cameras are more forgiving.

Heck if I know!

Here, on a clear day in Port Orford, we are having lunch at Redfish.  Steamed clams and toast points. I believe that look was: "Ah, so good not to have to cook today!"
Going out to a great place like Redfish lifts my spirits.  A good glass of wine does the same thing.
I'm eating all the food I like.
Next year, I might be allergic to clams.
I'm seizing the day, while I still can.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More than a volunteer gig.

You can sit pretty under a gazebo and watch the action from afar. Or, you can jump in and help.  I'm talking about being helpful, providing assistance, volunteering.
When we moved here, I was very much interested in helping at the local schools.  I volunteered as a tutor in SMART, and as a member of various committees.

Then, I ran for the school board. I have served as chair and vice chair  for a total of six years so far.  The job is never dull. The problems we face are real and important. Especially now.  Looking at how public schools have seen their budget shrink, how classes are getting more crowded, how valuable programs are being eliminated, is enough to make us all scream.

Two of my three adult children are in education.  I hear their stories and compare them to those in this community.  Nobody is excluded from budget woes. When we hear about states controlling employees' rights to unionize, the problem is not just fiscal. The problem is philosophical. 

I'm remaining active in my community by sharing what I know; but, more importantly, I'm remaining active in a political sense too.  We all should stay involved in the services and the budgets of our communities, understand its main issues, and be part of the conversation at all stages.

How about you? How are you staying involved?

Monday, May 9, 2011


How much time do we have left?
To the next tsunami?
To our next vacation?
To the visit from our grandchild?
To the next medical emergency?

All of the above! How much longer before we die? Yes. After sixty, more than at any other time we calculate our life expectancy and the resources we need to make it there.  Yes, the thoughts creep in during a perfectly beautiful day with no pains and no worries. 

Creeping you out yet?

What if today was your last day?
What would you do?
How would you prioritize your day?

My husband would drive to a great restaurant in Napa Valley, California, six hours from where we are, to enjoy his last meal. He'd forgo his diet and even order off the menu . He'll have the best wine and the richest dessert.  He'll continue eating until his last hour.


I'd fret. I'd want to call my kids, tell them how much I've enjoyed having them, raising them, seeing them all grown and settled. I'll tell them to live their lives fully, to look forward to new adventures wherever and whenever these arrive, to love fully, to worry less. I would write down these last thoughts so they and their future children could retrace these days and find me here on these pages.

I have very few mementos from my parents. I have none of their  letters, and cannot account how they got lost or got misplaced.  We moved so much that many things got displaced.  I miss those words more than anything.

We have these marvelous tools at our disposal: cameras, paper and pens, recording devices for our voices, our faces. These things will become our legacy. Our words will capture  the things we talk about, the issues that kept us up at night. 

Yes, I would write on my last day.

The legacy we leave behind is not our wealth, our possessions.
It is the memories we have of each other; the words and the gestures that molded our lives together.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where we should invest.

Under all this grass is a thriving river spilling into a lake, spilling into the ocean.  These wetlands, once, were thought to be a nuisance, full of mud, unnavigable, too wet for construction, too dry for water way.  This little estuary, and those like it,  didn't seem important at all until we began to understand the value of wetlands, the value of intermediary places where life begins for aquatic species.

This is prime real estate!
But, unmarketable.  You can't make money here.

In our capitalistic thinking, if we can't make money in a piece of land, we don't want it.  We look at this piece of land from a narrow perspective. For this wetland to be appreciated, we need to ask all the residents in these parts if they enjoy their clean waters, their healthy fish, their pristine surroundings.

What we should all invest in, collectively, without each of us making any profit out of these decisions, is the protection and expansion of these spaces, for they are true investments in our way of life, in healthy life cycles for all species.

So, go on. Stop by your planning commissioner and find out how your community protects and invests in the preservation of these places.

If you live near these places, if your community has invested in their protection, you are most lucky.
Before you invest in anything else, invest in your community well being by protecting their wetlands.
Water, my good friends, is our real gold.