Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let the sunshine in!

When you live in a forest you expect that every storm will cause some damage, to the house, to the trees, to the land. A few seasons ago, a couple of big trees by the deck were blown over and damaged the deck and the fence. We have held our breath every winter!

This year, this destruction was intentional, man made. We actually hired a tree trimming contractor to come in with big machines and cut these  trees down to prevent damage to the buildings, and to create sunny spots  next to the house. This is all in anticipation of a bigger front and side garden. There is still a lot more hard work ahead, including concrete and benches and gravel driveways.

The deck above is right outside our bedroom, and for ten months out of the year this area is shaded. Having more sun on the deck, and in this side garden will allow me to walk right out of my bedroom, on good days and have breakfast al fresco. When my knees are too sore to move about, I will still be able to tend my plants right out the bedroom.

This mess will need some sunny days before it can be cleared it out and transported  away. We are still having wind and rain storms week in and week out. It is too soggy and muddy for us to trample around easily.

I wish I could show you the after pictures.
You'll have to be patient.
And, dream along with me.

So, sing along and make magic with Annie as we shout, The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Don't let this look fool you.

It looks like an abandoned warehouse. The  outside is old and falling apart, but it is full of activity on any fishing day, a packing and freezing location for Pacific Seafood, a company with a major presence in the Northwest.  This building at the Port, in Port Orford, manages to move pounds and pounds of the freshest and most delicious fish you will ever eat. Most of it is shipped frozen, or live in tanks.

The goal of this enterprise is to get the fish in from the boats and off to their destinations within hours. Most of the fish you eat on the west coast comes from this distributor.

Pacific Seafood is a big company, with a major presence in the Northwest.
Read about them: Pacific Seafood

Sustainability and Quality are their trademarks.

Fishing is one of the most difficult job on earth.  It is also the least appreciated.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I did for love.

As I get older, and I engage in writing down my memories, I'm cognizant of the fact that we never know when our last letter will be written, our last thoughts documented.

What choices did I have in front of me, and was aware I had the choices?

I married a couple of years out of college. It was love at first sight, and for me, the things and people I gave up in that decision were not clear until decades later. I wanted to be married, spend all my time with a man I met and couldn't live without.  I had no idea what I was giving up.

 We marry because we fall in love. What happens next takes a life of its own.

Now, forty-five years later, I can count all the times I came in front of a path that was not easy to discern, never black and white,  good or bad.

I gave up my Italian roots and became absorbed in becoming a good American wife, even cooking American meals.  I had no idea that I would see my father only once before he died, that I lost all contacts with my cousins, aunts and uncles, even my two  brothers, after my mother died, and land and holdings in Italy disappeared and were liquidated without my knowledge.

Had I wished to return, even to visit, would have been difficult. My husband and I spent years getting an education, then paying off student loans, purchasing a house, sending our children to school. Our vacations were camping trips, simple two-three days close enough, and inexpensive enough to be affordable.

When we retired and we visited Italy, I could barely recognize any thing or anybody I knew. I had changed; they had changed.  We were all strangers now, with little in common.

We think we know what we are doing.
Life is way too complex to predict.
We take big leaps of faith every day, with many decisions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What are you worth?

To recreate/reconstruct this scene, one can easily add up the number of pieces, the age, the pattern, the quality of each element, and with just a few click of the calculator one can add up the total worth of this table scape. (Provided these items can still be purchased!)

But what about your life?
What about the life of any person?
How do you calculate its worth?

Actors and performers demand more money based on what their agents/representatives are able to negotiate for them. If they are well known, they can demand more money. The more talented, more wanted, more popular, these too will more money.

It turns out that you, yourself, have to calculate that worth at any particular time in your life and then figure out how to convince others that the amount is accurate. As a young college graduate going out for your first interview, you were just happy to get that first job, probably at any amount someone was willing to pay you. Later, if you found out that someone in the same job, hired at the same time was offered more than you were for the same skills and background and responsibilities, how would you handle that?

What if your boss told you that the other person needed the money more than you did?

What if your boss told you that you were lucky to have the job in the first place, and the reasons he gave you were reasons that had nothing to do with the job you were doing, or the qualities and qualifications you had.

That's what happened to me. Two of us, from the same graduating class, got teaching jobs in the same school. After I found out that he was being paid more than me and I confronted our boss about it, the answer was: Well, he's a man; and a man has more responsibilities than a woman.

If you don't know anyone who lost a job, got paid less, or was not promoted because of being a woman, or a minority, or not pretty enough, or thin enough, or pregnant-yes, I lost a job because I was pregnant and that condition was not acceptable for teachers in that state, at that time-how do you reconcile this fact with your sense of fairness and justice?

Ask yourself, have I ever been discriminated against?
If yes, how did you feel?
What did you do?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm glad it worked out!

I'm sure you all recognize this scene.
The view is from my family room, over the garden powdered with a rare dusting of snow on this day, over Garrison Lake, over the dunes and the Pacific roiling in the background.

Yes, you think, Rosaria starts her conversations by referring to this view, from her cottage in the Northwest.And if I were to orate my story today, it would be full of connections to this place. We are, after all, part of our environment. We live and breathe and eat the foods that grow here.

My daughter notices when I use the phrase,  "I'm glad it worked out!"
She says I use that phrase to signify that regardless of the cost, the effort, the time involved in any action, I want to emphasize my humble efforts in making something happen.

I remember the horns of this dilemma from what my mother used to say:

"If you boast, if you say you planned it that way, you will incur the envy of people and evil spirits. Boasting brought down important people, people with more talent, more grace, more connections than you will ever have."

For all we do, all we acquire, all the connections we have with the modern world, we are who we are, a collection of stories passed down and absorbed in our DNA, even though it has been shaken up and re-positioned for a new environment.

So much that is us, is not of our doing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Life's joys,

Here we are at a free concert, enjoying the sunshine and the company of fellow citizens at a small town festival.  (These events occur all the time, you just have to find them, keep the date on the calendar, and manage to attend.)

We sat here and had lunch, fish and chips and slaw prepared by a local establishment, and could have remained here all afternoon, a good three hours of free entertainment, both on stage and off stage.

From the touristy crowd I learned about the latest fashions and hair do's.
From the advertisements, I learned about local businesses I didn't know about.
From the musicians, I learned how joyful it is to perform for a receptive audience of retirees, all looking for some free entertainment, all appreciative.

Mid-way through the concert, we got up and deposited appreciative contributions in the thank-you jar on stage.

My daughter and her husband are musicians, traveling to different venues and entertaining various audiences, just as these musicians are doing in this setting.  I know these folks do what they do for the joy and pleasure they derive from this activity. But, they do have to live and meet expenses, such as meals, gas, overnight stay.  Whatever they receive in these jars might be all they have to continue doing what they are doing.

So, enjoy the freebies wherever you go. But, don't forget to be generous to those folks who provide you joy and pleasure. Buy the CD  from these musicians, and be generous at the thank-you-jar.

Imagine if Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys were never appreciated, never encouraged to stay focused on their passion

Friday, April 6, 2012

The many stages of retirement.

I've been retired for almost ten years. The time has practically flown by. Our lives have changed dramatically. I learned that I had no idea about retirement. Today, I'm sharing what I learned in the years I've been retired.

First stage is feverish anticipation. It starts a few years before you quit work. You begin to identify the symptoms of restlessness, wishing, day-dreaming, sometimes for years before you are quite ready to take the jump, talking and ruminating, and planning, and occupying your leisure hours with factoring how and when and where you can retire.

Our main concern was money; how to save enough; how to budget with what we had; how to have a lifestyle that would be pleasant and doable within our budget.  We had just built a new house, and had not planned on selling and relocating.  But, when we crunched the numbers, staying in place would cost us so much more and we could not retire early as we ended up doing. We began to see how our lives would be like if we moved somewhere else. So, we began to research.

Second stage feels panicky, unreal. Yesterday you were working. Today, you are on the phone making sure everything you put in place is working fine. You will spend hours on the phone or by email double-checking that your bills, your mail, your doctors, your insurances, your investments are all accounted for. Then, even if you try to relax, you can't. You feel as though you committed a crime-of-sorts. You should't be home playing hooky from work. You feel useless, purposeless, empty.This stage can last a couple of months or more.

Third stage is a feeling that everyday is a holiday, everyday should be spent just the way you want to spend it. You begin to feel that your vacation time should actually be a vacation. You should be shopping, visiting, traveling.  You'll spend way more than you had anticipated in traveling, visiting your children, seeing the world. This stage may last as long as your money is there to finance it.

Fourth Stage is a come-down to reality.  You begin to be serious about connecting with the community, using your time in important activities.  Hubby and I began to volunteer and join different groups. Some things were easy, such as coaching, or running the local food pantry. Some, a bit more complicated, like running for school board, or teaching at the local college.  We still travel, but not with the same frequency. We keep active by participating and taking classes, entertaining friends and family. We live as though this is what we will be doing the rest of our lives here. 

Fifth Stage. This is anticipatory. You don't know how and when your health will deteriorate and you will need more care than you can get where you are. This may happen suddenly or slowly.  We talk about, and take small steps to put things in place, both financially, and with our life-style. We have talked about wills, legacy, end of life directives. Most importantly, we have arranged our lives so we can age in place comfortably.  As we  remodeled our house, we kept in mind how the changes might fit our future needs. We can shower in a wheelchair, for instance.  As we anticipate purchasing a  new car we will track down one where we don't have to bend down or climb up to sit in. It needs to fit us in this new stage.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Under severe weather warnings

We are used to severe weather here. Every winter, trees topple, electricity goes out, rivers engorge, the ocean breaches the dunes and spills into the lake that separates my residence from the sandy shores.  There are days when white-caps surge like monsters in mythical stories.

These last few weeks, Lake Garrison has risen to precipitous heights, burying my vegetable garden under a thick layer of soot and reeds and occasional fish carcasses. The Elk, the Sixes, Hubbard Creek, and Floras Creek have swollen and erased boundaries, people have had to evacuate taking what they could with them.

We anticipate this kind of weather for a few more weeks.

Schools and businesses have had to close, roads too dangerous, and electricity out in many places: buildings couldn't be warmed; computers couldn't run.
Highway 101 south of Port Orford suffered a major landslide last week; all traffic to and from Port Orford to Gold Beach is down to one lane and forty five minutes delay. Since this is our ONLY highway, commerce, labor and recreation are all affected.

Supplies and deliveries have to be rerouted, adding extra costs of time and energy.

A few years ago similar storms caused damage to the roof of Pacific High School, destroyed an entire wing, and gave students two extra weeks of forced vacation right after Christmas. Since the roads were inaccessible, nobody left town, and most people volunteered to clear debris at the school.

Moose and elk and deer roam about in strange new places,displaced by rising waters.

I took a short walk to the end of the driveway to pick up the paper yesterday. The paper had not been delivered yet, and I was miffed. When I returned inside, I noticed how soaked my socks were.
I have new respect for anyone who works on roads,  transports goods, braves the severe weather.
Those services are most appreciated right now.