Saturday, January 28, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday. The day was this good. By noon, it warmed up enough for me to take a good walk around the block, even after a busy morning of Tai-Chi and housecleaning. I started Tai-Chi just a few weeks ago, a way to find my breathing, to meditate, to stretch my body and soul.

I have limited capital left in this life.
How many more losses will I experience before I die?

As I age, after each birthday, I notice that my body betrays me more and more.  I can no longer keep the svelte figure I had in my youth.  My digestion has changed: it doesn't like ice-cream, pizza, cakes,  any indulgences.  I used to spend hours cleaning and organizing the house. Now, my strength and flexibility are so unreliable that I barely do an hour of housekeeping before I collapse. (I do housekeeping as an aerobic exercise, pushing and lifting and moving the whole body!).  I sleep in spurts. I read and write in spurts too.

I'm only seventy! What will happen when I'm eighty, ninety?
(At our book club, on Thursday, Dot celebrated her 95th birthday! She reads a couple of books a week, belongs to The League of Women's Voters and many other groups active in the community!)

We have access to two canoes for lake rides.
They sit, forlorn.
Brian was the last person to ride the canoe to the Ocean and back.

I need to rustle up a youthful  desire and resolve for adventure,  a long sojourn somewhere with new sights, sounds, tastes, midnight cruises, mid-morning hikes.
I need to live while I'm alive.

How about you? Do you countdown to doing things differently?
What changes are you looking forward to?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On a limb.

A covey of doves resides on this barren tree. They come and go, vacating when blackbirds fly overhead, knowing better than to stick around where they might be attacked. They are almost the same size as the blackbirds, but they come and go in a mild way, resting between foraging trips down in the garden, and know precisely what to do when they see blackbirds advance toward them.

So much of life takes place outside our viewfinder, not changed or evolved too much from its original state.

We, on the other hand,  are prisoners of our ways, eating to oblivion, sleeping to death stages. We can't see anything without our special rose-colored glasses. Whatever happens out there is not our business until it becomes a nuisance to our eating, sleeping, viewing habits.

Some of us pretend to care. We lay out bird feed, cat feed, dog feed, and occasionally drop in to check the local pantry. Even when we are not busy, we pretend to be. We arrange our days in increments of pleasure and must-dos. Ah, we whine, why can't they invent something that flushes itself, cooks itself, washes itself?

We have invented self-flushing toilets, self flowing faucets, instant hot water dispensers. Even my cat relies on all these things, like her automatic feeders! I fill these contraptions  once a week, and automatically, with a paw- up into it, pellets drop in in just the right amount.  She uses a  cat litter with self-absorption-odor absorption qualities unequaled in history.We have invented so many devices, and machines, and applications to machines, machines that replace machines, that we no longer have to lift ourselves out of bed.

Wait. No. We have machines that lift us out of bed, but then we have to get to the physical therapist to show us how to move our legs, bend our knees, push our uppers and lowers and pretend we do physical work.

My biggest concern during weather problems?  That my electricity is gone, and no machine can make my coffee, toast my bread, cook my egg, warm my water, and keep my frozen goods frozen.

We even study these addictions/relationships we have with machines. My husband's job was to analyze how we interact with machines!

I wonder if Darwin had any idea of how strange we have become, dreaming up machines to feed every one of our needs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

From 541-to the White House

Dear White House,
You asked what makes Port Orford special. You can walk these beaches and marvel at the sights. You'll pinch yourself for finding such beauty as you spot a whale spout in the distance, or a surf rider at the edge of the sand. You won't ever tire of these walks.

Later, you'll stop at our eateries and order fish, or local game.  Yes, the food is fresh, the water is fresh, the air is the freshest, and the chefs will surprise you with their magic.

Don't forget to visit our galleries and studios. Award-winning writers, filmmakers, glass artists, potters, painters, musicians, people working with iron,  scrimshaw, textile, living secluded lives unless they teach a class or get together to raise funds for the local library or pantry.

We have the bare necessities here, in case you want to spend a week or two to feel totally at peace with natural forces.

As winds howl and bluster, and rivers overflow their banks, we sit at our windows and watch Pacific storms bring rain to the Northwest.  All this green around us is the result of all that rain!  When people visit in winter, decked with rain gear and sturdy shoes, they will enjoy storm parties with neighbors and visitors alike.

Storms have forged a deep bond among the residents.  Lewis and Clark were stumped during their first winter on the Pacific at Cape Disappointment. They voted, including Sacajawea and York in that vote, to spend their winter at Fort Clatsop by Astoria. They needed help from the native population to stay alive.

It is this frontier spirit that has kept the Far West vigorous and strong.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where we stand.

You can focus on the  space you occupy, or on the rocks out there.

Where you stand, the food you eat, the sights you see, the air you breathe, the clothes on your back, the friends you run around with, the activities you engage in, the shops you frequent, the work you do, the thoughts you have right now, the story you lived, all define you.

Only if you move around, breathe new air, engage in new activities, turn your head, you'll see  a different world.

If you want to see the many faces of the world, you can't inhabit just one space.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Folding the map and navigating without help.

How do you travel? Do you plan ahead, reserve all your lodging, rest breaks, outings?
Or, do you just go?
Hubby and I do both.
But, we have been most amazed and surprised and enchanted when something we had not planned just popped up in front of us and stopped us cold.

Small towns don't have the budget to advertise in advance, to put ads in glossy brochures.  They rely on word of mouth, casual acquaintances dropping in on their way to something else, and because they get this wow feeling, they might put the event on their future calendars.

Go on, get in the car and visit places on the way to something else.
The detour will enrich your days.

(This weekend, Port Orford is sponsoring a Wildlife Film Festival. Yes, a whole day of documentaries and short films dedicated to wildlife. Award winning directors and cinematographers will be available for photo ops and to autograph programs. I shall report on this on my next entry,)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Golden Years.

What retirement starts as:

1. Many meals eaten out.
2. Trips and outings to interesting places.
3. Looking to pursue hobbies and activities like gardening, reading, etc...
4. Volunteering.
5. Entertaining friends and family.
6. Paying for expensive wine and looking forward to ingesting it .
7. Looking forward to selling your house and travel the world over.

What retirement ends up as:

1. Cooking three times a day, for health reasons, for budget reasons.
2. Outings to doctors' offices, specialists, pharmacies.
3. Napping whenever possible.
4. Pulling yourself away from all the groups you joined.
5. Fretting when you have to rearrange your life to host family and friends.
6. Paying for supplemental health insurance and hoping you live to use it.
7. Struggling to hold on to your house and not miss any payments and lose it completely.

What about you? What did you hope your retirement would be like?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Broken dreams.

Just one storm caused this trellis to come apart in pieces, and to destroy beautiful rose bushes and fruit trees nearby.

One fall-out of life can destroy your big dream, of owning a home, sending your children to college, retiring.  Oh yes, you can predict most of life's problems,  buy insurance, and you can then go back to dreaming that you are infallible, ready to mold your destiny with alacrity and dedication, a destiny that is yours alone and nobody can take away from you because you are smart enough, healthy enough, and connected enough to stand up to anything.

But nothing like this had happened before and you didn't anticipate it. One thing falls, and it takes millions of other things in its path. Our connections  go deep.

And right now, on this sunny day,(we usually get rainy days) we all want to look away from this scene of broken dreams, we want to forget the past and look ahead to summer.

Right now, we just want to get on to lifting this structure up and go back to the times when the rose bushes were healthy, the fruit trees were strong, the raccoon hadn't destroyed our harvests.
We want good news. And we want someone else to pay for this mess.

The way I look at things: fix your own structure, in your own backyard. If this structure was  connected to your neighbors', well then, get together with them, and see how to lean on each other. Both your life and theirs were affected, and will not improve until you give and take.  Some of you will have to do more, especially if you could have done something to prevent all this damage in the first place!

It's really a simple problem.

On a bigger scale, if the city had not maintained their poles, and one of them knocked that trellis of mine, by Jove, I'd expect them not just to repair their pole, but fix my trellis too, and be humble about it, apologetic, generous, and put rules and protocols in place, so this would not happen to me, or to anyone else, again.

It's only Fair!

Now, I wonder what we have to do to fix our country's trellis? Did Wall Street cause it to tumble?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A lesson in humility.

Come in...sit down...I'll fix us some brunch...with these fresh veggies I just rescued.
I'm trying to make it up to you, my blog friend, for erasing your comment a minute ago, for my stupidity, actually. I'm much better in the kitchen, you'll see.

So, have a cup of tea, coffee, juice, while we chat.
My day so far?
Except for the faux pas a minute ago, it was going splendidly. Newkie came up on my bed to wake me at dawn, walked me down the hall to her feed bowl, and from there, the usual stuff, make coffee, pour some yogurt and berries for Hubby, stuff dirty dishes and bowls in the dishwasher, (I know, who washes the dishes until they need them, right?), shower and return to bed to share breakfast in bed with the Man of the House who doesn't have any chores except to drive us places and to suggest meal choices. Today, the sun is shining, temperatures are in the mid forties so far, threatening to get to a warm fifty plus, and walks and gardening forays are all possible.

I know, we are spoiling ourselves rotten.

How about you? What has your day been like so far?

p.s. if this event-erasing comments- had not occurred, you would never know that we have breakfast in bed every morning! Yes, you can now leave an envy note!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Does anyone keep diaries anymore?

Once upon a golden age, with a fountain pen and a bound book of blank pages I recorded my thoughts on  this chair,  facing the water, in a place not yet invaded by weeds.  I wrote lyrical stories, of a life charmed with blessings, uncoiling the sense of wonder found in this paradise.

But Paradise is based on a delicate balance of forces. Winds and water levels, beavers and the condition of  a strong Pacific storm dissipated my faith in this paradise within hours.

During the night, the lake outflow  over spilled into the ocean, large waves contaminated the fresh water lake, and soon, within days,  the fish began to die, and beavers and fowls moved on.

Paradise's history changed for ever. People who had moved to this town, and this lake for fishing and recreation pulled stakes and left. Restaurants closed. Businesses dried up. Real estate offices shut their doors. Schools consolidated and laid off personnel.

One act of nature had changed the face of this town.

Of course,  history books will not connect all these events to that night. They will explain the loss of businesses on the recession; the consolidation of schools on the loss of timber money; the shutting down of real estate offices to the housing bubble. The city had lost its sewer system on such a storm, and to replace it, they tacked a hefty tax on the remaining citizens.

The year and month, Dec. 4 2007. Newspapers noted that a big storm downed the power grid and the highway was closed for a couple of days. Yes, those happened too.