Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our fantasy lives.

(picture from a landscaping blog  I no longer remember. If you recognize it, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

We live our days on two tracks, the work and clean track, and the dream and wish track. It's not as though they are opposite. They are intertwined, and the amount of focus we are consciously aware of in any one field depends on the moment.

I do most of my wishing and dreaming when I'm gardening or when I'm doing routine tasks, such as driving, cleaning house, doing laundry. In the garden, for instance,  I may start with weeding a small area and then, needing another tool, I stand up and go fetch that tool. Before I get there, something catches my eye, and I'm off to something else entirely. I'm still gardening, but I'm blending in with the entire universe as well.

The effect of this meandering on my soul is most salutary. All the bending, the pulling, the carrying and positioning, the raking, the digging, the pruning, the harvesting, all succeed in numbing my thoughts, stilling my fears, positioning me in the place and the moment of the task, body and soul.

And yet, I travel millions of miles with each little twitch. Every time I use the hoe I see my father bent over this implement for hours, tending the vineyard. Every time I gather fruit and vegetable Mother is right beside me, reminding me of something or other. Wait another day for this one is still a bit small. Take these in and make a big tart, the way we used to make it when Grandma visited. You are lucky with a big refrigerator and lots of freezing space, you could bake a few extras and taste these delights in the middle of winter.

As I work, I take great delight in how something is bending,  blooming, fighting to remain in its position. When I realize how tired I've become, I stop reluctantly.

We worry about children not staying on task. We demand their attention for hours and hours, and put all our emphasis on routine tasks, rather than creative pursuits. We test them on specific items, as though life is a big recipe we must memorize, rather than a big labyrinth to discover.

I wonder if we allow them enough time to meander and imagine, mix and match tasks, reminisce, create scenes and dialogue about their wishes, their fears, their consternation.

We must rethink the benefits of staying on task. Perhaps the explosion of ADD (attention deficit disorder) among our population is nature's way to correct all that tasking we have been submitted to.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The resilience gene.

You just can't kill grass!

Whatever happens, however you experience life, your instincts to remain alive, to fight for your life, to keep on trying no matter the odds, just as wild grass  keeps growing on sand, you find ways to grow and survive.

Resilience may be in our DNA, in our genes. How else can we explain so many survival stories?
Despite war, famine, pestilence, natural disasters, throughout our evolution, people have managed to multiply and occupy the entire planet.

As we migrated to territories that should have killed us, we managed to find ways to fight heat, cold, frigid temperatures, even lack of oxygen. The more challenges we faced, the more creative we became.

Our biggest heroes overcame great odds. kept fighting and remained focused on their goals. Their stories are passed down and acknowledged.

Perhaps, if and when we have no more challenges, our resilience gene will disappear.

The way our tails did.
How do we make our children safe and resilient at the same time?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The plans of a retiree.

(past winter-water submerged garden)
When you retire, your calendar changes.
You no longer have five days on, two off.
Your calendar is now filled with frequent doctor'a visits, dates when your social security check is deposited, and the chores associated with your present weather patterns. 

Last winter, this garden plot was was under water for months. Hence the many activities that followed in the spring, when everything was dug up, removed, cut and disposed of, to make room for planter boxes that are elevated and moved to higher ground. Our calendar from that point on indicated these phenomena and how everything else in our lives had to subjugate to that!

What was divided between work and fun, now is divided between fun and dread.

Yes, five days, or five weeks of fun, against a month in crutches, a week on cereal and water before you have enough money to go to the grocery store to pick up coffee and milk again; the dread of something braking in your body; something else in your house that needs fixing. 
(We lived in Southern Calif. most of our adult lives. Now, we realize that maintaining a house is quite different when the weather is so harsh!)

I hear the price of meat will skyrocket because of the drought in the Midwest. The price of fish is already up because there are dead zones that are now off limits to fishing. And, in a situation like our port, too small to get automatic dredging to maintain the dwindling fishing industry, we are looking at many folks losing their livelihood, in a town where there are few jobs already.

Those folks who travel and talk about the next journey between journeys are rare birds.

Most retirees I know journey to the next town, to stock up on essentials. Their long-distance travels are necessary evils, like visits to hospitals, specialists.

We usually take a trip down to California during our wet winter or spring. We manage to get ourselves organized enough to close our home, and travel down to visit our son and family for a week or so. We count that week as our yearly vacation; and if everything works out, they can come up and visit us in the summer when our weather is better than their weather.

Long term planning?
To continue using our limbs and all our organs.
To continue to enjoy eating the things we love before something interferes with our digestion.
To keep our vision and our acuity so we can continue to drive and get ourselves around.

And, to see the world......

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Where are they now?

Trees reincarnate as trellis, furniture, fuel. Friends reincarnate too as they move from visiting next door, to sending a Christmas letter now and then, or picking up and making that occasional phone call. We are in the age of Facebook Friends.

Yes, after a decade of retirement I encounter people on Facebook I lost contact with.
We are never going to pick up right where we left off; but, we are keeping up with each other's lives enough now, through Facebook. It's not like a daily chat, more like postcards from the old countries, where all the details are there, but the context has to be explained.

When I emigrated to America, decades ago, the chance of people to reunite were slim, or non-existent. Now, with a small click of the finger on Facebook, you can find such folks on Facebook. And with translations available so readily, we can read just about any thought expressed anywhere in the world!

We are reaching out; we are sharing. Will we grow more understanding and kind toward each other?
Or, do we need to meet and see each other's eyes to read intentions?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Disney knew something we forgot.

In this hamlet, just as in Disney's movies, when Snow White fed birds on her shoulders, received all kinds of animals in her garden, 
people feed wild animals.
Raccoon, squirrels, birds, deer.
A deer or raccoon may show up at our doorsteps any time of the day.
When I call my cat in for the night, other animals might respond and follow me in.

Here, two visiting partridges looking for fresh food
on a new concrete pad.

I bet Newkie will share her breakfast with them.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A face lift for an old landscape.

This is what you see as you drive into my driveway. The chair tells you to stop and park at this point, as the driveway goes down to the lake past this juncture. The terrain is crushed stone, pounded down to feel smooth and even to the walker. The trees in the background are all growing down by the lake.

From the street, you can see arbors, chairs, stone benches and flowered pots.

You are invited to stop here and chat before you approach the entrance. All plantings are deer-proof and mostly native to this area. In a few months the arbors will have vines growing above, with profuse flowers blooming from late summers to late fall.

Across the arbors, the house entrance sits at the end of a suspended bridge crossing a dry creek. The pots' colors are blue, sienna red, grey. The gravel is sand/grey; the stones are grey/slate. The star magnolia in the dry creek will bloom from December to February. The Camellia, from October to December.

 The dry creek is made up of sand, rocks, and gravel. Plants and bushes and ferns appear here and there.
Outside the front door, on the far side of the picture, the dry creek under this footbridge spills out on the concrete and meets the arbors at the opposite end.

And finally, a place to turn the car around once out of the garage, or off the concrete pad!

Now, we are going to walk down to the lake, past the boat house, and into the deer-proof enclosure to visit my vegetable/fruit garden.

These rusty chairs will greet you at the entrance. They are supporting  small grape vines too small to stand on their own at this time. The posts are set for a future grape arbor right here.

In this enclosed area I grow my vegetables in raised boxes. I can stand up and putter around with ease. In this box, my salad greens are ready to be thinned. Arugula, fennel, basil, parsley and sage grow among the various musculus mixes. I can decide to harvest just bibb lettuce for a special recipe, or escarole to use in a pasta dish.

Having a variety of greens makes it easy to plan meals.

Notice the bird netting, suspended by a metal pole, to keep birds and other critters out. The boxes will be equipped with drip irrigation on timers. Even if I ended up in a wheelchair, I could still manage to grow my own veggies here.

I have ten boxes, each with different variations. I'm even attempting to grow corn here; though, I don't think I've ever seen corn growing around these parts. This area faces south, and it is protected from the prevailing north winds that blow in summer. I might get lucky!

We spend mornings down here, watering, weeding, planting.
With coffee at hand, we forget the world here,  listening to the ocean, picking berries, weeding roses.

We were meant to be in gardens.

Note: design and construction done by By-the-sea Gardens, in Bandon, and by Mike Hewitt Construction and Excavation in Port Orford. Our thanks to these fine professional for a job well done.

Friday, August 3, 2012


(Hubby, Jasmine, our granddaughter,  and me, February 2011, in LA.)

There were times, not too long ago, when we could drive to a museum across town; stop for lunch downtown; drive to another attraction; and get ourselves to the beach before rush hour traffic to enjoy the sunset on the Pacific.  We could get a good six hours or so of activity and another two-three hours of driving time in a single day.

Not now!

A year later, just a small cross-town jaunt to get groceries or plants will wear us out. We make appointments with our doctors for late in the morning, or for early afternoon, for instance. We give ourselves plenty of time to get up and get ready before hitting the road, and  make sure to carry snacks should we be stuck on the road for any reason.

We always stop for a meal when we are out of town. A meal out is our reward for the trial and tribulations of getting in and out of a doctor's office.  Just this week, because I had an eye exam, and a long wait in a busy waiting room where the receptionist had misplaced my appointment, though I showed her the appointment card, and was making a big fuss about how I should have called them the day before to confirm, when I never had to do that with any other doctor, I declared myself stressed and hungry just a couple of hours after our lunch meal.

Hubby understood! He tried to stir me to a healthy snack we always carry. NO! I wanted a burger and fries and a milkshake!

We do get rattled about little and big things that are just erroneous, or at people who make mistakes and do not take responsibility for such. When processes are messed up, we become cranky and vociferous. Yes, we get tired; and we lose any patience we might have stored ahead of this event.

Now, navigating in a new town adds its own brand of crankiness, I might add.

At the end of the day, that stress causes us to collapse before our bedtime.

Yes. Cranky and Tired are our new status.

We can't even imagine how we could get up at five, drive an hour in heavy traffic, work for eight-ten hours, more traffic, stop for supplies or food, and be home in time to check children' s homework or    supervise an activity such as soccer practice, and retire with a book after ten.