Monday, June 25, 2012

Renovations to grow in place.

Just last week, men and machines were roaming the front and back yard. In a couple of weeks, fences were mended, grass and bushes cut down, boxes built and filled with new soil and compost, gravel compacted, cement poured and formed, beds cleared and bushes removed,  and now new pots grace the front door and the stream appears to move gently away from the house,
I can follow the stream from under the front door foot- bridge to the driveway, to the street side of the front yard. 

Some things were incorporated to be easily accessible should the need occur for us to be in a wheelchair:

1. The new concrete pad allows us to park, and wheel right into the house with no problems.
2. At one end of that front dry pond, (in the second picture), I can now step easily into the area and turn on the water faucet, or do some cultivating.
3. We opened up a side area so we have a T-a way to back out from the garage easily.
4. We removed trees and stumps to give us more light,  better security, and more ease in parking.
5. The front yard will include benches and arbors, so we can entertain seamlessly from front to back to the lake.

The project is half/way done, but progress is being made.
Our weather is cooperating.
Our machines are all repaired and working well.

I'm just hoping that new arbors, benches and pots will sit across the front door before my relatives begin arriving in July, and that new gravel will be poured and compacted from the cement pad all the way to the street and to the lake. Right now, we're all parking here and there and walking gingerly through the back door to reach our house.

Lighting and irrigation are all in place. Everything else should come together soon.

The good news is what has been accomplished so far is most pleasing!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Dream Act and other promises to keep.

Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon. (Warning: this post is of a political nature.)

I get a chance to ask Mr.Wyden questions every year, face to face, when he spends an hour or so at our Town Hall. You have the same opportunities with your statesmen when they return home and visit local municipalities, present you with their accomplishments and goals, and then take questions from the audience.

What does an audience ask? It depends on the local needs, actually.
If Mr. Wyden dropped in this month at the coast, anywhere, he'd get an earful on the dredging issue. Here at our local ports, sand accumulates around the mouths of rivers and bays, keeping boats from leaving the port and go fishing.

Without dredging, clearing the sand bars, there is no fishing.

Dredging is expensive and is provided by specialized crews, mostly run by the Army Corps of Engineers. The work is necessary for the livelihood of the fishing and recreational industry around rivers, bays and ports.

Without dredging, everything comes to a standstill.

I might ask Mr. Wyden how he will vote on the Dream Act as well. You see, I too was an immigrant, and I remember full well the difficulties I encountered, difficulties that most people would rather not think about. Most people like me, might just forget to speak up, afraid to make a fuss, afraid that someone might make things more difficult for them or their families.

Most people, though,  think both of these issues do not affect them.


Regarding dredging:
1. Fish will cost you more than ever because local fishing industries will shut down.
2. If you own a boat forget about using it anywhere except your pool.
3. Vacationing on a beautiful bay might change to vacationing on a mosquito infected pond.
4. Goods from and to the Pacific Rim countries will have to arrive by plane.
5. All cities and towns on water will become ghost towns.

Regarding immigration reform:
1. Agricultural work will not get done in time, or as cheaply as it is done today.
2. Wine, produce and meat will be prohibitively expensive.
3. Restaurants and fast food places will have to charge more, because they have to pay more for their employees. Minimum wages do not apply right now to many seasonal industries.
4. Construction industry will come to a standstill.
5. Nannies and housekeepers will be hard to find.

We might all have to rethink what America will be like, if all immigrants disappeared, (including our relatives, best friends, our neighbors, etc...) if only the people who could afford visiting us would be found at our shores, would be setting up businesses here and exploiting our natives, would be shipping profits to their banks in most instances rather than investing in the community.

Ugh, come to think of it, this is already happening....
What about you? What issues would you bring up with your statesmen?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What kills us.

(in the photo: I'm eating steamed mussels at Redfish Restaurant in Port Orford. Hubby took this picture, sitting across me.)

You add up the hours and sigh. So much of our energy goes into thinking about food, exploring food, selecting food, preparing, eating, cleaning up. In one day, the activity of eating could take up half of our waking hours.

My mother's routine of getting the main meal on the table was to get up at seven, get us to school with a slice of bread and jam, a glass of milk, make the beds and clean the house, then walk across town to the meat market, the vegetable stands, the bakery. Along the way she caught up with friends and relatives. With her shopping bag full, she walked back home, slipped out of her heels and prepared the main meal of the day.  Housewives spent many hours in food preparation.

When we returned home to eat the main meal around noon or so, the pasta would be ready to go into the boiling water, the vegetables had been prepared, the meat was grilled or stewed.  Dad too had returned from his work, and after washing up, he'd take his seat at the head of the table and poured wine for himself and Mother, and added a dash to our water glasses. School work was discussed first, then other affairs.

My routine and my husband's, during our working years was nothing like this. I woke the children; they fixed themselves cereal, grabbed snacks, and all of us dashed out of the house way before seven. We all returned after six; the children had after school events and child care providers, hubby and I worked way past our eight hours shift.  Back in the fold, sharing a quick meal together, we all returned to homework or housekeeping chores that couldn't wait another day. Bill paying, laundry, vacuuming. Most of the time, we all collapsed in front of a television set to watch the news or a favorite program.

No wonder we relied on drive ins, pick-ups, take-outs, frozen meals, fast food meals, eat in your car meals.Who had the time to sit down, with a glass of wine, across the table with someone? 

We have arrived to a time in our society's evolution when what kill us is our modern way of eating.
We eat poorly.
In a hurry.
Under stress.

Eating has become a leisure activity, to be done only if time is available. No time during our working days. Better get work done while we can; while the Stock Exchange is ticking; while deadlines loom.

And so,  after horrendous commutes, we pick up Kentucky Fried Chicken's big bucket meal. Tonight, plenty of food. And no one has to clean up.
Tonight, we might be able to sit with little Abby and read her that favorite book of hers. Tonight, we might watch Jeopardy together.

Too bad we can't skip eating completely. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There is no hurry in Curry!

This is only the second week of the landscape project, but it feels as though months have passed already. Fortunately for both Hubby and me, we are not new at remodeling/construction projects. We have had plenty of experiences, and can't recall anything in the past that was completed ahead of schedule or under cost.  With the removal of the old septic tank, tasks have had to be postponed and reassigned. With the break-down of machines, delays and extra costs have popped up.

With all the noise and pollution, Newkie the cat huddles by Hubby's desk, right above his computer, a place she had never ventured to before these events, and stays there, alert, as tractor scrapes the driveway or moves rocks and dirt. She  wants to go out of her usual window which happens to face the entire mess. She has tried the back door, but runs into the house as soon as work starts about 8:30 each morning.

 There is a saying in these parts: "There is no hurry in Curry."

Curry County, with few inhabitants, mostly part-timers, and even fewer providers of basic services, seems to be an odd place for people who are used to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York. It's difficult to get anything done in the time frame most of us anticipate.

Most service people have  the habit of not showing up, not calling, or showing up without calling. We chose well-established contractors. We researched and visited their previous projects in and out of the county, and spoke with clients.  We consulted ahead of time, agreed on a design, on a price, and signed on the dotted line. We know these people well, and we trust them.

Only the weather and breakdowns will inevitably  throw  monkey ranches on the project.

We have two projects going on: The upgrading of the front garden/driveway, and the upgrading of the garden by the lake. By now, I anticipated my vegetables boxes to be in place by the lake behind a deer fence. But the fence posts needed replacing, and when the neighbor saw the work in progress, he informed us that our fence line was incorrect, and proceeded to show the recorded survey of the land. So, the entire side fence needs re-positioning-might as well settle this now and not let this fester any longer-and we can't do that until the lake recedes a yard or two. Now, without a fence one cannot grow anything.

So, everything by the lake has been postponed.

The front garden/driveway is proceeding according to plan, mostly.

Did I mention that the tractor broke, and was fixed, and then broke again, and again?
Did I mention that there are no places nearby to fix these machines, and our contractor/operator spent days working on these repairs?

Hubby reminds me that everyone used to repair their own machines on the farm back in the days when he was a child in Montana. All machines. They built their own whenever necessary. His grandfather strung electric lines, and built  pumps and irrigation channels  to bring electricity and water to his farmhouse.

We have lost these skills now-a-days. Our machines, big or small end up in dumps, or in China, where they are re-purposed.

I'm reminded daily that these views and walks on the beaches are to be enjoyed while the body still moves and the senses are still acute.

Perhaps the saying, there is no hurry in Curry, means  " slow down, enjoy what you have, while you have it, and don't be in a hurry to get to the next stage".

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We've become people who need people.

Men, women, machines, tools, supplies, gadgets, specialized tasks, and lots of coordination, and logistics. Usually this type of work is done in stages, lasting a couple of seasons, or years. We chose to have everything done at once.

First day of work.

Here, you see four different crews: tractor work, edging/laying out concrete pads work, clearing old vegetation work, and lighting and irrigation work.  A dozen people  at various stages, delivery,  leveling, spacing,  digging and adjusting to get the right slope identified and prepared before the concrete men can be called to pour out the concrete, and a crew on the outskirt doing the clean-up and prepping work for different areas.

Most of this work was done in the rain.

Notice the lighting and irrigation tubing before it is buried under the concrete or stones. I took these pictures to have an understanding of the layout should I need to call a repairman in the future. Even the special soil that will form the various beds has been delivered and put together according to specifications.

The weather has not cooperated too well. We are still waiting for a dry spell to complete the tasks.
On top of everything, machines broke halting many steps, and an old septic tank was discovered in the region where the concrete pad was scheduled to go.

So, stop everything,  remove above tank, fill the hole, re-level the pad!

The good news? Everyone is working at peak performance!
Now, if only the weather would cooperate.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The pre- season.


Still raining in the Northwest fifty percent of the time. Yet, we can't wait for sun anymore. We venture  outdoors with few layers, walking the beaches, digging and weeding in the garden, removing debris, cleaning gutters. We get soaked and muddied too often, grumbling that the sun is not keeping its appointment. Nobody seems to keep an appointment in this weather.

Roads have to be repaired before the crowds arrive. Flaggers and workmen slow down our routines of getting to town, stopping at the pharmacy, checking the newly opened farmers' markets with berries and lavender. Cherries appear from the interior lands, and asparagus, and plenty of arugula and kale. By now, in California, they are eating tomatoes, I whisper to no-one in particular. By now, my peas should have germinated!

This is our pre-season, pre- tourist, pre-family reunion, pre-celebration season. We are still paring down the accumulations of winter, clearing piles of papers and clothes, burning bonfires of dead wood, branches. We reset our gravel on the packed dirt, pull vines of invasive ivy and blackberry, and wonder how we can stand or move our arms after just an hour. Our aching bodies are tired quickly.

June will continually disappoint; yet, we hope and plan as though the few days of sunshine are harbingers of many more. Graduation parties will be rained out; weddings will be washed out, and even on dry days, the temperatures will still be cold for many seeds to germinate on their own; too wet for most feet to trample on the ground.

June is bread dough on the counter. It needs warmth, and time to get to the right size for baking as we watch and anticipate and salivate.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Growing into grumpy old men, and women.

We all watched movies about old people, how they lost their balance, their sense of taste, their hearing, their ability to control their lives.  We absorbed these observations and generalized about our own demise at that old age.
We were not going to drop off the tree of life if we could help it!
We exercised. We took hormone replacements. We read books and prepared ourselves to fight and win the battle.

I grew up/older watching The Golden Girls. I saw a bit of myself in each character, and came to believe that except for divorce, or widowhood, our lives could still be quite exciting.  Each character had specific needs that irritated the others. But, they all shared a beautiful home by pooling resources, and were very accommodating. Some, like the mother, was too manipulative. All in all, the women were radiant and healthy and sexually active for their age, I thought.

Now, I see that old age hits us in different ways. Some of us continue to be vibrant and radiant way into our eighties and nineties. Some of my best friends, in their eighties, can out-walk me, out-shop me, out volunteer me, out hobby me, and seem to be tireless in all the things they do.

Some, in their sixties, are confined to power chairs, weekly visits to clinics and therapists, keep few people in their circles and find no joy in their lives.

Doctors who treat us are beginning to prescribe more life changes instead of pills. More and more they ask about our daily routines, the amount and quality of different foods we eat. Our cardiologist talked about small plates as a way to curb our appetite! The fact that he took time to ask and comment and joke about our habits was a good sign that he wants us to succeed in having a good life without resorting to outside sources.

Perhaps we need more television shows and movies about real old people; about life style improvements; about maintaining relationships and hopeful futures. Perhaps we ought to consider all aspects of life at this stage.

Baby boomers have begun to retire in droves. The audience is there and  advertisers have already  latched on and are selling us cars that assist us in parking, in backing up, in remaining alert.  Perhaps we could see products and services that help us maintain and even improve our present abilities, our flexibility, strength,  vigor and joy of life.

After all, who wants to live with grumpy old men or women?