Sunday, January 30, 2011

You say you're not political?

You can't live in these woods and not be concerned to what happens to them. You'd want them to remain this way as long as you live. You hope your grandkids have the same feelings.

But you also know that things change; that someone will offer your grandkids a few million dollars to clear this land and put up a few condos one day. Your grandkids will think of you then, how you loved coming here and smelling those pines; how they and you foraged for mushrooms here; how you pitched tents and stayed up all night counting stars; how the silence and the grandeur hushed your thoughts and theirs and your sleep was never this peaceful.

We can't shut ourselves in ourselves and count our blessings when greed and corruption are running rampant, riding through the land counting happiness as though it was a concrete product listed on the stock exchange.

We have to think of what counts for the long run, for our grandkids and their great-great grandkids. Saving the forests and the rivers and the lakes form pollution and industrial waste will assure that seven generations of your family will continue to appreciate the same things you did.

And that's one of the reasons for staying involved with  local and national political issues.

Politics is everyone's business; it is the collective ethos of a people who are bound together by place and time. You read papers, watch the news, listen to people. You know that information is available in many places. Are you doing your part in gathering facts and analyzing trends on your own? No single party or single person holds all the answers.

We need to keep informing ourselves all the time, and MOST OF ALL, advise our representatives of the values we hold dear. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The end of the journey and other tales...

This is my sweet man, enjoying a dry day at the beach. Not for long though; see those clouds gathering behind him? We walk out of the house every day feeling as though we are given a reprieve, a short vacation to explore the outdoors. If the tide is out, our time is spent walking the beaches.

Doesn't it sound  romantic? To walk out and enjoy the outdoors and the waves anytime we feel like? To go meanderings into the forests and up and down rivers discovering new vegetation, new coves and bays? We are in suspended animation at this time in our lives, knowing our days are numbered.

It is precisely because we know our health is changing, our abilities are diminishing, our opportunities may not be there ten minutes from now, a month from now, that we breathe deeply of life at this time. We are mindful of what the journey ahead will be like. We appreciate every moment without pain or inconveniences.

This time of our lives has changed us in fundamental ways. We are not worried about what our neighbors think, what goals we must achieve. We have lived a version of our dreams, a version of a life we wanted for ourselves. Our perceptions have colored our experiences and  determined our paths.  We have been products of our times, and of our own imagination.  Each of us can trace the moment when decisions were made.

At the end of the journey, all those moments are just part of the tapestry, a red ribbon here, a green contour there. We live rich lives regardless of the money we had or we made, regardless of the opportunities we had or didn't have. We managed to raise families, love one another, forgive our frailties.

We  become more like children at this time. 
Now, if only we didn't become helpless as well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things that define us.

I'd ask my children about their teachers after their first day of school. What is he/she like? What new rules does he/she want you to know? What does he/she say, do that stand out?

Oh, Mom, you know!

No, tell me, tell me, do you like her/him?

I guess.

You guess? Don't you know right away, after the first few minutes?

Mom, do you want your students to judge you just after a few minutes?

Ah, wise children! 

They must have heard me. Yes, I must have talked about this boy who...;that girl, that administrator, that teacher.  They heard me say over and over again that people are complex being, even as children; that their needs shaped their behavior.

I must have convinced them of the veracity of that observation. In my case, as a teacher and then administrator of middle school and high school students, I saw students became animals or angels right in front of my eyes, at the drop of a pen. And if they were physically harmed, or hungry, or anxious, their whole personality was affected.

"But, but, do you like Mrs...?"

And the answer to that question made all the difference. If a child instinctively accepted the teacher, their journey in that class was easier, saner.

Yes! We are defined first and foremost by our ability to see possibilities of good in front of us. We are, after all, creatures who are constantly amazed at our own abilities to invent, create, love.

Tell me, how did you enjoy your school years?

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Days of Summer.

In summer, when the sky is clear and breezes cool the air,  tourists gawk around our town and ride horses everywhere, especially on the beaches.I have not seen tourists or anybody ride horses on the beach at any other time.

My grandchild and friends who visit  in the summer enjoy riding miles and miles on the shore.  It feels as though they are in a movie, John Wayne at the head of the posse, as they make their ways through canyons and caves and river beds looking for outlaws, the Billy-the-Kid types who'd surely are waiting behind those outcrops. 

Yes, temperatures in the low 70's; sun  shining; sand  warming our toes; horses and riders enjoying the outdoors.

If you only visit in summer, you have just missed the most important lesson in life: things are never just what they appear!

These shores take a beating in the winter months. Hurricane-force winds beat the shore with such violence and force that nobody, not a single animal will survive out there. Pelicans and sea-gulls and other shore bird are scattered in town, finding themselves in somebody's wood pile.  Winter is bitter cold and violent. Many roofs are destroyed by flying debris.

It rains over 80 inches a year.
It rains for seven months.
Most people must take vitamin D supplements.
When we dream, we dream of sunshine and bare legs.

Very few people live here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

From where I stand.

By now, you must know that I am a retired senior citizen.I live in a beautiful little town, with this beautiful vista. Lucky me!

From where I stand I have lots of time, but not a lot of resources.

Our biggest issue as senior citizens is affordability.  Affordability of health care, daily expenses, necessary services. Most of us are on fixed income. What that means is that most of our income is not growing in value; our purchase power is much less today than it was the day we retired.

When gas prices go up or a new medicine is prescribed, we have to find money to pay for these things from our present budget.  If we get fatally ill, we could lose all of our assets to pay for that medical care, including our homes, our pensions, our savings.

So, don't be surprised to know that we will cost tax payers more for Medicare, for Social Security, for Medicaid. These programs took a long time in coming, helping many people live through a longer lifespan with a modicum of security.

Middle class seniors who worked all their lives, who saved and scrimped, are still in jeopardy.  If Medicare and Social Security were reduced, seniors would be suddenly homeless and on the streets.

Regardless of where we live, most seniors have a tough time balancing their budgets. More and more seniors  become wards of their own children, bunking in a spare room. So, if we go under, our children go under too, taking us in, suffering the extra burden of babysitting grandpa who is unable to afford to stay in his own house.

Golden years?

Most folks run out of savings in the first five years of retirement. Even with social security and Medicare, seniors are quickly lowering the quality of their lifestyle the minute they quit their work.  They may not need new clothes or new cars, but they will need more and more medical services and drugs.

Can you save enough to live well in your golden years? Financial advisers tell you to start savings in your twenties,  investing your money for the years when you won't be able to work. 

Now, if you expect to retire early, you need to stop reading this, turn off all extra appliances, and start making a plan today to live frugally from this day on. Don't say you didn't know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

With every year...

Our evergreens  dwarf us in this photo;  my husband is reduced to a paltry size.
On a sunny January, the maple is bare, looking sad, but the cedar and the century old pine are loving the  80 inches plus of rain they receive every winter.

They look as though time has stood still for a long time in this yard.
The changes have been subtle: branches have been torn down by winds, naturally pruning dead wood.
Roots have grown deeper.

People seem to grow by spurts. As infants, as we double our size and every hair is counted, every tooth celebrated, every inch charted, our  parents fret about our normalcy. In adolescence, we take up the job of worrying about our normalcy.

We count every hair, every where, measure everything, wanting an inch here, fewer pounds there, fretting about our size, dissatisfied with how we look or how much we weigh. We have a running feud with the mirror, the scale and the yard stick.

We seem to be dissatisfied with everything and everyone, especially our parents.

Only after we grow into our fifties, we begin to accept ourselves, more and more with each year that our mirror compares us to our mothers or fathers.  Yes, as we look more and more like our parents, we begin to see all those fine attributes that were too subtle to show up when we all lived under the same roof.

I've become a better person, a better mother, and a more beautiful woman in my sixties. In another decade or so I'll forget any flaws I had in my youth. I'll even forget that I'm old.

I might forget my name too.

How wonderful to know I have beauty and normalcy in my senior years.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Open Letter to Followers.

Dear Follower,

Thank you for signing up to follow sixtyfivewhatnow blog. There are many people, young and old here; some go back a few years.I may be ahead of you in some ways, but behind you in many other ways. The only thing certain is that I'm pleased we are on the same path, looking for ways to connect with each other, to learn more about who we are; to learn new ways of doing things; to understand our differences; to grow in understanding.

If you feel the need for exposure, to reach out and meet lots of people at once, this method is probably as good as putting a note on a bulletin board, or going to a cocktail party and passing out your business card.

I do hope you don't fret about followers. You have a responsibility to your content, to your perspective, and by being truthful and authentic, generous and respectful, your true talent will show forth and be appreciated.

I'm old enough to remember when the first telephone came to town, how the new device became both a curiosity and a necessity in no time. We all started blogging as a curiosity, now it has become a necessity, allowing us to know about a situation and work together to bring resources and knowledge to bear on it-my previous post-or to illuminate an issue in a new way.

Thank you for joining the conversation.
Let's all thank Blogger for making this possible.

United in pursuit of knowledge and understanding,


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little things can make a big difference..

fragments treasures memory: Little things can make a big difference...#links

Now and then, I send you to read somebody else's blog.
Today it's Robyn's post in Australia, about a cause that will help the environment no matter where you live.

Thanks, Robin, for highlighting this issue.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Before this week...

Do you talk about your life in terms of markers? Before I got married, before I moved to Florida, before my knees' operation......................................................................?

There are about a dozen such big markers in life and I just experienced a new one right here as a blogger: 

Becoming The Blog of Note for Jan. 17, 2011!

Before the blog of note I had 273 followers. After, 393, at the end of day two. Unreal!
I still have no idea how this happened and what it might lead to.

Welcome, everyone. I hope you leave a comment now and then, and allow me to visit you as well.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who are we?

                            (Summer, 2010, grandchild and friend at Meyers Beach)

I have counted 273 followers this morning, yet only a handful drop in regularly to leave a comment, delight in the same things, point out something that might be useful. In three years I only managed to keep a few regulars. Statistically this is a horror story.

Who are we, and why do we write here?

We are here to chronicle our days, the way we did in journals and diaries and calendar entries. We chronicle the good, the bad, the ugly, and the occasional turn of the century local story that puts us right in the middle of a pile of something or other. Think now if you were in Tunisia, Sudan, North Australia, Brazil, Haiti, India, how the eyes of the media, in your country or in the bigger world, will scoop down and get your point of view. Suddenly, you are the eyes of the world.

Some of us are writers, published or not, lovers of stories, concocting yet one more personal narrative to illuminate the human condition.

Some are shy and quiet, showing you their world now and then and simply let it go at that. Some are true marketers, combining many skills in the layout of the blog, accessing links and related materials to provide a veritable store of delights for the reader. They are more than blogs; they are web-sites, store-fronts with attractive displays and merchandise to sell.

As readers, some prefer to be entertained; some prefer to  shop or look for companionship.

When I tell my neighbors that I blog, they look at me suspiciously. We just got DSL in this  town. People fish, hunt, ride, boat, kayak, farm and ranch and enjoy the great outdoors even in the rain.

There was a talk about two Americas. I say we have hybrids everywhere; that fifty states are as diverse as fifty countries; that our weather and mountains, topography and shopping habits define us more that the name of our state; that most people can trace their family roots out of the United States; that we vote when we  are sick enough of something or someone; that we love where we live and think everybody else is messing up the country.

Blogging allows us to share across frontiers.

Right now, our school system is facing more budget cuts;  our state is in the top three states with serious hunger. There are more old people in our county than in any other county in this state. We are losing doctors in these rural communities and our commute to see a doctor has now increased from one hour to three.

Sure, I'm happy to be here. I tell you that all the time. I show you pictures of blissful shore visits. But, I'm not working for any advertising company, or for anyone else. I do not represent special interests.  I'm just a one person, reflecting on my life, in this year, in this place and I will continue to share these reflections day in and day out as long as free speech and blogging are both free.

When I am not writing my memoirs, working with the school board, or walking on the beaches, I'm blogging.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Camellia Days

Camellias are blooming, next to the house, on a cold winter day. Buds are showing up everywhere. Don't they know it is the middle of winter? 

And the star magnolia?  What is she thinking budding at this time? Why, there are roses still blooming in the yard, with hurricane winds and temperatures dipping in the 30's most nights.

I was born in the middle of a snowstorm, Mother used to tell me, in the worst of weather, during a war, with occupied forces right next door, with planes bombing all around us, with food shortages. 

I was as big as as my father's hand, not meant to survive.

People always surprise us on how long they can survive.

Camellias come just at the right time, when our spirits are tired, our bodies weary. Winter is blustering all around us; but these harbingers of spring are the early sentinels.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hollywood Dreams.

If you think Hollywood exists, you've never been there! This sign is on Hollywood Blvd.  There are parts of Los Angeles known as Hollywood.
Believe me when I tell you, it is an imaginary place, like Paradise. It is a total fantasy, though actual real estate moguls will denounce my words.

I went to school in Hollywood.
I did practice teaching at Hollywood High School.
One of my children was born in Hollywood.
But if you came to visit and wanted a tour, you'd be hard pressed to find that Hollywood is more of a concept than an actual place with definite parameters.

There is Hollywood  conglomerate of studios around the area, but most studios are now in other locations, other neighborhoods.

When we were first married,  I knew more people
connected to the movie/television industry than you find anywhere else.

Studios are small cities, walled and protected and with their own culture and lingo.  The fun happens when the "shootings", the locations are outdoors, in neighborhoods.  Then, entire city blocks become entrenched in the phenomenon of movie making, and neighbors whisper to each other during shooting times, park in unexpected places, drive around trying to get back to their homes.  Yes, Hollywood moves in your neighborhood and you are now forever immortalized in that episode of Matlock.  (Matlock habitually shot scenes in and around Warner Center, my neighborhood.)

Back then I was not a writer, not even a secret one.

Back then I made a living as a school principal.  All that noise and bother, all that artificiality irritated me. Our neighbor worked for Johnny Carson then, and provided all the gossip I could stand. My best friend from college has a costume shop where pretend is the name of the game, and she has plenty of stories of strange people believing any day their luck will change, their discovery will take place.

I wonder how anyone could write in  a place where everything and everyone is a figment of some one's imagination.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whale Migration.

From the last week of December, and for a month or so, one can see a great many whales right from the shore, with or without binoculars. Hundreds of whales are seen hourly, all over the coast of Oregon, on their way south to the warm waters of Mexico for their annual migration.

In June, they'll return with their calves, and some will linger in these waters, mothers and daughters cavorting around these rocks, visible from this rail any time of the day.  One surfer swears that they were watching him!

If you are ever able to see these marvelous creatures up close, please do.  Add this to your wish list: a visit to the Pacific shores either in late December/early January, or all month of June. 

A friend of mine who volunteers at the shore to help visitors recognize the spouts, tells me she spotted 35 whales during her shift. A great record.
For more information,  a list of locations and a map, visit:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

nO reSOLutions!

The  Ocean takes what it wants; leaves what it wants; reshapes the topography and re-draws the perimeters of continents.  The Ocean listens and responds to forces deep in the earth, high in the atmosphere, surfacing under pressure in its midst, or bobbing  on its surface.  The Ocean cradles  tiny lives and enormous leviathans. 

Earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes can occur everywhere. There are no annual plans or resolutions made by the Ocean.

We, on the other hand, feel so good when we have filed our resolutions, published our goals, activated our investment plans, built another bridge, another monument.  Weight gained or lost, check. Money made and invested, check. House and children organized, checked. 

We actually have so few things we can control.
Control seems to make us happy.

I love watching No Reservations,  Chef Anthony Bourdeain's television show where he travels all over the world and eats whatever people eat, in their homes, on the streets, in neighborhood restaurants that do not need reservations. He's trying to gauge what people actually do with the food they grow.  And he is mostly happy with the finds.

I wonder, could we travel through our lives and just be who we are, do what we do, and live mostly content with who we are, where we are, how we are?

Couldn't we just Be?