Thursday, March 29, 2012

The plan: create a Mediterranean courtyard.

These are three views of the space I plan to renovate/recreate. The first picture is from the parking area, some fifty feet or so from the garage. The second is from the front of the entrance, a footbridge taking you into the house. And the third, is the view of the house from the street.

The goal is to "enclose" the parking area with arbors,  and turn this area into outdoor living room, with benches and tables and cobbled/tiled/concrete slabs/river rocks driveway and turnabouts. The area would be connected to the back of the house, fourth picture, where the lake and the docks are,  and all these parts will work together seamlessly.

Besides getting a courtyard that is integrated with the house and the backyards/lake, I wanted to continue gardening in place. So, I needed ways to get around if I ended up in a wheelchair.

In my old life, I would have had this thought and filed it away in some notebook.
In my new life, I set a budget, and called a professional landscape contractor to have a look, design and install all these elements in an integrated approach.

In my old life, Hubby would attempt the work, get injured or exhausted, and then scrap the entire project.
In my new life, my husband will become the general contractor, take bids for different parts of the job, and work with the designer in finalizing the plan and coordinating the work.

I know, this is extravagant!
I could spend my money in so many other ways!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grape Leaves.

It started with one bare-root stick, a special hybrid grape that promised to do well in this cool,wet climate. It survived. The next season, I bought another. This summer, I will have even more. Grapes may not ripen at all. But the leaves will grow big and sassy in their sheltered spot.

I've been dreaming of this for a while, longer even than a rose garden.
How stubborn we are!

I'm recreating my childhood experiences back in my Italian hometown. Grapes, olives, figs and pomegranate played a big part in our vineyards  Oh, I should be contented with blueberry,  marionberry, cranberry.  Instead, I'm thrilled with all the artichoke plants that grow from the mother root and in a few weeks, I will use the tiny fruit in my spring risotto.

The irony? I didn't like grapes and figs and artichokes when I was young.

Now, I'm imagining an enormous grape arbor, shading tables and chairs for dozens of guests.
A free-standing pizza oven would magically produce the pizza I've been craving for years in a Mediterranean courtyard. Music and song and merry friends will be transported to another place and another time, days of wine and pizza and song and family, all gathered after the harvest.

To people who declare that we shouldn't mess with native ecology, I say, how else will we know if something can survive?
We are all survivors on this big planet, moving from one place to another, not always willingly, always hopeful that something in the new place will remind us of home. You see, we left home in a hurry, and we couldn't dismantle and take it with us!

To those who say that if you don't like it, go back to where you are from, I say, how far back? How many of us can say our ancestors never moved to someplace new? We are all nomads. We are all homeless.

Deep in the recesses of our soul, we crave to recreate that place we call home. We continue to explore and adapt and learn to do without the very things that have shaped us, and at the same time, we surround ourselves with many things that remind us of our real home.

How about you?
How do you surround yourself with reminders of home?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trapped in our own skins.

Update, Sunday, March 25, 2012.
All is well. All functioning. A bit of flooding on the lakeside garden, the front driveway. No worries, though, our pantry is full, and so is our refrigerator.  If we become trapped, we can survive for days!

This is the easy part to report. The other part, the part about the running in and out of town for this procedure, this  treatment, that overnight sojourn at the hospital hilton, hours in the waiting room, snacking on crackers and cheese, that part is the real trap we have been facing.

We are trapped in our own skins, our own vast highway of sinews, blood chambers, food consumption and elimination. Lots of things can go wrong. And any one thing can send you to the hospital or clinic.

A trip to the drugstore or the pharmacy can become an excursion to hell.
"What is the best over-the-counter medication for...?
The labels are confusing, and the young assistant is way too busy.
We take turns reading, hubby and I.
"No. This says it can cause dizziness and constipation!"
We analyze the alternatives.  What else can go wrong?
"Stop.I need to use the restroom," I say, "Take a number from the pharmacist, and tell her what other meds you take."

When I return, he has bought the store. We came for one item, to relieve one simple problem, and we walk out with a bag full of stuff.

Growing old is not for sissies!
We are exhausted, and the only thing we did was go to the drugstore.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Riding toward happiness.

A bike ride, an empty street, a lovely view ahead. This is what you wanted in life. You are a character in your own own movie and you control every move.

Everything you feel is pregnant with possibilities.
You're strong.
You're successful.
You are loved.
You can do anything you set your mind to do.
All the days ahead, all the paths ahead are your future perfect.

Is this how you feel every day?
Some days?

What happens the rest of the time?

Do you feel you're  in the wrong place, the wrong time?
You are not smart enough, or cool enough to be here?
What if everyone had ridiculed you?
What if  your basic needs were denied?
What if parts of your body, functions of your body were denied appropriate care?

What would you do?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Before there was a garden here,  a forest stretched softly to the sea, unmolested by chain fences, ignorant of wild roses and rambling grasses, posing majestically among mossy groves.
Waves of fresh and salt water formed a lagoon here, a bay there. The local population spent summers on these shores, catching and smoking salmon, bass, clams, collecting mushrooms and nuts, drying kelp and reeds, carving shells and driftwood into usable tools and implements.

In winter they lived inland, up river, on the Elk, the Sixes, Hubbard Creek, Floras Creek, away from storms that would blow their huts away.

Old summer villages, excavated and recorded, have left many traces of the bounty provided by the forest and the sea.We have no pictures of the trees or the life lived here.  The two stumps are young compared to  old growth in the vicinity.

After last night' s windstorms, more trees will be cut down.

Today's inhabitants are full timers. They have laid out strong foundations and stronger roofs.
They are making plans for using ocean waves and wind to generate energy to run their many machines, to warm their homes, to create more tools to colonize these wild lands.

Soon, instead of old growth, we can expect to see condos right by the water, stumps eradicated completely, gardens protected from the wind in man-made green houses.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Day of the Woman.

At the moment, I don't know that my husband knows about this holiday. He's still sleeping, and breakfast, prepared by this woman, is waiting for him on his side table. It's a reminder that breakfast is to be eaten in the morning, as soon as he wakes.

Before a man is even awake, a woman has been at work making his life easier and richer.

Left to his own rhythm, he'd forget to eat until too hungry, too grouchy and too low in blood sugar. This woman makes sure that his diet is optimal, from a balanced breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, to a salad and fish for lunch, nuts for snacks, soup and sandwich for dinner and a dessert of fruit and cheese, preferably eaten before seven, his food intake is carefully selected to his specifications.  Somebody is watching out for him!

If he's left to forage when  his own hunger pangs are felt, he'd rely on some canned meat,  sugary drinks, and any leftover he can find.

He sleeps on soft pillows and strong mattress, both chosen carefully by this woman.
In the closet, his clothes are organized by season and colors. He could take any shirt, any pants he wants. all coordinated and sized to his specifications.  They appear and reappear magically in the same closet, without any fanfare.

Between his bed and his bathroom there are night lights, soft guides, so he can move about in the night without bumping into anything.

Hopefully, his appreciation for all the little and big things in his life influenced directly or indirectly by this woman or any other woman, this appreciation will result in strong opinions about the worth of any human being, the respect for labors and services that we take for granted, the appreciation that everyone of us, man or woman, contributes valuable services to the community.

Without this appreciation, respect, and recognition, women will continue to be taken for granted, their services will be undervalued, their contributions relegated to second class.

I wonder: would we need a day to celebrate,  if there was equality and respect and equality of compensation for the work that women do?

I'm not even talking about the work force!
Opportunities, education, equal pay, and respect: these are  things  every human needs.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cape Signals.

Cape Blanco, Curry County, Oregon, United States, westernmost point on the contiguous United States.
We have arrived in the Far West. From here, we go across the Pacific to Asia.

Our terrain reminded pioneers of Scotland, Ireland. Many people settled here from those green places with hills and heather resembling their fathers' or mothers' homelands.  Fences were built for sheep out of gorse, a spiny bush that provided vegetation and color and a sure way to divide territory. From the sky, in spring and summer, the gorse appears as a blooming orange ribbon circling plots of land.

Now, cattle and sheep share the territory with cranberry bogs in low lands where water pools automatically and temperatures never reach above 70F.

The radio/weather signals on Cape Blanco have tracked hurricane force winds on a regular basis, year in and year out. The light in the lighthouse has been shining continuously for over a hundred years, warning mariners of cliffs and outcrops dotting the coast line.

It's no surprise that we have few days of fog here. Winds keep skies clear and the sun shining regularly.

Cape Blanco

Thursday, March 1, 2012


This is how it is with me:
I start with a feeling I want to write about. Yes, a feeling. This morning, the feeling was "Neglect".
I open the "New Post" link and click on a picture link.
I survey the pictures that come up, looking for just that connection to my initial feeling.
Then, I proceed to write about the concept, the feeling, elucidating around the picture.
Usually, I use my own pictures,easily retrieved, and totally accessible without anybody else's permission.
When I take a picture, I'm actually writing about what I see, storing that picture in my memory cells as though each picture is about a bigger story.
For this one, I noticed how I had abandoned this corner of my garden, all of my gardens, for months and months. I had no time, nor interest in anything else except my pain and grief at that time. I noticed how my self-absorption affected the rest of the world around me.

You know how there are seven deadly sins?  Neglect should be right at the top of the list. Neglect should be the original sin! Every evil deed starts with No Deed at all. A baby that is not loved and cared for, and cherished, that baby is doomed from the start. A teen who is not asked about her day, her activities, her friends, her concerns, will find attention elsewhere. So will a wife, a husband, even a pet.

Especially a pet. If you don't care for your pet, he'll end up being mean and disruptive when you are not around.  

Neglect is a negation of love. It says, I don't care.
Neglect is like rust. It will slowly eat up the core of that being, until nothing is left.

How about You? How is your process for writing your blog?