Friday, December 30, 2011

One foot stomping.

I am posed the same way as my cat, head looking one way, body  facing the opposite. I have one foot in and one out of the door, not sure how far to venture out.  The holidays and company have worn us out. We are going to need our routine back, our lives back to normal.

Not a chance!
The Normal Train left the station without us.

What's in store for 2012?

We have purchased fiddles and a tuner, and are ready to make music, Hubby and I. We are both taking a class and we'll be getting off our couches every Tuesday evening to join other adults learning to play a new instrument. I'm looking forward to  stomp my feet and  make merry.

This is a first for me! Our children were playing various instruments since they were little. Hubby was in a marching band in  high school. Our daughter has made music her career.  I am the only one without any musical knowledge. Why now?

Why not? I have the time; I have the desire, and the opportunity may not be here next year.

How about you? What new endeavors are you pursuing in 2012?

Whatever they are, may they be music to your ears.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A sense of place.

You are looking at Cape Blanco Lighthouse, at the tip of Cape Blanco, the westernmost tip of the contiguous states. We are in the Far West, and the myth about the West lives here still.

Around us are ranches, forests, cranberry bogs, pastures, and tiny towns, of which Port Orford and Langlois are the closest. The land is rugged. Only one highway, US 101 parallels the coast and connects California on the south, to Washington,  on the north.

We were the last frontier here in Oregon. The Oregon Trail moved people from the East to the West through many territories. We all have ancestors who came this way and settled here.  My husband's family started out in the Carolinas, and made its way west, landing in Utah first before settling in in Willocreek, Montana, and in Oregon and Washington.

My great Uncle Giuseppe arrived in San Francisco as a youth, to make his fortune in California during the gold rush. He settled in Fresno and Los Angeles, where I landed as a seventeen year old from Italy.
We were all drawn to the open land, the sense of adventure and opportunities that the West promised.

Right here and right now, our young people are moving away from their family ranches to seek their fortunes in big cities, East, North, South, to Europe, Asia. They'll join a fishing expedition in Alaska, go raise cattle in Utah, dig for oil in Louisiana. The West offered much, but it is still a wild place, full of natural beauty, but lacking in jobs and opportunities.

Retirees are moving to these small places. They are enchanted by the wild rivers, the spectacular ocean views, and the thundering sound of crushing waves. They are also amazed at how little this place has changed since it was first occupied as Fort Orford, a military outpost to protect ships and lumber workers as they loaded up and moved lumber down the Pacific to Eureka, and San Francisco.

We are still on the frontier, in a sense. We must be prepared to live without electricity for days after a major storm as the highway may be impassable, and no truck or car full of provisions can make deliveries or bring repairmen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

May your days be merry and bright...

The sun is shining Bright here in the Far West, on Christmas Eve.
Newkie is making Merry, as murmurs of starlings cause her to change positions. It is, otherwise, a quiet morning, destined to be a quiet night too, with an occasional Crab boat's  bobbing lights disturbing her rest for a few seconds.

I have all I need in front of me, she says. The crab boat will bring me fresh fish; the people in the house will change my litter box soon after my needs are met.
I'm the pet of the house and they treat me as though I were a Christmas present!

Don't you wish your present was this good?

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trust your instincts.

I noticed the colors in this living room corner this morning as I sipped on my first cup of espresso. The chair had been moved to make room for the Christmas tree. (in the last picture). Wow, I said, who knew that i could put these colors together, and at my age! (I'm celebrating 70 next month!)

Humbly, I bought this chair with no reservations a month ago. A chair that fits my 5' frame, a burned orange to go with the chocolate brown couch in the next picture.

Yes, the dark couch would have been in character for me, always practical and safe. The green lamp? Another shot in the dark, as the pillows and the red chair in the following picture.

You are looking at another chair for me, a rocker, soft Italian leather and an Irish throw with a splash of green in the pillow.

Is this a new me?
Could be!
I wanted these things all along, for years, but always compromising for the sake of this or that, some random need or aesthetics.  Now,  I sit on this rich leather and surround myself with soft throws here and there and I'm totally comfortable with my instincts, my taste, my needs.

Did I consult experts? Did I use magazines for inspiration? Did I follow some sale signage?
Not this time.

I walked into stores to find what looked and felt good to me. When I found what I liked, I pulled the trigger.  The living room came together, a few pieces at a time, in a matter of weeks.

Now, that Christmas tree decorated with birds? That's  my husband's this is it moment! Enjoy.

(If you want to know the details, makers and shops, email me.)
Happy Holidays, wherever you are.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wishing upon a star, and a moon, and the entire firmament of friends.

Once, in a wishing, bewitching, spell-blinding season like this, in our very own
castle on a hill, behind  ivy thick walls and iron gates that kept evil out and pets and children and wishes close at hand, we thought we lived a great life then, measuring time and love by the empty boxes piled outside on trash days.

In fact, our  trash bin was the only thing that told neighbors and thieves that we lived here, behind the gates, the ivy, the heavy curtains.

 I recognized my neighbors with a hand wave as I drove by their places, neither of us  knowing the name of the other.  I only learned their names after an earthquake caused us to borrow flashlights and bread from each other, take turns figuring out how to shut off the gas lines.

Once, after we had just arrived, we invited people from our neighborhood and our work places to a holiday open house. Only one couple showed up.

Soon, we too stopped trying to meet new people. All we had time to do was work, and on the weekend,  get everything organized so we could return to work.

Now and then, we'd sneak  in a dark movie theater for a couple of hours on a grey day, munch on popcorn, sip on a coke, and escape the numbing routine. For those two hours, whatever was on the screen became our real lives. Friends shared laughter; family got together, issues resolved.

And because of such lives, all punctuated by work and work, we look at this season of wishes as a respite on a great hike. We wish more for ourselves and our families. We wish to hold hands with each other, comfort each other.

This is the season of faithful moments, times when we pause and call on anything and everything that is dear to us, bigger than us, more luminous than us to help us make deep connections.

Happy Holidays, wherever you are. Rejoice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sometimes this isn't enough.

Water, sand, trees, branches, old logs, birds, deer, pebbles,,,,,
These are the things that surround us and keep us focused. When we need something, like milk or bread or underwear, we have to get into the car and drive fifty, sixty, one hundred and fifty miles to find that something. People that are isolated and live with this much beauty do not need much.

Except at Christmas.

Yes, now is the time that stores do what they do so well: they entice you, excite you, whet your appetite for things you didn't know you needed. And they show you the realm of wants all displayed artfully and temptingly.  They deserve all the profits they can make at this time of the year. Without them, we would not know what joys money can buy.

I resist temptation with as much fervor as the Pilgrims did. But at Christmas, I can't be logical and practical. At Christmas, we all turn into Santa. We want to surprise, delight and spoil everyone on our list. We even want to reward the salesperson who is too busy and too harried to answer our questions or show us the ins and out of an appliance. It's O.K we think. Poor guy, he has all these people to attend to!

No wonder then that we will bring out our credit card once again, and charge away. After all, even those poor credit cards companies need warmth and joy this season. We're all dreaming the same dream.

Then, we wish  a Merry Little Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gifts for health.

You can grow your own herbs and natural remedies right at your door, and with a bit of luck, and sunshine, or light from your bulbs this time of the year, you can grow the most beautiful present anyone could possibly receive. Rosemary and thyme can be found in little starts at the nurseries, but for annuals like basil and parsley, you need to start your own seeds. Keep the pot in a warm, sunny or well-lighted place all winter long, and in the spring, you can re-plant outdoors.

Herbal medicine has been around for millenia. I am not trying to sell you any products here, but remind you that what you put in your body sustains you in more ways than you know. Herbs, garlic, onions and ginger all help the digestion, as well as enhance the taste and the smell of food. When I think of my mother, I whip up a plate of spaghetti, redolent with basil and garlic and I'm instantly transported and reliving all my days at the kitchen counter.

In this season of commercialism, I'm planting various herbs, with garlic and chives for my friends. I will label the plant shoots,  and add a note with suggestions and recipes  for the culinary neophyte.

I guarantee that this is not a gift that will end up in a pile in the back closet.
Be sure you plant one for yourself!