Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How we celebrate our independence.

We all ask ourselves why we live where we live.
Why we choke up when we see our flag, our armed forces.
Our parades.
Our fireworks.

We are happy to have simple food on our picnic tables, burgers and hot dogs, salads and apple pies. We don't need expensive wines or artisanal cheeses to make us happy. We need our families and neighbors pot-lucking with us, sharing our camping experience, rolling up our sleeves keeping  streams clean,  oceans healthy.

In our private paradise we worship in our own way, and we respect how anyone else worships.
We celebrate our independence on  July 4th by meditating on what makes us strong: our amazing journey, from a nation of religious refugees to a nation with open arms to all refugees. We speak many languages and we come from many cultures.

In this new land,  our hearts beat as one in our resolve to be the best society humanly possible.
We are proud to be Americans.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Way We Live.

Weather rules here in Port Orford, on the southern Oregon coast.
Sure, the calendar says summer. The rains have dwindled to once, twice a month.

Yet, we're still in a watery mist most of the time, with green life all around, in a variety of shades and shapes. We breathe moist air all year long. Even in summer.

We are surrounded by water and watery images more than man-made images.

At one time, this place was a bustling fishing port. Before this dock was erected, ships docked in open areas, in the bay, largely unprotected from hurricane-force winds that clobber these shores.  Routinely, tempestuous winds and high waves destroyed whole fleet.  
At present,  sixty to seventy  vessels fish regularly in these waters.

You'd think the town would have access to the fish caught here. All of it, is shipped out the minute it arrives on land. Crab is shipped live, in tanks, for premium prices.  If the locals want local fish they need to befriend a local fisherman.

A couple of times a year, the town is treated to a fish fry or a crab feast, courtesy of the local Rotary or the local fishermen.  Then, all proceeds go to local causes, like scholarships for our high school students.

By July, the town has swelled, doubled, tripled. Relatives drop in to celebrate holidays here, try their hands at fishing on the rivers, from the docks.  Fishing is the number one sport, followed by kayaking, biking, golfing.

Did I mention we are only 23 miles from the world renowned resort links of Bandon Dunes?

Yes, in the same supermarket line, we come face to face with millionaires who fly their own jets to play a weekend of golf here, as well as the local fishermen who can barely support their families some years.

One thing for sure: we all wear wind-breakers, all year. The millionaire's is definitely Gore-Tex.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!~

We don't get to thank our dads too often. We don't get to pick flowers and construct special gifts. Why, Father's Day seems like an afterthought in many households. A father is a constant presence in a child's life that is bigger than life, that will continue to live on even if he is out of the picture.

Even though the last time I saw my father was when I was in my late twenties, I think of him and miss him everyday.I felt strong around him. I felt undefeated knowing he had my back, protected me from harm, supported me all the way.  I could be and do anything with him around. I was the apple of his eye, the sweetness in his life, the joy of his days.

The love of a father is a very solid thing, forever strong, forever present.
Mine died the year my daughter was born. That year I gained and lost two beautiful souls. That year is etched in my heart forever.  Oh how I wish he and I had reunited; how I wish he had met all of my family.

Take time to express your love for your father. Do it your way. Just do it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Dangerous Season.

Beaches. Places to relax, sit and ponder the beauty and power of the universe.
All summer long, visitors will spend hours on these beaches, walking them, combing the ground for shells, pebbles, agates, driftwood, lost civilizations.

Children will be running around chasing each other, chasing birds, running after waves.
And even adults will attempt to surf and play in the cold waters without giving much thought to its dangers.

Yes, this is the killing season on most beaches.  No. I'm not talking about sharks or boat accidents, though these will make the evening news.  I'm talking about rip tides with big undertow, logs being slammed on shore, people being dragged out to sea.

People have turned their backs to the Ocean and they have been assaulted by errant waves, thrown down, battered. all in a matter of seconds.  It happened to me while I was taking pictures on a beautifully sunny day with gentle winds.  I was not paying attention to the waves, and didn't see one come at me. I was knocked down and pulled under for what seemed like a very long time. When I was finally able to stand up,  and moved away, I realized how cavalier I had been.  I had been warned that people drowned in this area;  the warning signs all spelled out the dangers.
I had not paid any attention.
Enjoy the beaches on your vacation.

But, read and heed the warning signs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Invasive Species and other thoughts.

How do we learn?
What do we pay attention to?
How do we change our ways?
How do we maintain best habits?
How do we support a healthy environment?

When you move from one area to another, as we all do at some times in our lives, we need to adapt, and to learn new ways of doing things. Here in Oregon, with so many rivers, wetlands, beaches and forests all around, people seem incongruous.  We are the invasive species.

It's good to find maps and instructions everywhere.
It's good to learn best habits.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Graduations and other thoughts.

Graduations are just stops along your life voyage.
The entire town may show up to wish you well on your journey from this port to who knows where. You are the star today.
And this is your celebration.

From Now on, you are basically on your own.
Sure, your mom and dad and siblings will hold the fort for you while you visit the world and taste its adventures. You might get a job right away; but deep down, in your gut, you know you don't know everything you need to know.

What do you know?
That books contain the accumulated knowledge of your people. That there are more books to read and digest than the number you have already read and digested. That you are already ahead of your parents, but nowhere ready to go at life on your own, the way your parents did. The amount of knowledge you need is much more.

What do you need?
You need a compass, for sure.  You need to know where True North is, where your heart is, where your values are buried. Where you will be content with yourself. And you need more knowledge, more skills for each challenge you encounter. Learning is a life-long pursuit.

Are you ready to eat well, sleep well, and play well?
You have freedoms now that you never did. You have the freedom to purchase and prepare your own food.  How you take care of yourself will influence your quality of life.  Junk food will kill you in your prime. If you don't recognize what's on the label of a product, don't buy that product.  (as expressed by Jamie Oliver!)
Sleep is your friend. You don't get enough, your performance  will suffer. Sleep is underrated. Get your eight hours and be jealous of those hours.
Play with enthusiasm and with fairness, to yourself, to your friends.  Think of consequences when you play. If you play fair and respect your partner, the future will remain rosy for both of you.

Are you ready to work until the job is done well?
Ah, yes, until the job is done well! You may be working for the first time in your life at an eight hour job. You will be tired and overwhelmed by the responsibilities. You may want to skip a day when you didn't sleep well, when you didn't play enough. Your job will define who you are to the boss, to your colleagues who depend on you doing your part.  Show them they can rely on you.  Do you feel like complaining? Don't. Call your older brother and ask for advice. Call your father.  Let someone guide you on how to solve this new problem.  Doing your job well is what your schooling prepared you for, what your parents prepared you for. Man Up!

You'll be pursuing a career and pursuing a life partner.
These two forces will sometimes be at odds with each other. You'll be working long hours when you want to spend time with that special person.  Communicate your needs and be transparent. Your boss may not understand, and neither will that special person.  They may not understand, but they will be cognizant that you tried your best to satisfy each of their needs.  Trying counts. Not trying, being sneaky, lying and blaming others, never helps.

Plan for tomorrow, but live today.
Life is right here in front of you, in the food you choose to eat, the people you are with, the work you are doing. Be present, be conscious of the blessings you have. Appreciate all you have, and never take anyone or anything for granted.  Be generous with your wealth, with your caring. What you give to others will be returned four-fold. Today is all you have for today.

May you marvel at the world you'll see, the things you'll accomplish, the love you will give.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Come in...

I'm so glad you found my house. I should have told you to look for a cranberry door. My entry is exposed to the outdoors. If you look through that big window you can see the ocean. Here is where I sit and read, with a blanket over my legs, a lamp behind me, a fireplace log burning brightly most days.

Come in.
We'll have coffee and a savory focaccia while we talk.
I can whip up a focaccia in no time.
To go with our freshly caught crab and fresh picked greens.
I cook when I'm tired of reading or writing.
I cook when I need to think.
I'll be talking as I cook; would you like a glass of pinot? Great wineries here. Great mushrooms and berries and grass-fed beef too.

Now that the rains have stopped, I garden and grow food. The focaccia will have savory baby onions and baby beets. I can pick some lettuces and pea shoots too, and drizzle some fruity olive oil over it all.

Did you get lost on the way?
You know that I'm as Far West as one can get. If you traveled this far, you reached the end of the continent, the end of America.  You're in Oregon, a green state, full of wild rivers, majestic mountains, lots of forests and beaches.  We have lots of rules here that protect the environment, that establish priorities on how we treat  land,  water,  ocean.

Glad to have company! We're isolated here. When company arrives, we all rejoice.
So, tell me where you are from?